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 also selectively naive. She is street-smart but a bit of a dreamer, sometimes getting into crazy, she-did-WHAT?! situations. She’s not one to dwell on her life’s negative experiences–more often choosing to don her rose-colored glasses and resolutely march forward–but I definitely got the feeling she wasn’t just chasing her next adventure so much as she was trying to outrun past trauma.
In fact, I thought Goldberg’s use of a George Orwell quote to describe Devi in the introduction was spot on: “In this yogi-ridden age, it is too readily assumed that ‘non-attachment’ is…better than a full acceptance of earthly life…If one could follow it to its psychological roots, one would, I believe, find that the main motive for ‘non-attachment’ is a desire to escape from the pain of living, and above all from love, which, sexual or non-sexual, is hard work.”
Goldberg’s presentation of Devi’s life is both well-written and well-structured. As a whole, the The Goddess Pose is incredibly informative. However, it could also be dry at parts. More importantly, it did cross my mind when I finished the book, that I didn’t know Devi as well as I wished. I felt like I had spent the past 300 pages being a very distant observer: I learned many facts about her but, somehow, never got close.
Regardless, this was still an engaging read, and I was glad I stuck with it.