Updated: Oct 30, 2018
The video Yoga: On the Architecture of Peace is available on Netflix and through Amazon. This documentary follows Michael O'Neill's quest to photograph yogis from around the world. The video is a complement to the book which was reviewed earlier on PhotoYoga.
The documentary starts with a tour of Michael's archives, looking into his history photographing celebrities and his early travels to Tibet. He talks about the photos he made and those that only exist in his mind.
He then turns to the medical event that paralyzed his arm making photography impossible and takes us through the journey to regain movement and his art through meditation and yoga.
The book and this documentary is about the 10 year project exploring the world of yoga and Buddhist thinking. During the project, he traveled to India 8 times and to many other places seeking to meet and photograph the great minds of yoga and to show the different ways yoga is practiced and what yoga looks like.
The video is punctuated with photos included in the book and many, many others. The video is not simply the making of the book it is a truly different experience.
At times Michael O'Neill narrates and provides insight into his journey and the stories behind some of the images. He speaks of what yoga means to him and what practicing meditation and yoga has taught him.
Video scenes with the yogis add an element that extends what was possible with the book. This includes the making of some of the photographs, the sounds and music of India and the words and teachings of the yogis themselves. The video adds movement to the yoga poses captured in the images.
The video highlights the foundational philosophies of yoga - the ideas and practices that influenced Michael O'Neill. In many ways it provides an introduction to the philosophy.Various yogis explain what yoga means to them and what yoga is. They provide insight into how yoga is a way of interacting with life and the world.
At times, Michael makes the connection between yoga, meditation and photography.
As mentioned in the book review, there are yoga poses that some may find disturbing.
The video contains a beautiful collection of images and videos of the people and places of yoga. The images plus the words of the yoga teachers are the central focus of the video.
The most powerful part of the video is near the end when the various yogas talk of coming to terms with our own deaths. Michael talks of his own sense of what death means to him.
There are plenty of ideas to consider in this video. The beautiful photography and accompanying music will place you in a state to receive and contemplate these ideas.
In the words of one of the yogis, yoga is off the mat - every breath - every action - yoga is what you are.
Article Written by Jennifer Mishra
Jennifer Mishra is an American travel photographer born in Colorado and based in the St. Louis metro area. She has a background in classical music and academia. She is the founder of PhotoYoga. Her photos are published at Wits End Photography or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.
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