Yoga Bitch (Calm down; it's the name of a book)

Written by Joslyn Hamilton.

I just finished reading Suzanne Morrison's memoir Yoga Bitch, a cheeky account of her attempt to get enlightened at a cultish yoga teacher training in Bali. I really enjoyed this book. As a disclaimer, I have to add that it was sent to me by her publicist in the hopes that I would review it favorably on sites just like this one. And to sweeten the pot, Suzanne wrote a great piece recently for my own web site, Recovering Yogi. But, you guys, I swear on Buddha's tree, I really loved this book. It was the sort of story that keeps one up until the wee hours, resulting in what we nerds like to call a reading hangover (just one step lower than a sugar hangover in terms of nerdness).

yoga bitch

As a wary yogi myself, there is nothing I appreciate more in a spiritual seeker than the ability to laugh at oneself. So I really adored Suzanne's self-deprecating account of her extended yoga immersion in Bali, and how it altered her personality and affected her soul. From the part where she gets all smug-enlightened after basically hyperventilating during a pranayama exercise to her lingering hesitancy to buy in to the urine-swilling cult she found herself engaged with, I related to a this story of a one-foot-in-one-foot-out yogi trying to reconcile her own down-to-earth belief system with a powerful ancient practice that can sometimes be a freak magnet.

As someone who spent many years in the yoga industry as both a willing participant and a behind-the-scenes assistant to a major yoga teacher, I am oh too familiar with the sometimes holier-than-thou attitude of the yoga elite. I myself spent many hours of my life trying to cleave the truly wise from the fake-it-til-you-make-it crowd, and rationalizing what I knew of my own teacher's personal life as it lined up (or didn't) with what he preached.

But although Suzanne's book raised a lot of interesting questions about the yoga world for me (and inflamed my PTSD a wee bit), I was mostly just fascinated by the whole concept of DRINKING ONE'S OWN PEE.

Let's talk about this.

Okay first, it's disgusting. Being basically a scientist at heart, I just can't get past the simple fact that urine is a waste product. I have a subscription to National Geographic, y'all, so I know that humans evolved with a gag reflex for a reason: to keep us from doing stupid things like drinking our own pee.

And while I can concede that some predilections are simply cultural - like the way we Americans think it's disgusting to eat insects, while in some countries it's a delicacy - I suspect that urine-drinking is not in this category.

I was riveted by this plot arc while reading Yoga Bitch, and while I don't want to give away any spoilers, I found myself wondering just how susceptible I myself would be in a circumstance like Suzanne's: living halfway around the world in a highly persuasive yoga community with a bunch of people who I perhaps admired and also kind of feared, surrounded by otherwise solid advice and positive results, being implored on a daily basis to c'mon, just try it. Just drink your own pee. Just this once.

I'd like to think I have the conviction to Just Say No. But the truth is, I've done many silly things in the name of yoga. There but for the grace of God go I.

About Joslyn Hamilton

After ten years in the yoga industry as a teacher, studio manager, and minion for alleged gurus, Joslyn Hamilton launched a freelance writing business. Outside Eye Consulting's mission is to help each client clarify their message and get their word out to the world. Joslyn is a regular contributor at Elephant Journal. With Vanessa Fiola and Leslie Munday, she co-founded Recovering Yogi, a refuge for the spiritually disenfranchised. Joslyn is based in Marin County, California.

Related Links