How did the ancient practice of yoga, designed in India thousands of years ago for men, become so relevant and increasingly popular in the lives of millions of American women? In intimate interviews with the world’s leading experts, YOGAWOMAN explores this question with 50 women filmed over 2 years in 9 countries. Filmmaker Kate McIntyre Clere sat down with us for our own intimate conversation about this inspiring documentary and its message of peace and empowerment for the benefit of women everywhere.
Q: What inspired you to make this film?
A: We were interested why the ancient Indian practice of yoga designed for men thousands of years ago, had become so relevant and popular for women in today’s society. How women teachers have become such role models for modern women. With 17 million American women doing yoga we wanted to uncover how and where yoga was being used and why so many women flocked to this activity. That it wasn’t only stressed and over scheduled city women finding peace and balance but also women in prisons, hospitals, shelters and slums were also finding strength and solace through yoga.
Q: What role has yoga played in your own life?
A: I started yoga in college in a small cold hall in the south of New Zealand. The teacher wore black leotards and was VERY serious. I was intrigued but not convinced! However over the last 30 years yoga has changed so much and yoga has traveled with me through so many aspects of my life as student, teacher, wife, mother and filmmaker. Yoga is not just happening when I roll out my mat but the techniques are carried throughout my day influencing each moment.
Q: What was the most surprising aspect of making this documentary?
A: Sitting at the kitchen table when we first created Yogawoman, we decided that we would only include women talking about women. So we traveled the world looking for women to tell their story about how yoga was working for them and their communities. However I had no idea about how powerful these women were going to be. Almost every day of filming I was blown away by the caliber of these strong authentic women. As I sat in the cinema for the first preview screening, I was totally blown away by the radical life-affirming quality of seeing these 50 women (only women) sharing about their lives on the big screen.
Q: Annette Bening narrates. How did she become involved?
A: It was very important for us to find an inspiring role model to narrate Yogawoman. We wanted someone who had a voice that would capture the spirit of how yoga can work for women. Annette Bening started yoga in acting school and has been using yoga as an effective tool in her life to this day. We knew she would be perfect when we found out she might be interested. Thank you Annette, your voice makes the film sing!
Q: The film follows several women around the world practicing yoga. How did you find them all?
A: Research, Research and Research – Then we began our shoot here in NYC filming at a Yoga conference, we filmed some of the top women yoga teachers from around the world at the conference. Meeting these women started our journey. We have found that when making a film like this we have to get out of the way and let the film start to tell its own story, So once we started meeting some of these women we would hear about other women doing amazing work as Yoga teachers. We would then go and film them and find out about others and so on. The challenge of course is to know who to include and who ends up on the cutting floor. Many women did not make the film. We do intend to release additional footage one day!!!
Q: We understand that you created this film with your husband and sister. Were there any benefits or challenges to working with people you are so close to?
A: Filmmaking is not for the faint hearted. After devoting the last 3 years to the film we have all been on an extraordinary journey that has required us to call upon all the rich techniques of yoga to bring us to this theatrical release! “Remember to breathe” has been a popular saying for us on this film!
YOGAWOMAN opens Friday 10/19 at the Angelika New York. Join us opening weekend for a Q&A with Kate McIntyre Clere - tickets on sale now at angelikafilmcenter.com