For YOGAYOMU Vol.17, we interviewed with Kate Churchill, a director of yoga movie "Englighten Up!". English version of the article is available only in this blog site now.


1. What made you decide to make this yoga movie?

I was approached by a couple, Jeanne and Tom Hagerty who I knew through a local studio, about making a film about yoga. Jeanne and Tom had been on their honeymoon in Hawaii and met Norman Allen, who was the first American to practice with Pattabhi Jois in India (Norman was followed by David Williams and Nancy Gilgoff). Norman made such an impression on the Hagertys that they came home from their trip wanting to learn more about yoga and approached me about making a film. I then spent about 4 months researching and thinking about how to tell a story about yoga and what part of yoga to focus on for a film. We all agreed that we wanted to open up yoga both for people who practiced it and people who haven't ever practiced it, so that is how we came up with the story for the film.

2. What is this film about?

Enlighten Up! is the skeptic's journey into the world of yoga--it features Nick Rosen, a 30 year old skeptical journalist living in New York City. Nick has never done yoga. I bring him on as a test subject--we have 6 months to go anywhere in the world, investigating yoga, and measuring the impact on him. We start in New York City, travel across the United States onto Hawaii and throughout India. Along the way, we meet an incredible array of characters and go on a wild adventure.

The film features well-known yoga teachers from India and the U.S including B.K.S. Iyengar, the founder of Iyengar Yoga (who was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time), Pattabhi Jois of Ashtanga Yoga, Norman Allen, Sharon Gannon and David Life of Jivamukti Yoga, Diamond Dallas Page former pro wrestler turned yoga teacher, Dr. Madan Kataria of Laughing Yoga, Rodney Yee star yogi in Living Arts videos, Cyndi Lee of OM Yoga, Beryl Bender Birch of Hard and Soft Yoga, Natasha Rizopoulos of Yogaworks and many others.

3. Are you personally practicing yoga? If so, do you practice yoga for enlightenment?

I practice yoga four mornings a week with an amazing teacher, Aaron Cantor who has created a free-flowing practice that is a hybrid of ashtanga yoga, martial arts and Russian calisthenics. We also do some pranayama. I practice yoga to keep my body healthy and my mind clear which might make me closer to enlightenment but after making this movie, for me enlightenment is a long path filled with lots of practice.

4. As you have met many well-known yoga gurus around the world to shoot this film, did anyone tell you tips to become enlightened through yoga?

In the movie we feature many different yoga gurus and they each offer Nick guidance on seeking enlightenment, or in more simple terms, seeking happiness. We were lucky to have the opportunity to speak with so many great teachers and their wisdom is captured in the film. Different people respond to different teachers, so it is better for your readers to see the film for themselves and discover what is meaningful to them.

5. From when will this film screened in the US? Is there any plan to have this movie screened in Japan?

We are releasing the film in select cities in the US starting in September. We are confirmed to release in Boston, Boulder, Colorado, San Francisco, California and are in the process of confirming New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle and many others. So far, we do not have plans to release in Japan, although we would very much like to bring Enlighten Up! to Japan and I hope that will be possible in the near future.

Enlighten Up! - Trail

Kate Churchill - Movie director based in Boston, US

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