As many of you know, I started off my summer vacation lamenting over what I would read. Thankfully I have a friend who happened to read my post about a woman without a book and she sent me something!!!! I was overjoyed to receive a copy of Yoga Bitch, although I had never heard of the book, I was more than happy to give it a try. I felt like it was a book made for me. Here was a woman who found herself in love with yoga, she was twenty-five, and at odds with her world. Really what more could I ask for? It seemed meant to be.
I will say that my friend did warn me and said that this book was not the most well written piece of non-fiction, but that it was humorous and kept her entertained. That was all I needed. I wanted a book that was going to keep me occupied, maybe give me a few laughs, and if I was really lucky expand me in some way. What I got was something along those lines….
The back of the book boasts a story about an atheist young woman seeking enlightenment amongst of group of “piss drinking” yogis. Yup, that’s right folks, the back of the book says that! If this isn’t enough to catch your attention, I don’t know what will!
I opened the book and was introduced to Suzanne, who is not only the author, but the narrator of our tale. At the time the book is taking place she is in her early twenties, having just graduated college and sure that she doesn’t believe in a God or a higher power. It isn’t until 9-11 happens that she is faced with the fact that death is imminent, there is no running from the end that will meet us all. In her search for something to help her face the idea of death, she stumbles upon a yoga studio in her neighborhood of Seattle.
(not her studio…from the book is sounds dimly lit all the time)
Suzanne explains how she had practiced yoga before, but it was always part of her theatrical practices, she had never gone to a class devoted to breathing and finding one’s center. But one of the most interesting aspects of her story is her infatuation with her yoga instructor Indra. The boarder line girl crush that Suzanne has on Indra is the driving force for much of the plot. She explains that Indra’s preference for her as a student helps to push her towards her decision to spend two months in Bali becoming a certified yoga instructor. When Indra become disappointed with Suzanne or shows her indifference it greatly affects Suzanne’s mood and how she views her yogi experience.
The majority of the book is about her experience in Bali in her teacher certification course, but prior to leaving she is dealing with moving to New York with her boyfriend of 5 years, her grandparents both on the verge of passing, and a desire to continue searching for herself. I wish I could say it wasn’t like Eat, Pray, Love, but it was. Both books deal with the same themes and tropes, but Eat, Pray, Love does it in a much more sophisticated and nuanced manner. Yoga Bitch is the college edition of Eat, Pray, Love.
So we follow Suzanne to her yoga certification course in Bali where we are introduced to your stereotypical “yoga” characters. These people are bran eating, vegetarians, doing yoga to cleanse their spirits from the material world we live in.
Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE yoga and the practice, but the characters we first meet in Bali appear to be every image of what a yogi would be. In fact, for the narrator she shies away from her yogamates at first thinking they are all in some sort of yogic cult (she prefers to refer to them as the “piss drinking cult”). Suzanne is appalled when her head instructors not only suggest that everyone drink at least one cup of their own urine a day to stave off infection, but that they must forsake sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, and sex during their training period, not to mention a strictly vegetarian diet.
I loved this book because Suzanne is not your typical yoga student. She struggles with the requirements set before her. She doubts her ability to remain a vegetarian and to go through the exercises set before her, but she does…for the most part, the whole drinking pee thing is something else.
The book has a humor to it and it doesn’t take itself seriously. I don’t get the impression that when the author wrote it she was hoping for each reader to walk away with a profound sense of enlightenment, but rather a soft glowing of introspection.
Introspection is the key to this book. Suzanne is always looking inward to question herself, her desires and her wishes. And while the book is mostly her journals from her time in Bali, at the start of each chapter she relates her experiences after Bali to give the story a well-rounded understanding of what Suzanne brought away from her trip.
The story is filled with haunted blenders, Prada purses, piss drinking, and hallucinations. Not to mention an internal search for understanding at a point in your life where you feel like everyone else has their shit together and you are left standing at the railway station debating which ticket to purchase. Overall Suzanne Morrison creates a fun and playful book about a yoga journey, a journey that says its OK to want to look like a model for Yoga Today magazine walk as if you are enlightened, but really we are all just playing at it. Do not expect this to be life changing, but expect a few laughs and a few moments where you can relate.
I would recommend this to any twenty-something who is still looking for something in their life. It is one of those stories that makes you feel a little less crazy for not wanting to work a 9-5 yet (a sentiment that might be felt by my fellow twenty-somethings struggling to find jobs in a harsh economic environment).
Leave me some comments if you have read it and let me know your impressions!
**M for Pocket Owl Press**