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