Movie Review: Awake – The Life of Yogananda

In the early 1920’s one spiritual prodigy heard the calling to transmit his guru’s message of peace across oceans. His name was Paramahansa Yogananda and his method of self-realization would transform him into America’s most beloved modern mystic. First landing in Boston, Swami Yogananda would travel to Los Angeles to found an ashman in the foothills of Mt. Washtington. Thereafter his national lecture tours would catapult him into celebrity status. After visiting practically every major U.S. city along the way, Yogananda would culminate his spirit venture by returning to India to write his magnum opus, An Autobiography of a Yogi. His oftentimes trans-religious lectures would inspire generations of western innovators from George Harrison to Steve Jobs.


I found Awake to be a beautiful and moving documentary showcasing the inspirational life and teachings of Swami Yogananda. The film gathered decades of original footage from the Yogananda’s life I never imagined existed. Similar to Darshan, one of this film’s strengths was how its directors (Leeman & Florio) integrated awe inspiring visualizations with devotee interviews and original footage. Their efforts made the Swami’s legacy feel intimately tangible to our own era. Another nice attribute of the documentary was its observance of the Yogananda’s core yoga teachings throughout the seasons of his own life. This aspect elevated the film into a moving and breathing example of the life well-lived and lectured.


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