The Goddess Pose

The Goddess Pose When The Woman Who Would Become Indra Devi Was Born In Russia In 1899, Yoga Was Virtually Unknown Outside Of India By The Time Of Her Death, In 2002, It Was Being Practiced Everywhere, From Brooklyn To Berlin To Ulaanbaatar In The Goddess Pose, New York Times Best Selling Author Michelle Goldberg Traces The Life Of The Incredible Woman Who Brought Yoga To The West And In So Doing Paints A Sweeping Picture Of The Twentieth Century Born Into The Minor Aristocracy As Eugenia Peterson , Devi Grew Up In The Midst Of One Of The Most Turbulent Times In Human History Forced To Flee The Russian Revolution As A Teenager, She Joined A Famous Berlin Cabaret Troupe, Dove Into The Vibrant Prewar Spiritualist Movement, And, At A Time When It Was Nearly Unthinkable For A Young European Woman To Travel Alone, Followed The Charismatic Theosophical Leader Jiddu Krishnamurti To India Once On The Subcontinent, She Performed In Indian Silent Cinema And Hobnobbed With The Leaders Of The Independence Movement But Her Greatest Coup Was Convincing A Recalcitrant Master Yogi To Train Her In The Secrets Of His Art Devi Would Go On To Share What She Learned With People Around The World, Teaching In Shanghai During World War II, Then In Hollywood, Where Her Students Included Gloria Swanson And Greta Garbo She Ran A Yoga School In Mexico During The Height Of The Counterculture, Served As Spiritual Adviser To The Colonel Who Tried To Overthrow Panamanian Strongman Manuel Noriega, And, In Her Eighties, Moved To Buenos Aires At The Invitation Of A Besotted Rock Star Everywhere She Went, Indra Devi Evangelized For Yoga, Ushering In A Global Craze That Continues Unabated Written With Vivid Clarity, The Goddess Pose Brings Her Remarkable Story As An Actress, Yogi, And Globetrotting Adventuress To Life. Had it not been for an interview with the author on Fresh Air I probably never would have thought about reading this book Being the opposite of svelte or limber, any passing interest I had in yoga was squelched long ago What caught my ear was that Indra Devi, the woman who basically invented what the Lithe Ladies in Lemonlulu know as yoga today the daughter of an East European B grade actress mother and a Swedish father who abandoned the family ended up smack in the middle of most major world events of her lifetime She knew just about everyone worth knowing, and she was still globetrotting and being a pushy, charming diva up until shortly before her death at 103 years old If you expect this self described master of yoga was calm, peaceful, and ethereal, guess again Devi was a whirlwind, a force of nature, and usually found wherever chaos was brewing She could be moody, melodramatic especially about romantic partners , stubborn, and impractical She also could be charming, kind, and persistent She adored beautiful things and people while claiming to have reached detachment about them She could be loving and open to strangers, and then be cold and selfish toward her dying husband I don t think she was someone to emulate, but her life was certainly fascinating As a bonus, I learned a lot about the Theosophy movement, the New Age movement, the Jap
1.5 stars If you re interested in the history of yoga and how it s changed over the years, this is not the book for you The TLDR is that it was an aristocratic Russian woman who made yoga popular in the US, it was introduced as a very practical method of relaxation the spiritual quest part didn t start until the 70s Age of Aquarius era , and it started with bored rich housewives in the 50s The book needs serious editing There is little flow, there are too many people, and too many tangents it felt like she was trying to fill space The writing is good when she discusses Devi s influence, but a good chunk of of the book reads like Devi s travel itinerary and her contacts list, against a background of overly detailed descriptions of context e.g., there are pages on an attempted overthrow of the Noriega Pana
The author of this book was interviewed today on NPR It was interesting to me because I had started yoga many years back, when it was quite different than the practise today Goldberg commented on what I have seen and disliked in recent classes It resembles aerobics th
In The Goddess Pose, author Michelle Goldberg describes in well researched detail the unconventional life of Indra Devi, a Russian born aristocrat who eventually becomes a nomadic spiritual teacher of sorts There is no doubt that Devi is a fascinating woman and nothing like the zen yoga instructor caricature that I was anticipating Here I was thinking Devi was going to be quiet and serene, full of infinite peace and patience But, in reality, she is wild and somewhat reckless, intelligent but also selectively naive She is street smart but a bit of a dreamer, sometimes getting into crazy, she did WHAT situations She s not one to dwell on her life s negative experiences often choosing to don her rose colored glasses and resolutely march forward but I definitely got the feeling she wasn t just chasing her next adventure so much as she was trying to outrun past trauma.In fact, I thought Goldberg s use of a George Orwell quote to describe Devi in the introduction was spot on In this yogi ridden age, it is too readily assumed that non attachment isbetter than a full acceptance of earthly lifeIf one could follow it to its psychological roots, one would, I believe, find that the main motive for non attachment is a desire to escape from the pain of living, and above all from love, which, sexual or non sexual, is hard work Goldberg s presentation of Devi s life is both well written and well structured As a whole, the book is incredibly informative However, it could also be dr
Much about everyone but Devi than Devi herself I d have done better reading Devi s own work That said, I did listen to the whole thing But I didn t quite think the book really fulfilled the claim that it would show how Devi brought yoga to the west This was an audio l
Goldberg, Michelle The Goddess Pose The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 2015 322pp 26.95 Now that yoga is the province of slick promotions, self indulgence, and the sweat box mentality of exercise studios, it is hard to conceive of its beginnings in the rejection of ego and the acceptance of disappointment and suffering as the essence of life As a system of physical fitness, yoga is a modern phenomenon Indians, however, have been doing yoga for millennia, if by yoga is meant a plethora of distinct practices described by the great scholar of world religion Marcia Eliade as any ascetic technique and any method of meditation Indeed, Indian yogis were the original metaphysical hucksters, traveling spiritualists who turned a buck and cadged a meal by twisting themselves into pretzels and by walking on fire Now days, cute California chicks in spandex spend fifty bucks an hour sweating it out to James Taylor Between these two yoga worlds lived a woman named Eugenia Peterson, whose fascinating life, eccentricities, and convoluted business ventures are the subjects of The Goddess Pose.Michelle Goldberg is a journalist and the author of Kingdom Coming The Rise of Christian Nationalism , as well as being senior contributing writer at The Nation magazine Her story of Eugenia Peterson, born in 1899 in St Petersburg, is an historical caravan of delectable adventure, written
This is a long magazine article masquarading as a history book of sorts I have an aversion to writing such as we don t have any evidence for x for actually being here or feeling thus, but she MUST HAVE felt this way or that way because that s how it was then This book is full of such speculative writing Goldberg does not have many independent sources to confirm her subject s own letters and claims, so she heavily relies on general history and attributes to her various states of mind she may or may not have had She also plays fast and loose with various philosophical currents such as Theosophy and makes w
Not as interesting as I thought it would betoo many digressions into details about side character s lives I like the recent style of integrating personal reflections into straight historical accounts In the end I didn t learn much than what was covered in the interview with the author on NPR. Beyond tedious to get through The author went on so many tangents I couldn t keep track of what was going on Gave up 1 3 through the book because I could not stay engaged. A friend originally recommended this book to me and recently I found it in my local library They don t make women like this any Indra Devi was born in Russia in the last year of the nineteenth century and lived to be 102 During her amazing life spanning three centuries she almost singlehandedly brought yoga to the West She lived in Russia, fleeing from the revolution, then performed as an actress during the cabaret period in Berlin During the 1930 s she was led to India and was part of an international enclave who were involved in Madame Blavatsky s theosophy while she learned about various types of yoga from Indian teachers What was most surprising to me was that what we think of as yoga, now practiced on every corner of the world these days, was not some ancient tradition but rather synthesized from poses publicized by saddhu holy men and elements of new thought from theosophical and other philosophies In the years after World War II yoga was revived in India as a type of exercise the national movement could claim was a cultural treasure to give to the world Devi met Mahatma Gha

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  • Paperback
  • 336 pages
  • The Goddess Pose
  • Michelle Goldberg
  • 22 November 2017
  • 9781472152060