19. Enlightenment for Idiots

by Anne Cushman
started 4/20 finished 5/3
Perfect world Toni would get up at 4 a.m every morning to meditate and do several Sun Salutations to energize her and prepare her for her day (which she would navigate effortlessly with no stress).
Real life Toni rolls out of bed at 5:20, hops in the shower, throws on clothes, puts her hair in a ponytail (that’s it; thank the Goddess for dreadlocks!), and is out of the house at 5:50 to catch her train. (Although real life Toni got up at 4:30 this morning, not to meditate, but to watch the weather ’cause a couple of tornadoes was rolling through. She was able to get out of the apartment at 5:45 only to find a man asleep in front of the door across the hall – he explained that he was waiting for “Mr. Johnson to come home.” Whatever, I told him to remain out of the tornado and kept stepping.)
So, I said all that to say, that I read a lot about yoga and especially enjoy fiction that revolves around the subject. You can read all of the how-to and yogic philosophy books you can but novels give you insight into how people fit the practice and theories in their everyday lives. Cushman, a real live yoga teacher, spins the tale of Amanda, a first year yoga teacher and freelance writer. She writes mainly for a series of books “for Idiots”, similar to the Dummies guides. Her editor, wanting to cash in on the current yoga craze going on in the US, assigns her to write a book for the series on Enlightenment, naively thinking that it is something that you can achieve in a few months (it took the Buddha, like, forever!). Amanda, eager to end a back and forth relationship with her “boyfriend”, takes her up on the offer and heads to India to do her research.
She crosses the path of an bi-polar, celibate, expatriate named Devi Das and soon they are going from guru to guru to find the meaning of enlightenment. Amanda soon finds out she is pregnant by the man she has tried to put behind her and the trip takes on new meaning.
Just like the character Mara in Stuck in Downward Dog, Amanda finds herself at a crossroads in her life, as many of us do. While some turn to drugs, sex, food and other dangerous escapes, these characters are able to use their existing yoga practice to look within and find the answers and redemption that they need. One reviewer on Amazon.com called this book “Bridget Jones Diary meets Eat, Pray, Love”, and I couldn’t agree more.
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