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Sadhaka: The Yoga of BKS Iyengar

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“Asana is firmness of body, steadiness of mind and benevolence of spirit” says Lindsey Clennell. This long-time Iyengar teacher uses BKS Iyengar’s quote to illustrate what his son Jake’s new documentary Sadhaka: The Yoga of BKS Iyengar is about.

Dad, who first met Iyengar 45 years ago, serves as Executive Producer which means he’s the one raising the money. He’s doing so via Indiegogo…the first time this veteran filmmaker has used crowdsourcing as a funding option.

"BKS Iyengar is the inspiration. To enjoy and benefit from his teaching directly is an extraordinary experience. Having received months of intensive teaching from him with groups attending the Pune Iyengar Institute (RIMYI) over the years since 1975, I have had a chance to evaluate the long term effects of his approach to yoga practice on myself and others.


My wife, Bobby Clennell, is also a teacher and we have both observed the way yoga has become popular from when we first started in 1969. Many teachers have done good work, but every generation someone comes along who has enormous influence. BKS Iyengar, through his direct teaching, through his teachers, through his books and through his example of focused devotion to yoga practice, has had an enormous influence on the subject. In years to come people will want to know what this man was like. In one way, it's a film for them."

In the 22 minute trailer, available on Indigogo, a sculptor creates a figure of Hanuman. “Hanuman is a metaphor” suggests Clennell. “He represents devotional love.” The movie is about “how you to get to what Hanuman represents.”

Jake Clennell, who first met “Guruji,” as Iyengar is known to his students, when he was five years old is an experienced documentarist in his own right. His film, The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief won the Best Feature Documentary Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The Clennells joined forces on this project because they wanted to show “Iyengar in his own context, an Indian cultural context.”

Jake traveled on his own throughout India taping hundreds of hours of film. He used translators in three languages and spent months in Bellur interviewing teachers, students, doctors and nurses who have benefited from the Bellur Krishnamachar & Seshamma Smaraka Niddhi Trust which has built a high school, primary school, hospital and water system for the city through the proceeds of Mr. Iyengar's Yoga.

The elder Clennell suggests that by funding most of the production with his own money, using his and his son’s long-honed skills combined with taking advantage of their trusted access to Iyengar and his family will enable them to create a superior film, up to BBC/PBS standards, for less than a third of what it would have cost another group to produce. Plus they get to keep “complete creative control.”

That control and access allowed them to follow the stories of two other long-time Iyengar students, Father Joe Pereira and Mimi Batliwala. Father Joe, a Catholic priest, in Mumbai runs a clinic to support people with chemical dependencies and HIV/Aids. In that same city, Mimi runs the WeCan Orphanage and School for Girls. In both cases viewers watch them use the tools of asana to help others overcome afflictions. Lindsey Clennell says that “asana helps you break through stuff. It does have a psychological effect. It empowers in a number of different ways. It’s not fancy poses. It has the capacity to free the mind from afflictions so you can find your stable affectionate nature.”

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Sadhanka: The Yoga of BKS Iyengar is taking donations on Indiegogo for just 17 more days - which is not a lot of time. The proceeds will go towards post production work. About $30,000 has been raised of the $60,000 target amount and final 90 minute movie should be ready for distribution in the spring of 2014.

Donations are coming in from around the world as many Iyengar students recognize that Guruji’s inspiration, his student’s work and this film are true “labors of love.”

Go to Indiegogo and make a donation of any amount now – before you forget.

--Brette Popper

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