With the presidential debate including talk once again of women getting equal pay, it seems surreal to me that we are still having this discussion. In the 70’s, when I was a teenager reading books like Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room, I was so inspired and imagined how fast it was all changing and how different my life as a woman was going to be from my mother’s. As I now speed towards 50, it appears we women still have to fight for every opportunity we get, including a sense of self worth.
At the kitchen table as we were initially dreaming up our new film Yogawoman, we decided to include only women - doctors, research scientists, social commentators, yoga teachers and historians. Although this made sense as we were discussing the topic of women reshaping yoga from its ancient construct to suit their modern lives, it never dawned on me quite how radical it would be to see 50 women on the big screen. We are used to seeing women on the big screen, but rarely the entire cast, rarely empowered by their own authentic path and rarely living real lives. So the surprise for me at the first few screenings was seeing our cast from 5 to 95 years old, dealing with the pressures of modern living, busy multi-tasking lives, the complexities of self-image issues, food disorders, mothering and menstrual cycles. Watching Yogawoman I was taken aback by how radical and important it is to watch real women talking about their lives.
Yogawoman is filmed in 9 countries looking at women dealing with depression, pregnancy, menopause, addiction, poverty, parenting and even finding some peace and dignity in dying. The film follows situations like breast cancer survivors who are desperately in need of some tools in which to: regain movement, acceptance of post surgery body image and some precious ‘me’ time to take it all in. Following a yoga program in the juvenile justice system gives the film the ability look into the lives of teenage girls dealing with lives of abuse, addiction, and crime, all while locked behind bars.
The Yogawoman cast comes in all shapes and sizes. With 90% of American women being dissatisfied with their own body image it felt imperative to include a wide range of real women’s bodies in the film. (I find the 90% figure alarming yet can hardly name anyone that fits into the satisfied category.)
How much money, energy, brainpower and mirror time do we waste feeling that we are not good enough? Let’s all do a daily survey on time/energy spent on this topic and add up the minutes over the year. Is that how we want to pass our lives? How can we cultivate lives that move us beyond this construct? How can we cultivate lives that enable us to lead our best lives? As women, we are up against a cascade of options in which miracles and quick fixes are pouring into our lives. It is time to choose long lasting healthy options for ourselves that enable us to be empowered by our own worth in relationships, our own worth at work and our own worth as we vote.
Yogawoman looks into the possibility of women choosing a life for ourselves that enables us to make conscious choices around what we do, what we eat, listen to, purchase and say. The women in the film are not looking for perfect lives, but looking for tools to use in the midst of their daily lives to find some peace, balance and a sense of their own beauty and power. YOGAWOMAN does not provide miracles for happiness rather gives life examples and inspiring stories of how the path of yoga can offer women daily practices that enable us to breathe easy and find contentment with all that we are.
YOGAWOMAN is at Angelika Film Center NYC through Oct. 25 and opens in L.A. at Laemmle Theatres on Oct. 26.