The Goddess Pose

The Goddess Pose When the woman who would become Indra Devi was born in Russia in yoga was virtually unknown outside of India By the time of her death in it was being practiced everywhere from Brooklyn t

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  • Title: The Goddess Pose
  • Author: Michelle Goldberg
  • ISBN: 9780307593511
  • Page: 389
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 inWhen 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.

    One thought on “The Goddess Pose”

    1. 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 wor [...]

    2. 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; [...]

    3. 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 more resembles aerobics than the peaceful, careful discipline. I look forward to reading the history of early yoga in the West.

    4. 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 [...]

    5. Much more 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 listen, and I found the pronunciation of Sanskrit grating, and I found the lack of knowing how to pronounce Patanjali to be grating, too. Not a favorite.

    6. 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, [...]

    7. 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 [...]

    8. Not as interesting as I thought it would beo 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 more than what was covered in the interview with the author on NPR.

    9. 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.

    10. Let's go on and get this out of the way: how can you call a book "The Goddess Pose" and then have the cover not be the goddess pose? I know publishers often have the last say in cover choice, but really?This was an unique look at history as it was related to one interesting woman. Either in the beginning of the book or in a review, someone compared her to Forrest Gump in how she often landed herself in historically important places at just the right time. While she wasn't in quite as well-known [...]

    11. This book is a mixture of being really interesting and really dull. If you have just picked this up for the yoga, then there's a lot of other stuff to plough through, but if you like a wide reaching biography that starts in Russia, takes in India and America, and numerous other places, then this might be for you. I wanted more yoga, and I would have also liked more about Christopher Isherwood and Marilyn Monroe (both mentioned in passing) as well as more about yoga and spirituality in the 60s as [...]

    12. I love nothing more than biographies of trailblazing women, and I also love yoga. This book combines both. The author organizes and translates the long and fascinating story of this woman's life in an exceptional manner. It's equal parts history, feminism, spiritualism, individualism and of what can happen when you just go for it in life. One of the best biographies I've read.

    13. I picked this one up for the Pop Sugar and Read Harder challenges. In this book we are reminded of the history of Yoga and the person who brought it to Western America. An informative read with lots of research about the person and the impact that it has on our daily lives. I enjoyed the story very much and found it to be a great read.

    14. An interesting account about a fascinating life. It's too bad that there was not more censure against the corrupt gurus.

    15. Essential reading for anyone interested in yoga beyond Lulumon.My biggest quibblea HORRIBLE cover. Couldn't they find an image of Indra Devi? Fire that designer!

    16. Two words are adequate to describe Indra Devi--"lucky" and "survivor." She was a Forrest Gump Zelig like observer to world events for a century. From the Russian Revolution (she was from a White Russian family) to the overthrow of Manuel Noriega in Panama she was there. Unfortunately she didn't record what she saw or heard, another reason she managed to survive so long, but her biographer Goldberg manages to piece together the story of this enigmatic and extraordinary woman. She is the person mo [...]

    17. Recommended to me while attending a Mexican yoga retreat by the teacher. I enjoyed Goldberg's writing style and the biography reads like a veritable Who's Who of yoga: Krishnamacharya, Vivekananda, Krishnamurti, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and B. K. S. Iyengar. As mesmerizing as it is tramping after Indra Devi, throughout her globetrotting life, meeting one Hollywood starlet, government attache or infamous guru after another, one feels as if one never gets to the real gist of Indra Devi. The Goddess P [...]

    18. The first time I heard the name Indra Devi, it came out of the mouth of one of my favorite yoga teachers in LA. So when I saw the book, "Goddess Pose," at Strand Books, I just scooped it up hoping to discover WHO this Indra Devi, preacher of the most "emotional" kind of yoga, was. Well, I've JUST finished reading the book and I still don't know. The earlier chapters were fascinating with her early years in Europe. Devi's historically relevant LIFE kept her running from one war torn country to an [...]

    19. This is a really interesting read about a solitary woman who shows up all over the world at pivotal moments in human history- from her initial home in Riga to Moscow, which she left in 1917 when revolution was on the streets, to Berlin and her eventual departure with the onset of world war II. Devi found herself in India as it sought independence from the British, and on the street in Dallas when Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. She lived in Hollywood and taught yoga to the rich and famous of h [...]

    20. Eugenia Peterson was born into minor aristocracy in Russia. Forced to flee the country, she traveled the world searching for something. She found that something in India when she began to study yoga. First, she introduced it to the diplomats in China while stationed there with her husband. Then she moved to America and helped to birth the yoga revolution here in the United States.While this book seems fairly admiring of Indra Devi (the name Eugenia eventually started using), she sounds to me lik [...]

    21. This probably should have been subtitled 'The life and times of Indra Devi', as it does take several comparatively lengthy detours to flesh out the lives of some of the people who came into contact with Devi. This is mostly fine, usually interesting, but occasionally a bit frustrating. One oddity for a biography is that it has no photographs, not even on the covers; whether this is because of trouble with the Devi estate (the book is very clear-eyed about its subject, but perhaps a little too mu [...]

    22. An interesting biography about a fascinating, well-travelled person of broad and eclectic experience (Devi seems to have been a witness to or participant in about half of the 20th century's most important historic events); and also, a history of the creation and rise of yoga practice in North America. I would have given it four stars, but photos of all the author's subjects are described rather than included in the book. I'm a simple person - I love seeing photos of the people I'm reading about, [...]

    23. The book starts off slowly as a biography of a young girl from an aristocratic family finding her way. A little boring. The story gets chugging as Devi discovers yoga in its different incarnation of that time. Not so much about poses or hatha yoga but about meditation and chanting. The section that describes the actual history of hatha yoga is brief but engaging. In the end Devi was given a somewhat fair assessment by the author.

    24. A fascinating journey through the almost incredible life of an unusual woman. A biography that draws together disparate and surprising threads of history. In telling a biography I believe it is important for the biographer to maintain some degree of dispassion and I think the writer does this in a balanced way. An engrossing read with plenty of prompts for self reflection.

    25. I was very excited about the subject of this book, and it does have a fair amount of interesting yoga history. The prose was mediocre at best, though, and some of the reporting felt a bit lazy.

    26. Reads like a who's who of the 20th century in the yoga world. Had never heard of her. Very impressed with her courage to live an adventurous life.

    27. Great book about not only the life of Indra Devi but about yoga and the sociopolitical background that brought yoga to the West. Michelle Goldberg did a great job in painting not only a spiritual movement but the atmosphere of an era.

    28. I'm struggling to correlate this story of yoga charlatans and cult like behavior with the calming and energetic stretches and poses I do. The recreation and nonattachment of Eugenia throughout her life were pretty incredible. She did a lot in her life, though most of it seemed to be a result of her character more than her skills or perseverance.

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