AGNIYOGANA is a meditative inquiry into the lost art of classical Hatha Yoga. Offering an experiential collage of action and stillness, light and darkness, sound and silence, AGNIYOGANA explores the richness of traditional Hatha Yoga teachings.
AGNIYOGANA takes the viewer on a journey through time and space to rediscover the inner dimensions of Hatha Yoga and the true meaning of “yuj,”(yoga).
Our documentary film begins with a visual and aural initiation. The journey inward then explores the key requirements of Hatha Yoga: Firmness of mind; the importance of faith; the necessity of a qualified teacher; skillful moderation; the methods to restrain the senses; and the practice of universal equanimity.
Throughout the film we examine the microcosm of the internal self in relation to the macrocosm of the elements, seasons, time of day, and other external forces of nature. The narrative is woven together through commentary, wisdom, and insight from those who continue to uphold and live by the ancient ways of yoga. Throughout, AGNIYOGANA offers rarely seen glimpses of traditional Hatha Yoga practices as expressed by modern day yogins.
AGNIYOGANA is a meditation.
AGNIYOGANA, the film’s title, refers to the yoking of one’s own inner fire. This inner fire is what transmutes and transforms every living being so they may become more fully awake, vibrant, and alive.
The commentary on the Vedas known as the Satapatha Brahmana states: Then…when about to speak the morning prayer, he yokes the fire altar…and when yoked, he obtains all wishes.” (9:4:4:1). So how does one yoke the fire to obtain our wishes for ourselves and humanity? This question is the basis for my lifelong inquiry into Hatha Yoga.
As I studied the classical texts and systems of Hatha Yoga, and travelled the globe meeting those who were adept in the traditional forms, I saw the great potential of a film that illuminated the holistic practices of Hatha Yoga through the words and experience of authentic practitioners.
We needed to go back to the roots. To reveal these traditional practices to others so they may be remembered and once again shared with a world in need. To light the fire of inquiry in the next generation of spiritual aspirants.
The tagline of AGNIYOGANA, “Lower the Head and Invoke the Fire,” is an invitation to bow to the fire within each of us.
Emma Balnaves, April 2019
Sundernath (Shandor Remete)
Lineage: Nath Sampradaya
Filmed on Location: Hendon Studios, South Australia
Sundernath (Shandor Remete) was fortunate to be born into a household at the southern eastern tip of the great Hungarian plain where the art of yoga was a daily presence. From this seed his destiny on the path of yoga unfolded. He is an initiate of the Kanpatha Hatha Yogins of Nepal, descendants of Sri Gorakhnath and his Guru Sri Matsyendranath. These great Yogins, were the forefathers of Shadanga (six-limbed) Yoga, the heart of which is Hatha Yoga – the science bestowed on humanity by Adinatha (the Lord Shiva).
Dr. Manmath Gharote
Lineage: Hatha Yoga
Origin: Lonavla, India
Filmed on Location: Lonavla Institute, Lonavla India
Dr. Manmath Gharote is the Director of The Lonavla Yoga Institute in India. He was born and brought up in the Kaivalyadhama in an atmosphere and conditions devoted to yoga and was inspired to specialize in yoga through his tremendous respect for Swami Kuvalayanandaji. He is fully devoted to the field of yoga and committed to fulfill the mission of The Lonavla Yoga Institute, continuing to further the task which was left as a legacy to him by his beloved father Dr. M. L. Gharote.
Lineage: Nath Sampradaya Vamsa
Origin: Jumla, West Nepal
Filmed on Location: Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu Nepal
Yogi Narinath is a yogi and hermit from the Nath tradition of Gorakhnath. He was the caretaker of the famed Gorakhnath shrine in the heart of Nepal at the ancient mirgasthali (deer park) and now the retired mahant of the Goraknath Temple.
Lineage: Nath Sampradaya
Origin: Gulmi, Nepal
Filmed on Location: Gorakhnath Temple, Mrigasthali, Kathmandu, Nepal
Yogi Shirshnath is a yogi of the Nath sect and he is serving as the Mahanta of Gorakhnath Temple, Mrigasthali. Located near the famous temple Pashupatinath.
Dr. Govinda Tandon
Title: Former Member Secretary of Pashupati Area Development Trust
Origin: Nepal, Kathmandu
Filmed on Location: Pashupatinath Area, Kathmandu, Nepal
Dr. Govinda Tandon is a leading scholar of Nepali history, Culture and Archaeology. He has spent eleven years as the Treasurer and Member-Secretary of Pashupati Area Development Trust, a holy site of the Hindus worldwide. Also a well-known figure of Dharma and spirituality in Nepal, he has published various books in Nepali and English, including recently Thoughts for Superb Living (2016) and Masterly Living (2017). He is the founder and Chairman of Thoughts For Superb Living (The Real Life Making Movement) and Chief Patron of Manav Seva Ashram.
Dordzin Dondrup Palden Rinpoche
Lineage: Drikung Kagyu
Origin: Drikung Kagyu
Filmed on Location: Boudhanath District, Kathmandu, Nepal
Dordzin Dondrup Palden Rinpoche is a Drikung Kagyu scholar and senior yogic retreat master who lives in a semi-permanent mountain retreat in the southern Himalaya. He is a leading instructor for Drikung retreat practitioners, especially at the important Lapchi retreat center in eastern Nepal.
Nubpa Konchok Tenzin Rinpoche
Lineage: Drikung Kagyu
Origin: Drikung, Tibet
Filmed on Location: Nayapati, Rinchen Ling Gompa, Kathmandu, Nepal
Nubpa Konchok Tenzin Rinpoche is the 12th Nubpa Rinpoche of the Drikung Kagyu lineage. While still in his mother’s womb, he was recognized by H.H. the 34th Drikung Kyabgon Konchok Tenzin Shiwai Lodro as one of the six important reincarnated lamas who looked after the Drikung Thil Monastery.
Ani Chonyi Zangmo
Origin: Shegatse, Central Tibet
Filmed on Location: Ewam Gompa, Pharping, Nepal
Ani Chonyi Zangmo is a Tibetan Buddhist nun and teacher at the Ewan Ani Gompa in Pharping, Nepal.
Dr. Sherab Tenzin
Origin: Easter Bhutan
Filmed on Location: Boudhanath District, Kathmandu, Nepal
Dr. Sherab Tenzin is a Bhutanese Doctor and Master of Traditional Tibetan Medicine (Sowa Rigpa). This ancient Himalayan knowledge of healing is based on centuries of experience, a systematic, logical approach which gives the complete understanding of inner body and its relation with the outer environment. His father who was a Dorji Lopon (Vajra Master), was an emanation of a great yogi from PemaKod, Tibet. Dr. Sherab received many teachings and transmissions from many important masters from Kagyu and Nyingma lineages. He has degrees in Tibetan Medicine and Surgery. He is the founder and director of Pure Vision Sorig Healing and Research Center in Nepal.
Dr. Robert Svoboda
Lineage: Sampradaha, Sampradaya
Origin: Texas, United States
Filmed on Location: Mumbai, India
Dr. Robert Svoboda is one of the first Westerners to graduate from a college of ayurveda and be licensed to practice ayurveda in India. He is the author of 12 books and often speaks on ayurveda, jyotish, tantra and allied subjects around the world.
Dr. Martina Ziskova
Title: Neurologist/ Ayurveda Practitioner
Origin: Jicin, Czech Republic
Filmed on Location: Budapest, Hungary
Dr. Martina Ziskova is a Czech ayurvedic doctor. Besides working with people on almost all continents, she writes extensively and is a former editor-in-chief of Light on Ayurveda Journal (now Ayurveda Journal of Health). Her current work and life journey is bringing her deeper into the psychological and energetic aspects of ayurveda and yoga with a quest to get to the core issues of who we are, how we function and what we need as individuals and society.
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Director/Producer Emma Balnaves
Editor Lindi Harrison, ASE
Composers Marihiko Hara, Ryuichi Sakamoto
Executive Producers Judy Yu, David Lipsius, Emma Balnaves
Associate Producer Alexandra Gilbert
Assistant Editor/Online Editor/Colourist Danny Phillips
Sound Design/Editing/Mix Carlos Manrique Clavijo, Tom Heuzenroeder
Copy Editor John Evans
Production Consultant Katrina Lucas
Principal Cinematography Umut Gunduz, Drew Stansbury
Additional Cinematography Tarun Jasani, Emma Balnaves
Nepal Sound Assistant Alexandra Gilbert
Studio Yoga Shoot Hendon Studios
Cinematography 1st Dop Chris Hertzfeld, 2nd Dop Umut Gunduz
Gaffer Richard Rees-Jones
Trailer Editor Tania Nehme
Translators Champa Hundrup, Bharat Giri Ratna (Tibetan), Soni Mainali (Nepalese)
Transliteration of Interviews Champa Hundrup (Tibetan) Mila Productions (Nepalese)
Subtitles Jampa Monlam (Tibetan) Jorgen Gazmere (Nepalese)
Graphics Abra Remphrey (Detour Design)
Shiva Samhita translated into English by Rai Bahadur Srisa Chandra Vasu
Director / producer
Emma Balnaves is the producer and director of AGNIYOGANA and an internationally respected teacher of the traditional forms and philosophies of Hatha Yoga. She has been teaching yoga since 1998.
Emma was introduced to yoga in her early teens when she became intrigued by the mystery of the practices and the feelings they evoked inside her. After studying visual communication, majoring in photography at university, and working in the creative arts in Sydney, New York, and London, Emma committed herself to a life of teaching yoga. Her early training began with a rigorous three-year apprenticeship at the Hatha Yoga Shala in Bondi Junction, Sydney, Australia.
After decades of in-depth study and research in yoga, Ayurveda, and other internal arts, Emma began incorporating the full spectrum of the yogic process in her teaching. AGNIYOGANA is her first film. She was inspired to create AGNIYOGANA as a way to share the essence of these teachings and bring greater understanding to all aspects of the practice.
Emma is the author of three publications, “Nataraja – the Lord of Multiple Forms,” “Yoga for Women,” and “Seasonal Mandala”. She is co-founder and director of Shadow Yoga (a form of classical Hatha Yoga) and Nṛtta Sādhanā. Emma resides in Adelaide, Australia with her husband and teaching partner, Shandor Remete. shadowyoga.com
EDITING / COLOURIST / SOUND DESIGN & MIX
Lindi Harrison is a highly acclaimed editor of award-winning Documentary, Drama and Arts programs for local and international broadcast and cinema release. She has edited a range of award winning feature length documentaries and has been nominated for several awards, including an AACTA Award for Best Editing in a Documentary.
Danny Phillips is an editor and colourist with over 15 years experience as a post-production professional. He has worked both nationally and internationally on projects ranging from small scale 3 minute micro-documentaries, to fully funded television broadcast series.
Carlos A. Manrique Clavijo is a sound designer who has worked in several award-winning productions including fiction, documentary and predominantly, animation.
Tom Heuzenroeder is a Primetime Emmy Award nominated sound designer and has worked in film and television sound post-production for over 20 years in Australia and abroad. He ran a studio in Adelaide writing and recording music for commercials and corporate productions before turning to feature films and establishing a sound facility at the South Australian Film Corporation. He has been recognized for his sound design work with an AFI award and the Australian Screen Sound Guild’s Andrew Plain Award for Best Film Sound Design.
Marihiko Hara is a composer residing in Kyoto, Japan. His main interest is to compose serene silence in music and to pursue his own texture of sounds, through electric/acoustic sounds and field recordings.
Our friend, Ryuichi Sakamoto, created a new piece of music for this film.
Umut Gunduz is a UK based filmmaker. He has worked as a director, editor and cameraperson for major broadcasters (CA, BBC) and various international companies and organisations.
Chris Herzfeld is a filmmaker and the founder of Camlight Productions, specializing in high quality imagery. He was the cinematographer and co-Producer of the short film “Alistair’ and has worked on five feature films.
Drew Stansbury is a multidisciplinary digital producer with more than 20 years experience in bringing digital products to life. He is an Executive Producer for ‘I’m Content’.
Thank you to our major crowdfunding donors
Gerald K. Wu
Shawn M Flot & Laurie Christomos
Christopher J. Koenig & Leah M. Wingard
Judy Yu & Mark Horner
Patrick & Amy Sweeney
Smadar Dvora Levy
Deirdre S. Longo
Richmond C. Dickson
Shelle & Brian Ball
Eugene J. Hunner
Hatha Yoga Desha
Linda Della Maggiora
Tony Wu Jia Ye
Danny and Kathryn
Fred Pockrass & Ina Pockrass
Gilbert Diêm Nga
Rebecca & Roland
Ron Van Der Ham
Asheville School of Massage & Yoga
Cinthia García Romero
Colleen M. Taylor
Defne and Kokia Sparis
Invisible movements-Nermin & Nesrin Salepci
John and Louisa Yu
Lakshmi Angela Norwood
Nicolet Montanus/ Shadow Yoga Nederland
Steven & Jill
And many thanks to all of the generous backers of our Kickstarter Campaign and at Donate.com for your support in bringing this project to life!
Thank you to the teachers and their students who supported the film through global studio fundraising events.
Shelley Massa Gooch