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Breath of the Gods: A Journey to the Origins of Modern Yoga cover photo

Breath of the Gods: A Journey to the Origins of Modern Yoga 2012


Distributed by Kino Lorber Edu, 333 West 39 St, Suite 503, New York, NY 10018; 212-629-6880
Produced by Jan Schmidt-Garre and Marieke Schroeder
Directed by Jan Schmidt-Garre
DVD , color, 88 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
Yoga, T. Krishnamacharya, B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois

Date Entered: 03/21/2014

Reviewed by Barbara J. Walter, Longmont Public Library, Longmont, CO

…physical Yoga by the end of the 19th century, when it first came to the attention of the West, was regarded as acrobatics practiced by crooks for charity. It was Krishnamacharya who rehabilitated the physical part of Yoga in the 1930s. It was he who gave it the new form that became extremely successful and led to the huge Yoga boom that we have today.


The philosophical underpinnings of Hatha Yoga are thousands of years old, but what about the asanas, or postures, taught in yoga classes today? Is there a 5000-year-old text from which all current forms of Hatha Yoga are derived, or is there a more recently-developed source? How did Hatha Yoga evolve from a less-than-respectable practice for a handful of eccentrics in India to a worldwide health and wellness phenomenon? Director Jan Schmidt-Garre, himself an enthusiastic beginner yogi, travels to India to trace modern yoga back to its source—a complex task, since that source is a point of heated debate among yoga masters who studied with T. Krishnamacharya, the acknowledged father of modern yoga.

Through interviews with his children and two of his most renowned students, Patthabi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar, Schmidt-Garre crafts an honest portrait of the father of modern yoga and his lifelong effort to make the benefits of yoga accessible to all. Highlights include archival footage of Krishnamacharya, his wife Namagiri, two of his daughters, and his prize pupil Iyengar, who both charm and amaze with their grace and flexibility; and of a rather nervous director on the mat with Jois and Iyengar as his instructors.

A solid choice for academic libraries supporting programs in exercise science, Breath of the Gods is also well-suited for public libraries serving communities where interest in yoga is high—and where isn’t it?