I know some might not like the term “chick lit”, but I place Meryl Davids Landau’s first book Downward Dog, Upward Fog in that genre because it reminded me of a yoga version of Sex and The City. Not that there’s a lot sex, but because the main character Lorna is a young woman with a great job and a hunky boyfriend, but finds herself questioning “is that all there is?” after she gets involved in yoga. It’s a sweet story about a woman’s transformation after drinking the yoga kool-aid.
A woman with a great marketing job, Lorna realizes that what she really wants is to stay on the spiritual path she keeps falling off of. Landau’s depiction of Lorna is realistic because she depicts Lorna as a person who loves what yoga and meditation can do for her, but she questions how to successfully walk the talk, especially when it comes to her not-so-spiritual boyfriend and co-workers. Lorna jump-starts her efforts at a silent yoga retreat, but like many of us — maybe all of us — she quickly loses her yoga mojo when dealing with daily life and especially in dealing with her negative and cruelly critical mother. Lorna wrestles over her future with her seemingly perfect boyfriend, but the more she gets into yoga, the more she realizes that she wants something more out of her man, something more than great sex and dinners at fancy restaurants. She wants a soul-mate.
Lorna’s ultimate test of her yoga path is when her sister, the perfect New Age spiritual teacher in Lorna’s eyes, suffers a tragic car accident. By the end of the book Lorna comes to understand that yoga is not about the pretzel poses but is about how you deal with the pretzel twists of daily life, mindfully and with joy.
The best thing about this book is that many women will be able to relate to it. As someone who travels to India to study yoga, I actually found it refreshing that the main character did NOT go to India. I am bored with angst filled white women in yoga lit books going to India to find themselves. In my opinion, that’s become cliche. Rather than running off to India in an attempt to find herself, Landau has Lorna find herself at home, working at her job, going out with her girlfriends, getting on the mat every day, and reading spiritual books by familiar New Age writers such as Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra.
Landau’s Lorna is a “regular” person attempting to live a yogic life in a non-yogic world. Yoga practitioners in Modern America will relate to Lorna who realizes that she is plowing “through my days unmindfully. Nine o’clock morphs into six o’clock without much awareness of what’s happened in between.” Sound familiar?
I think every reader will find a little bit of themselves in Lorna as she tries to meld her yoga life with her daily life, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, as only an imperfect perfect yogi can try to do.