As yoga, meditation and mindfulness become increasingly widespread and popular practices, it stands to reason that they should feature more and more on both the big and small screen. Whether meditation plays a part in a story about a character’s spiritual journey, or yoga is used in a romcom for the wealth of physical comedy opportunities it brings, these practices are taking on a starring role. So, even if you’re not in mood for limbering up in front of your mat, you can still learn invaluable lessons about yoga, meditation and mindfulness from the comfort of your sofa with one of these…
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Setting the Scene: In this light hearted rom-com, complete novice Peter (Jason Segel) finds himself in a yoga class with his ex-girlfriend (Kristen Bell) and her new partner (Russel Brand), who just happens to be a celebrity yogi. Peter ineptly struggles his way through various poses whilst his rival ‘displays perfect form’ according to a brilliantly deadpan yoga teacher Kristin Wiig.
What we learn: Attempting a headstand as a complete novice in an effort to show up a love rival who happens to be featured on the front cover of ‘Namaste Magazine’ is not a great idea. However, Russel Brand and Kirsten Bell do demonstrate some lovely technique if you’re looking for a good example of how to do it properly. Also, don’t go into a yoga class wearing a hat or drinking a cocktail…
Eat Pray Love
Setting the Scene: This “finding yourself” memoir does, at times, border on pretentious. However, in one scene Liz (Julia Roberts) perfectly captures how we’ve all felt one time or another when trying to get into the zone for a bit of meditation. She may have travelled all the way to India and be sitting in lotus pose in a special meditation room, but she still struggles to switch off the internal monologue of her wondering mind. Thoughts about where she’s going to live next year, to how difficult it is to meditate, and how annoying easy it is for other people seem to get into the zone, keep intruding as she tries to focus. This unbidden stream of consciousness is something novice meditators will find very resonant.
What we learn: Again, meditation is not a competitive sport and worrying about how other people are doing will only inhibit your own concentration. Secondly, and most importantly, you might be on the most exclusive retreat in the Tibetan mountains dressed up like you’re on the front cover on Namaste Magazine; it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to focus.
Bridget Jones’ Baby
Setting the scene: This long awaited sequel sees everyone’s favourite spinster with a bun in the oven and a few doubts about who exactly is the father. In an effort to prove themselves, the two possible dads, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and Jack (Patrick Dempsey) enthusiastically throw themselves into Lamaze classes, pre-natal swimming sessions, and yoga lessons. Cue prim and proper Mark Darcy looking very uncomfortable surrounded by exercise balls and yoga bricks, whilst Silicon Valley app developer Jack is in his element. If you can tear your eyes of Colin Firth, you might notice the YogaMatters Bolsters featured during the yoga scenes.
What we learn: Sometimes telling a woman in labour to “remember her yoga” is neither helpful nor welcome advice, and may result in a broken nose.
The Big Bang Theory
Setting the Scene: Sheldon (Jim Parsons) is joining Penny (Kaley Cuoco) for her daily yoga work out after she has fallen out with her boyfriend Leonard (Johnny Galecki). Despite Penny being a very capable instructor, Sheldon is about as inflexible as it gets and is more interested in rumours about advanced yogi’s specialised skills rather than perfecting his downward dog. When Leonard gets home, he is naturally surprised to find his geeky, sceptical roommate on a yoga mat. It turns out Sheldon thought Penny was suggesting Yoda rather than Yoga…
What we learn: Having a doctorate in Nuclear Physics doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be any good at warrior pose.
Setting the scene: This new series of the old classic has had rave reviews. One storyline in particular has been tugging at our heartstrings. Pete (John Thomson) finds himself struggling with depression. His ever-optimistic wife Jen (Fay Ripley) starts researching mindfulness and eventually persuades a reluctant and sceptical Pete to go along to an introductory session, in the hope it will help him. Whilst Pete finds the experience hugely helpful and meaningful, Jen can’t buy into it. Pete begins to practice mindfulness at home by focussing his mind on the intricacies of raisons, whist Jen is convinced there are “better uses for a grape” and instead concentrates her attention on a bottle of Shiraz.
What we learn: Not to make assumptions about mindfulness, the most stubborn sceptic might surprise themselves, whilst the keenest enthusiast could be left cold. Also, despite mindfulness being slightly parodied and used as a comic device, the fact that practicing it can have notable benefits to your sense of mental wellbeing is very clearly demonstrated and celebrated.