Stretch by Neal Pollack

April 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Yoga Articles

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I confess: I’m a little burnt out on yoga books. There are a lot of really good instructional books about yoga available at your local bookstore, usually showing photos of key poses and ideas on how to arrange them into sequences. Yet more and more books following this model continue to be published and aggressively marketed as something new and different. Well, if you really want to read something different about yoga, I can recommend Neal Pollack’s Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude.

Not Your Ordinary Yoga Book

You may remember Pollack from the early, heady McSweeney’s days. If you liked his humor, you may have checked out one of his previous books, which include a rock-and-roll novel and a parenting memoir. You may have missed the pivotal moment in his downward spiral when a reviewer in The New York Times called him doughy, balding, and ordinary. It was after this critique and the crisis it precipitated that Pollack allowed his wife to cajole him into taking a yoga class at the gym. There, amongst the florescent lights and workout jams, the seeds of redemption were planted. Well, actually, he just caught the yoga bug like the rest of us, except that he’s a funny writer. And while there are a lot of things that are funny about doing yoga in 21th century America, most writing about the subject is pretty dry, so a yoga page-turner is worth noting.

Pollack’s story of how yoga became a powerful force in his life follows a well-worn path: first crush at the health club leads to deeper exploration at the local yoga studio, leads to working the front desk at the local yoga studio, at which point you know you’re in deep. Like many of us, Pollack tries different styles and teachers until he finds what fits. He attends yoga conferences and retreats and isn’t afraid to name drop. Pollack’s position as skeptic who drank the Kool-Aid works for me because it’s pretty much my story, except mine has a lot less drugs. It may well be your story, too. Those yogis who are not naturally athletic, were never a member of professional dance troupe, and were not raised in a yurt, in other words, ordinary yogis, have found our spokesmodel.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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