Posts Tagged ‘books’
Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Suzanne Morrison walked into her first yoga class in Seattle, looking for comfort in the midst of collective trauma and a way to overcome her fear of death. Yoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment is the hilarious and honest story of her search for inner calm, love and transformation.
After her initial introduction, she becomes enchanted by a seemingly perfect yoga teacher named Indra, and soon signs up for a two-month teacher training in Bali with Indra and her partner, Lou. The couple becomes for 25-year-old Suzanne an example of true, adult love between two people on the spiritual path. She also encounters a range of characters (who embody the whole spectrum of yoga stereotypes), drinks her own pee and has a kundalini awakening.
Suzanne does a great job of writing about yoga in a way that is real, gritty and funny. The book is sprinkled with sharp one-liners and wry observations of the people around her. “Wellness is very big among my yogamates. If Wellness were a person, it would be Michael Jackson circa 1984 and my yogamates would be screaming, crying fans, jumping up and down just to be so near to it. Kind of the way I would act around a cup of coffee and a pack of cigarettes right about now.” Continue Reading
Just what the world has been needing: an illustrated children’s book of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity“! Andrew Kolb was genius enough to realize that the narrative arc of the David Bowie space rock classic translated nicely into a children’s story. Sure, it’s a sad story, but so are many children’s stories! It’s a prophetic lesson about the thrills and dangers of space travel. Or, if you prefer, a fitting metaphor for the human ability to expand beyond our limitations and reach other states of consciousness.
Not only did Andrew Kolb put the time and effort into creating this book, but he’s made it available as a free download (PDF 13.3 MB)!
The photo caption on Slate.com’s article on the yoga memoir as a lively new sub-genre says, “Writing about yoga is nearly as popular as practicing it.”
There is definitely some truth in that. The article takes a look at recent yoga-themed memoirs, including Suzanne Morrison’s Yoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment, Neal Pollack’s Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude and Claire Deder’s Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Poses.
“Since the 2006 publication of Elizabeth Gilbert’s blockbuster memoir Eat, Pray, Love, another trend has surfaced: the profusion of searching first-person narratives of yogic self-betterment,” notes writer and practitioner, Laura Moser in the article.
I find this interesting because I’m aware that, as a white, literate, self-betterment-seeking woman in my mid-30s, I am the target market for these books. In fact, if I’d had gotten my ass in gear, I could have published my own yoga memoir by this time: a gripping story of a woman lost and aimless in her late 20s, who moves to a North American ashram to find herself and then ends up editing a yoga magazine in a slightly sinful city, and finally finds contentment and self-acceptance as a yoga blogger. Fascinating!
I am also intrigued by Laura’s baseline complaint about these recent memoirs: “The yoga theme seemed, if you will, overstretched at times. Despite having intermittently practiced yoga for exactly a decade myself, I did get pretty tired of all the ‘yogic’ revelations dropped into these books as if by editorial fiat.” Continue Reading
Oooh, it’s a special guest post from the delightful Suzanne Morrison, author of Yoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment! She shares a story about one of her favourite yoga classes ever, which took place right here in Montreal. Suzanne is a writer and performer based in Seattle, Washington. Yoga Bitch is based on her long-running one-woman show, which played around the world to rave reviews.
Do you remember how much it sucks to be 25? Holy good god, it’s wretched. I mean, maybe you’re in your twenties now, and you’re all: Hey, old lady, it’s great out here with my drunken twittering and sexting and watching Dance Moms with this boyfriend I swear to God I’m going to love forever. But I am here to tell you: You are in hell. You just don’t know it yet.
It’s great fun, sure—all that drinking and smoking and staying up late. All the big plans for the future. I’m sure it was wonderful to have no wrinkles around my eyes. But honestly? I’ll be 35 this fall and it’s just a better place to be. At 25, I was sick with worry. I didn’t know what the future held for me, for my relationship, for my family; if I would become the person I wanted to become. I wasn’t even entirely sure who that person was. I had recently graduated from college and as a writer and performer I knew I had to leave my hometown of Seattle for New York in order to make a career for myself. But I didn’t want to leave. I loved Seattle, loved being near my family, loved the rain and the coffeeshops and the bookstores.
I felt like my grandparents would age ten years the day I left Seattle. I worried I would lose people. Friends, family members. That we would grow apart and eventually not even miss each other. I dreaded the day when I would start referring to New York as my home.
And then September 11th happened, and I started doing yoga. I quickly developed a sort of teacher crush on Indra, a tall, wise, beautiful yoga teacher who had found herself, her spirituality, and the love of her life through yoga. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was in the market for all of those things. I thought that if yoga had made Indra the amazing woman she was, then maybe it had something to offer me.
Many yoga practitioners and teachers believe that yoga is good for us on all levels: spiritually, emotionally and physically. However, lately there is increasing evidence that yoga can be harmful as well as healing. Recent articles in Time Magazine (“When Yoga Hurts,” from 2007) and The Globe & Mail (“Trouble on the Om Front,” from 2009) are exploring the reasons behind statistics indicating an increase in yoga-related injuries. Between 2004 and 2007, approximately 13,000 people were treated for yoga-related injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Kevin Khalili, a chiropractor based in California, has added another voice to this growing (and essential) conversation, with his self-published book, X-Posed: The Painful Truth Behind Yoga & Pilates. Here, he claims that common motions and positions in daily life – which are actually stressful and unbalanced – are duplicated during certain yoga exercises. He singles out improper lying down, sitting and bending/lifting from the waist as the most dangerous motions.
In his chiro practice, Kevin noticed that yoga (and Pilates, but I’m only focusing on the yoga here) are the source of many needless, painful injuries, and he was compelled to research and study how this could be prevented. The information in X-Posed is supported by plenty of studies and academic reports (listed in a six-page bibliography at the end of the book), as well as observations in his office. According to his research, the most dangerous classes of poses are seated, forward bends and inversions. He includes a chapter on each class, detailing the aspects of the poses that are hazardous for most body types, and including alternatives. A chapter called “Lost Treasures” lists the “hidden gems” that are beneficial for most bodies.
I find it interesting that Kevin notes that North Americans have approached practicing yoga in a “dangerously uncritical way,” and that the positive effects of yoga (including the “sense of elation” that many of us feel after practice) have clouded our judgement. As well, yoga is marketed as something that is innocuous and beneficial, leading us to believe that it’s all good. “Motion is motion,” he writes, “and just because we are performing a wrong motion in a tranquil healing environment, it doesn’t make it a right motion for your body.”
Yet, X-Posed is not an attack on yoga, and Kevin repeatedly says that he is concerned about the safety and health of practitioners. The tone of the book is reasonable and balanced, and the information is well-researched. Since the book was self-published, the writing and editing isn’t as rigorous as the research, but the information is there and the intention is clear.
It takes a lot of courage to speak out consciously *against* yoga. Luckily, Kevin can explain his reasons for writing the book better than I can. He graciously agreed to answer some questions for me.
What is your intention with this book?
My intention is to help establish safer standards of practice for yoga via valid scientific principles. In a nutshell: reduce risks and boost benefits of yoga practice. Continue Reading