Yoga Journal China: Interview with Emma

 

Yoga Journal China: Interview with Emma

 

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What is your yoga background and what inspired you to make this film?

My background is Hatha Yoga. I was inspired to learn yoga after watching my great aunt practice when I was a teenager. I began to study seriously when I was working in design and photography in Sydney after finishing my degree in Adelaide. The idea of making the film came after teaching for twenty years in many countries and seeing how much confusion there was everywhere about the term ‘Yoga’.

How will this film be different from other documentaries about yoga?

This film introduces the crucial parts of the practice that have been left out in modern day schools. These areas are the the heart and soul of the Hatha yoga and Tantric practices that stem from the lineages of Goraknath, Matsyendranath and Milarepa.

How is the conception of yoga in Nepal and India different from those in Western cultures?

The Yoga in Nepal and India is part of an inherent structure within the culture, while in the west it is borrowed clothing.

Why are you crowd funding it?

Because making a film is not a simple task! To finish the film to the highest possible standard with post production so that it will gain international exposure it needs to be properly funded.

What challenges and opportunities have you encountered in designing and producing this film?

Finding a good team was my first challenge. I started with a Melbourne based production company who were a big help getting the project off the ground but I soon realised I had to work with people who understood the message I wanted to convey. In the beginning I was working with different videographers in several countries but this made it difficult to develop a consistent feel to the footage as the vision of the film grew clearer. By May this year I had found the team I wanted to work with and we are now all on the same page in terms of the vision for the film and how we want to achieve it. All the contributors have great expertise in Yoga or internal arts and shed light on some aspects of the traditional practices.

The sadhus at the Pashupatinath and Gorakshanath Temples are famously private and secretive about their yogic practices and lineage, how did you get access to interview them?

I was fortunate to meet the head of the Pashupatinath trust who gave us access to genuine sadhus on several research trips to Nepal. My husband was initiated into the Goraknath Sampradaya and this led to further access to the Goraknath lineage.

Could you share two or three of your favorite stories about interviewing these adepts?

I have made two trips to gather interviews this year in Nepal and India. Our first trip was in February 2017 during Shivaratri at the Pashupatinath temple, the craziest and busiest time at the temple. Because of our contact with the head of the Pashupatinath trust we were given media access passes and did not have to stand hours in line but we still had to get through the millions of people on the climb up and down the steps from the Bagmati river. This was an experience in itself as you do not walk but are literally carried by the crowd!

The most difficult subject we had to film on the final day of the festival was Doctor Tyaginath, a famous Aghora Yogi and Ayurvedic doctor who is one hundred and eleven years old. During the festival he stays on the Ghats where the bodies are cremated. He performs Homa (the fire sacrifice) every day in his un-ventilated cave so it was full of smoke! How were we going to film him? Fortunately for us on the second meeting we went later in the morning and the fire was out, so no smoke.

Tyaginath commented about how Ayurveda and Yoga both benefit physical health. He said “Ayurveda literally means to increase the life span (age). Whatever adds to the life span (age) is ayurveda… and “we need to practice yoga. It is beneficial for the body.” He also made a distinction between the term yoga and yog’ that was echoed by other Nepalese yogis. Yoga refers to the practices that build the health of the body and mind while yog’ refers to the spiritual and devotional aspects of practice. I have never heard this distinction made by any modern western yoga styles.

It was also interesting to hear these masters share views that are common today. A master yogi from the Goraknath Temple in Nepal, Sri Ramkaranta Bhatta, reiterated a view that is widely shared among modern yoga schools, namely, that the teacher must teach to the unique interests and abilities of the student.  And that disciplined practice is essential to making real progress. He also commented on the relationship between personal health as a foundation for the peace and well-being of our communities and our world. He said “firstly everyone should work for one’s own well being … without this we can not think about the well being of others. Then we have to work for the well being and peace in the world and in our country and also for the well being of world community.”

Interviews like this could be very rewarding but others could also be deeply frustrating. The best part was when one felt that a question had struck a chord with one of these masters and the answer was clearly coming from somewhere deep and true. As we begin work on the subtitles for the film the challenge will be to convey to the audience as accurately and fully as we can, the essence of what these masters said in those moments.

IMG_0241

What is your yoga background and what inspired you to make this film?

My background is Hatha Yoga. I was inspired to learn yoga after watching my great aunt practice when I was a teenager. I began to study seriously when I was working in design and photography in Sydney after finishing my degree in Adelaide. The idea of making the film came after teaching for twenty years in many countries and seeing how much confusion there was everywhere about the term ‘Yoga’.

How will this film be different from other documentaries about yoga?

This film introduces the crucial parts of the practice that have been left out in modern day schools. These areas are the the heart and soul of the Hatha yoga and Tantric practices that stem from the lineages of Goraknath, Matsyendranath and Milarepa.

How is the conception of yoga in Nepal and India different from those in Western cultures?

The Yoga in Nepal and India is part of an inherent structure within the culture, while in the west it is borrowed clothing.

Why are you crowd funding it?

Because making a film is not a simple task! To finish the film to the highest possible standard with post production so that it will gain international exposure it needs to be properly funded.

What challenges and opportunities have you encountered in designing and producing this film?

Finding a good team was my first challenge. I started with a Melbourne based production company who were a big help getting the project off the ground but I soon realised I had to work with people who understood the message I wanted to convey. In the beginning I was working with different videographers in several countries but this made it difficult to develop a consistent feel to the footage as the vision of the film grew clearer. By May this year I had found the team I wanted to work with and we are now all on the same page in terms of the vision for the film and how we want to achieve it. All the contributors have great expertise in Yoga or internal arts and shed light on some aspects of the traditional practices.

The sadhus at the Pashupatinath and Gorakshanath Temples are famously private and secretive about their yogic practices and lineage, how did you get access to interview them?

I was fortunate to meet the head of the Pashupatinath trust who gave us access to genuine sadhus on several research trips to Nepal. My husband was initiated into the Goraknath Sampradaya and this led to further access to the Goraknath lineage.

Could you share two or three of your favorite stories about interviewing these adepts?

I have made two trips to gather interviews this year in Nepal and India. Our first trip was in February 2017 during Shivaratri at the Pashupatinath temple, the craziest and busiest time at the temple. Because of our contact with the head of the Pashupatinath trust we were given media access passes and did not have to stand hours in line but we still had to get through the millions of people on the climb up and down the steps from the Bagmati river. This was an experience in itself as you do not walk but are literally carried by the crowd!

The most difficult subject we had to film on the final day of the festival was Doctor Tyaginath, a famous Aghora Yogi and Ayurvedic doctor who is one hundred and eleven years old. During the festival he stays on the Ghats where the bodies are cremated. He performs Homa (the fire sacrifice) every day in his un-ventilated cave so it was full of smoke! How were we going to film him? Fortunately for us on the second meeting we went later in the morning and the fire was out, so no smoke.

Tyaginath commented about how Ayurveda and Yoga both benefit physical health. He said “Ayurveda literally means to increase the life span (age). Whatever adds to the life span (age) is ayurveda… and “we need to practice yoga. It is beneficial for the body.” He also made a distinction between the term yoga and yog’ that was echoed by other Nepalese yogis. Yoga refers to the practices that build the health of the body and mind while yog’ refers to the spiritual and devotional aspects of practice. I have never heard this distinction made by any modern western yoga styles.

It was also interesting to hear these masters share views that are common today. A master yogi from the Goraknath Temple in Nepal, Sri Ramkaranta Bhatta, reiterated a view that is widely shared among modern yoga schools, namely, that the teacher must teach to the unique interests and abilities of the student.  And that disciplined practice is essential to making real progress. He also commented on the relationship between personal health as a foundation for the peace and well-being of our communities and our world. He said “firstly everyone should work for one’s own well being … without this we can not think about the well being of others. Then we have to work for the well being and peace in the world and in our country and also for the well being of world community.”

Interviews like this could be very rewarding but others could also be deeply frustrating. The best part was when one felt that a question had struck a chord with one of these masters and the answer was clearly coming from somewhere deep and true. As we begin work on the subtitles for the film the challenge will be to convey to the audience as accurately and fully as we can, the essence of what these masters said in those moments.