It’s book review week on The Daily Downward Dog, and this time I read the male version of Eat, Pray, Love. Although Brian Leaf didn’t get to eat his way through Italy or travel to the yoga meccas of Bali and India, he provides a funny, testosterone-fueled, gastronomical yoga journey in Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi.
I have to admit, it was a real treat to read about Brian’s early forays into yoga, especially his description of being the only (and probably first) man to sign up for yoga at Georgetown University back in 1989. He describes a time when yoga was practiced on a towel – before sticky mats were even invented – and he had a giant laminated poster of Dharma Mittra demonstrating 908 yoga postures on his dorm room wall (can you say yoga geek?). It made me yearn for a time when yoga wasn’t quite so commercialized.
After college, Brian took off with a friend for a cross-country spiritual quest to find the yoga of his dreams. Along the way, he has some very cool yoga experiences, including one time at a Grateful Dead concert where he channeled the blissful energy of Jerry Garcia and a powerful out-of-body experience during a sandstorm in the White Sands National Monument Park. The chapters that cover their road trip are fresh and funny, and Brian is not afraid to poke fun at himself in the quest to amuse his readers.
Check it out – this book has a trailer – how cool is that?!
Beyond the wit, Brian is also gifted at demystifying yoga with down-to-earth and to-the-point explanations of the yamas and the niyamas, ayurveda, and his distillation of the seven keys to happiness, some of which include:
Do yoga. And if you already do yoga, do more yoga. [Amen, Brian!]
Follow your heart.
Speak and act from your true self.
I’m a big fan of treating health issues with natural remedies and physical activities like yoga. The cool thing about this book is that Brian is living proof that yoga heals. He has successfully used the practice of yoga and ayurveda to help cure his colitis, ADD, and a host of other neurotic issues.
I was not as enamored with the second half of the book. It covers a ten-year period of Brian’s various yoga teacher and holistic healer trainings coupled with his quest to deal with his inability to express anger (that part just seemed a tad whiney to me). Quite frankly, I kept trying to figure out how the heck he funded all this training without ever holding down a full-time job. Brian, this useful information would be extremely enlightening for those of us hankering to continue our yoga education.
Despite this missing plot point, I still recommend Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi. Put down those yoga textbooks you’ve been reading and take a real American yoga road trip. It’s a refreshing departure to read about yoga from a male perspective, get an inside look at ’80s style yoga, and have a few laughs along the way!
Check out the official Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi website, they have a fun video contest going!