Tag Archives: neal pollack

Slate: Writing about yoga is as popular as practicing it

Navel Gazing

In the post Eat, Pray, Love world, the yoga memoir—or yogoir—has become its own lively sub-genre.

By Laura MoserUpdated Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, at 7:15 AM ET

As anyone who’s practiced yoga in a studio abutting an Arby’s can attest, the ancient Indian tradition has hit the big time in the United States. Yoga is a $5.7 billion global industry, with an estimated 15 million Americans professing to some sort of yoga practice (though that number looks awfully low to me). And 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. (In case you’re one of the five people who hasn’t read or seen Eat, Pray, Love, the basic gist is: Successful but unfulfilled thirtysomething writer chucks it all, marriage included, and travels the world to reclaim lost joie de vivre, spirituality, and so on. Revelations ensue.)

Even in their modern incarnation, confessional yoga-themed memoirs have a longer history than Elizabeth Gilbert’s conjugal unhappiness. Three years before Eat, Pray, Love, the actress Mariel Hemingway published the turgid Finding My Balance: A Memoir with Yoga, which pairs the formative events of her past with favorite poses from her yoga practice. (“Today is the day after the horrifying terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. … I feel the grief and shock through all my body as I stand here in Mountain pose.”) In 2005 there was Lucy Edge’s Yoga School Dropout, which chronicles, in rather exhaustive detail, the ashram-hopping adventures of a former London ad exec who goes to India in search of enlightenment, the perfect yoga butt, or at the very least a husband.  read on

Yoga: The True Path To Awesome Poops

Posted by Neal Pollack on Alternadad/October 15, 2009
Yoga: The True Path To Awesome Poops

Yoga does many wonderful things. It clarifies the mind and provides a solid ethical foundation for a productive, happy life. For physical fitness and a way to make loving friendships that last, it can hardly be topped. It can be a path to spiritual ecstasy. But for me, one of yoga’s most profound benefits is also one of its most simple:

If you practice regularly, you take awesome poops.

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a dispatch from Neal Pollack at the sixth-annual international yoga championship (read: balls like atom bombs)

posted by lalabean

“Top Yogi” by Neal Pollack [who practices ashtanga]
Rabbit poses, coconut water, and a Bikram-practicing dance team at the international yoga championship.

To those of us who’ve spent years practicing yoga in an atmosphere of soft-lit candles, chanting, and nonjudgmental good vibes, the idea of a yoga competition sounds about as absurd as the idea of competitive prayer. On my way to the 6th Annual International Yoga Asana Championship, held at the Westin Hotel LAX on the weekend of Feb. 7, I steeled myself to bear witness to some sort of whacked-out yoga circus, and that’s more or less what I got. But a lot of yoga culture feels weird and circuslike to me anyway, so I would have felt disappointed if it had ended up being otherwise. I can now also tell you that there’s a chance competitive yoga will soon be an official event at the Summer Olympics.

At the center of the weekend, wearing flashy suits and various fedoras, stood Bikram Choudhury, the animating force behind the competitive yoga circuit. Here’s a man who’s copyrighted his style of yoga (26 postures, repeated twice, in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit), sends cease-and-desist letters to those who dare flout the copyright, and, in interviews, summarily dismisses all other forms of American yoga while also bragging about his love for McDonald’s and his large fleet of self-restored Rolls-Royces. He once famously told Business 2.0 magazine that his yoga was the “only yoga.” When asked why, he said it was because he has “balls like atom bombs, two of them, 100 megatons each. Nobody fucks with me.” Not surprisingly, other yoga circles view him and his particular craft with everything from mildly dismissive amusement to a disdain coming close to disgust…

…continue reading at SLATE