As yoga's popularity has grown exponentially, it seems that everyone has a yoga story. It's hardly surprising, then, that we have seen a proliferation of yoga memoirs in the past few years. It's fascinating to read these tales of travel and transformation and, when the writing is good, it's a real pleasure. Below are my favorites.
Poser is Claire Dederer's story of yoga's positive impact on her life as a writer, mother, and wife. That may sound trite, but her story is told with such skill that even people with no interest in yoga, marriage, parenting, or the creative process will find this a good read. If you happen to fall under one or more of these demographics, however (as I do), expect some profound resonation. Read my full review of Poser for more info.
If you are Bikram-curious, like me, this book gives you a great vicarious experience. Lorr takes us deep into the world of Bikram yoga. So deep, in fact, that in the opening pages he finds himself dressed in short-shorts, about to compete in a national yoga championship. Lorr finds a great balance in relating his own story alongside the story of Bikram yoga itself. Read my full Hell-Bent review here.
Soul searching and personal transformation can get a little heavy, so it's extra refreshing when someone can bring a good dose of humor to the table. That just what Neal Pollack does in Stretch. This is the story of how yoga won over a skeptic but didn't rob him of his quick wit. Pollack takes pleasure in pointing out all that is ridiculous about the yoga industrial complex, and there is a lot. Check out my full review of Stretch.
Leaf's subtitle My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm my ADD and Find the Key to Happiness aptly sums up the trajectory of this book. Leaf is funny, not afraid to talk about defecation, and very earnest in his desire to pass on what he learned in the years he spent as a seeker. I wrote a mini-review of Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi when it was first published.
A classic tale of how the student must break away from her teacher is told with an attitude by Suzanne Morrison. The main part of the book is a diary Morrison kept while on a yoga retreat in Bali and her own commentary on the diary some ten years later, a style decision that doesn't always work. I wrote a bit more about Yoga Bitch in a blog post when it came out in 2011.