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Living your yoga: finding the spiritual in everyday life, by Judith Hansen Lassiter (Rodmell Press)

I respect the contribution made by Judith to the field of yoga; she has founded and confounded institutes and journals, taught, spoken publicly, and pushed the boundaries of a field that has helped lots of people. I found her book, however, hard to swallow and skipped over most of it. The book talks in a kind of new-agey psycho-babble that makes my neck hair stand on end.

Her book is based on the premise that a lot of people in yoga have which is that everyone has a true self or nature and our job is to chisel away at all the stuff that is not this essence. “When you are in a state of yoga, or wholeness, you rest in your own true nature.” (p7) And she preaches – and yes, it is a kind of preaching – things like “Abiding practice” (p 39) to remind us that there is nothing outside our true self that doesn’t already exist, we just have to find it.

This sort of makes everyone born a little deity, spoilt by the world and circumstances, and having to peel off the layers of impurity to become true. I can’t glorify humans like this. I think that we are no more than an evolving species that is shaping and being shaped by the world. And that will one day (maybe not so far off) we will become extinct, or change beyond recognition to adapt to bigger planetary movements. We are social beings, learning – to survive, both within this lifetime and over the arc of time. Hopefully, our selves change. Certainty our identities do.

I am totally down for the idea of the spiritual in the every day. And I listen quite hard to my body. What is it telling me – to eat, to do? What am I feeling here? I also read, reflect, and act on data – what people or research tell me – which helps inform what I eat and do. It helps me adapt how I feel to be more strategic, more patient, or calmer. In other words, I learn.