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Book Review : Yoga School Dropout
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22nd June 2006 
Yoga School Dropout by Lucy Edge
Reviewed by Kate Moss

You don’t have to be a travel or a yoga enthusiast to enjoy reading this book. In fact as soon as you read the synopsis you know you’re in for a treat, the ironic self-deprecating, dare-I-say-it very British sense of humour comes across straight away. Lucy’s plan was to travel to India and “find a guru and return a yoga goddess – a magnetic babe attracting strong and sweaty yet emotionally vulnerable men with my pretzel-like body and compassionate grace.” Puts a smile on your face straight away!

And the book itself is no let down. Lucy arrives in Mysore and it doesn’t take her long to observe the lack of depth in the beautiful (mostly western) people gathered in trendy yoga centres and cafes, bending their bodies into all sorts of impossible positions and cherishing their chakras. She also realises very quickly that she has a long way to go if she wants to become a pretzel and enrols in her first gruelling course with Mr ‘please be tucking in at all times’ Venkatesh. My favourite quote from him is “Raising eyebrows not helping in raising leg”.


Lucy’s description of her experiences in Mysore is funny and poignant, evocative of how it must feel to go straight from the world of advertising in London to yogic India. Particularly so was the account of her near-fatal encounter with Indian tap water, courtesy of a fellow traveller’s belief in the ayurvedic principle of being at one with the universe. It was a pity that she didn’t warn her guests that her home made ginger cordial contained tap water potentially laced with dangerous nasties! Lucy describes her stomach as doing a very good impression of a water melon, and on finding a doctor ‘”I want to go home” cried Lucy, aged six and three quarters’. I know exactly what she meant! Still, this, and all other encounters of various kinds are described with such humour and insight that you almost don’t realise just how brave she was to be making this journey, and how much wisdom is being gained. It creeps up on you as the book progresses.

After Mysore Lucy experiences the regime and rules of the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala. Here she encounters the aptly nicknamed Swoony Swami, and sees beyond his racing-driver good looks to a wonderfully peaceful and inspiring presence. It is here that she starts to feel the need to change, to stop seeing finding a man as the answer, and focus instead on her spiritual development independent of anyone else. Lucy concluded that ashram life was good for her, both physically and mentally, although she was happy to escape from her room-mate’s snoring and the inch-thick mattresses. After serious abstinence from all vices plunging headlong into New Year celebrations is described as a sort of decadent anticlimax resulting in hungover regret!

The book continues with entertaining and insightful accounts of time spent at numerous ashrams and yoga schools. As she travels Lucy starts to view yoga and spiritual development through the eyes of the ordinary people of India, such as waiters, tailors, and government officials that she met. They see yoga as a way of being, and the world as their school, akin to our university of life perhaps. To them it is not a physical goal or a quest for the perfect body. They might practise breathing, meditation, and a few exercises at home, informally and often alone rather than in classes or groups. Lucy concludes that their happiness is in the here and now, with little regard for material wealth, and this is probably the most important learning she returned home with. Alongside this she has many more tales to tell about gurus, both real and suspect, and westerner’s antics. Faking a Tantric orgasm with an Australian who normally spends his time healing washing machines using astrology, crystals, and Tantric energy is a personal favourite.

On top of a highly entertaining, insightful, and evocative read, there are a few little presents at the back of this book. Firstly there is a recipe for apple muffins, which I am looking forward to trying. Secondly a very useful glossary covering many yoga and hindu terms – it was from this I first learnt that ‘OM’ incarnates the original sound of the universe, I had been OMing mindlessly before that! Thirdly and fourthly, there is a list of useful contacts and further reading.

This book is definitely on my ‘must read’ list, and my thanks to Lucy Edge for sharing her experiences with us. Living proof that if you really want to you can transform your life and have plenty of fun along the way.

About Lucy Edge:

Before this life-changing trip to India Lucy was a director of a top advertising agency in London, working very long hours and sometimes unable to work out what she was achieving. Since returning from India she has down sized to a small flat in North-West London and moderated many of her previous expensive habits. She is now working on her second book, and has a part-time job in research. She reckons that she is happier than she has ever been and would consider it a great honour to be viewed as an ‘ordinary’ Indian, so long as she can still indulge in the odd chocolate peanut and glass of white wine.

: Yoga School Dropout by Lucy Edge

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