The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West

Michelle Goldberg. Knopf, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-307-59351-1
Curious about the roots of yoga, journalist/author Goldberg (Kingdom Coming) began digging for clues to the connections between the yoga of India and its Americanized version. She came across the obituary of 102-year-old Indra Devi (née Eugenia Peterson), often called the First Lady of Yoga. This fascinating biography delves deeply into Devi’s life (she was born in Latvia in l899 to a family of Russian aristocrats) while chronicling a wider history: Devi, a Zelig-like figure who was a student of the legendary sage Krishnamacharya, seemed to show up wherever the action was. Her life story, which touches three centuries (she died in 2002), goes from the Russian Revolution, Weimar Berlin, the Indian independence movement, and Japanese-occupied Shanghai to Hollywood, Vietnam, Mexico, Argentina, and Panama, where she was spiritual advisor to Noriega’s second-in-command. Goldberg painstakingly renders the details of Devi’s kaleidoscopic journey and also explores the underpinnings of her outlook, including a yogic disavowal of attachment, a yearning for freedom, and an unflagging (but not saccharine) sense of trust and positivity. Devi taught yoga well into her 90s. Though the text will be of particular interest to practitioners and teachers of yoga, this sparkling tale of a remarkable trailblazer should enlighten and inspire every reader. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/27/2015
Release date: 06/09/2015
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