Free Inside

There have been some interesting people in my life recently; often creative and brilliant in both their thinking and their manner of conduct. Due to this, there have been constant projects, exhibitions and happenings going on all around me and sometimes I end up with the opportunity to get involved with something great.

Today was one of those days, where I got to tag along on a studio shoot with a humble crew of 4, two yoga teachers and a whole bunch of bright lights for the upcoming experimental MA doccie, Finding Freedom. This led to a morning of slow mo shooting both teachers doing Surya Namaskar whilst we bathed them (and everything/everyone else) in flour for some magical movie moments.
Both teachers, whilst first confounded by the reality of the flour all over their arms, were able to meditate on commanded and subsequently produced mesmerizing footage that I can’t wait to see as part of a feature.

Once I’d gotten over my original excitement of just being there, I got curious and started asking questions which led me to the realisation that this film wasn’t just about beautiful cinematography, but that it was also about following the stories of two people who teach yoga in prisons all across Cape Town. The yoga is primarily breath work which attempts to assist in the rehabilitation of inmates through meditation and self-transformation through reflection and movement.

This program could offer a fascinating insight into the practical outcome of conscious and mindful practices that manifest due to the combined aspects of self-guided process of introspection and movement. This has left me with a lot to think about, and a lot of research to do as well as many more questions to ask, but in the meantime I’d like to reflect on this quote from a teacher in the Malmesbury prison program

When I started teaching yoga I used to expect my students to do the pose the way I do it. When I saw one of them was not able to stretch completely, I used to panic and focus on him, thinking that I can make him do the pose the way I wanted him to. In the end I failed to do so and I started to see myself as a failure, believing that there is nothing I can do right. But as I sat back and practiced yoga with a clear mind, not putting expectations into it, I came to realize that yoga is not about the pose or the physical exercise that you perform, yoga is to unite your body, mind, and the soul, to be one, and puts you in a state of being really you, helping you experience your true self. I noticed that this realization comes in its own time when I do yoga. It did not come in the times I was expecting it, it just came naturally. This is when I realized I can teach yoga but I can’t force the fruit of yoga onto my students. It should come in its own time to them because it is meant to be.
Now without having expectations on my students I see the growth in them and feel their connection with the spirit of yoga. I love them very much!
– Mandla, Teacher Training Course feedback from module 4 at Malmesbury Prison

Luckily, the documentary will also follow the life of two inmates who partook in the yoga program and who have subsequently been released, which should provide a tangible rather than theoretical representation of the effects of a yoga based rehabilitation. For now, however, I’m just thrilled with some of the wonderful shots and the new ideas that I got introduced to by working on this project.

NEWSFLASH (19 April 2016): Finding Freedom has been officially accepted into the Durban International Film Festival. Desmond spent many months of his life shooting large portions of the footage seen in the film. Congratulations to all who worked on the project and we here at JDBA can’t wait for the first screening of the final film.



Free Inside Studio Shoot Behind the Scenes
Photography: Jamie Dimitra Ashton
Lighting Design/Set-up: Desmond Bowles
Yogi’s: Leela and Brian from SevaUnite
Shot for Roxanne Dalton’s Masters Documentary at the University of Cape Town

IMG_1950small IMG_2264small IMG_2427small IMG_2520smallOTHER SHOOTING DAYS FOR FINDING FREEDOM