In the fitness section of the local library used-book sale a copy of Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice seized my gaze a couple of weeks ago. It was a large-format hardback, formerly in the library's circulating collection (Dewey Decimal catalog 613.704 TUR), in reasonably good shape, with photos of an attractive young yoga practitioner. It contained lots of large-print text that at first glance looked literate. The Introduction was by Robert Thurman, a professor whose name I recognized from something that I'd read last year, largely disagreed with, but found thought-provoking. Best of all, it only cost $2. How could anyone resist that? (Did I mention that the yogini who demonstrates twisty positions is exceedingly easy on the eyes?)
Alas, when I got Living Yoga home I belatedly discovered that its author, Christy Turlington, was a world-famous supermodel. (I've never heard of her, which says something about the cave I live in.) The book is more autobiography than yoga manual. Upon reading it one is immediately smacked in the face by a constant parade of "I", "me", and "mine"—front-stage-center intrusion which feels contrary to the spirit of selflessness and nonattachment that meditative yoga ostensibly embodies. On page 16 of Chapter 2, in fact, every single sentence features a first-person pronoun! (But between the self-promotional prose sections are many pictures of a lovely lithe lady.)
I skimmed onward and felt increasing disquiet. Bizarre statements about purported health benefits of postures are presented without evidence. Incredible anecdotes are related as if historical fact. Brief descriptions conclude with quasi-advertisements, "To learn more about X, visit their website" plus URLs. The book was published in 2002 and Chapter 25, titled "Non-Attachment", reads like a last-minute pasted-in tale of the author's 9/11 experience in New York City, focused especially on how the terrorist attacks disrupted her wedding plans. Did Ms. Turlington actually write most of the text herself? The copyright page credits Sabrina Dupré as "researcher and consultant" and the dedication thanks her for "keeping me focused and supporting me along the way". Was Dupré the ghost-writer? Perhaps instead of Living Yoga the book should be titled A Celebrity Supermodel's Life: Some Yoga Included. (But on the plus side, note that Ms. T is pleasantly proportioned and singularly flexible.)
Back it goes to the used-book sale donation cart ...