The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West
When Indra Devi was born in Russia in 1899, yoga was virtually unknown outside of India. By the time of her death, in 2002, it was being practiced around the world. Here, New York Times best-selling author Michelle Goldberg tells the globetrotting story of the incredible woman who helped usher in a craze that continues unabated to this day. A sweeping picture of the twentieth century that travels from the cabarets of Berlin to the Mysore Palace to Golden Age Hollywood and beyond, The Goddess Pose brings the Devi’s little known but extraordinary adventures vividly to life.
cutouts, so that the murals seemed to talk. There were numbers based on old Russian legends and on life in czarist Russia, and more modern sketches such as “Time Is Money,” about the hectic mechanized rush of modern society. Somehow, it was all imbued with a sense of ethereal naïveté, a deliberate innocence. One critic called Der Blaue Vogel a “pearl of the light genre…On seeing these things, one swears by cubism. Here the pattern fits. It produces modernism of a fairy-tale-like
that I am the World Teacher & says she will go on with ceremonies etc. etc.!!” He must, he writes, “get out of all this rot.” Eugenia kept one foot in each camp, continuing to venerate Krishnamurti even as she stayed close to the Theosophical Society. After the end of the convention in Adyar, she installed herself in the cool, park-filled southern Indian city of Bangalore, a couple hundred miles away. There was an active Theosophical scene there, and Eugenia—who had started going by the
maintain both his health and his spirit. “The object of jail appears to be first to remove such traces of humanity as a man might possess and then to subdue even the animal element in him so that ultimately he might become the perfect vegetable!” he wrote to his sister Nan. “Soil-bound, cut off from the world and its activity, nothing to look forward to, blind obedience the only ‘virtue’…” Amid the squalor, degradation, and hideous boredom of prison, practicing asana helped him maintain his
the maharaja threw open the gates of the central jail and released nearly two hundred prisoners. The wedding ceremony was held in the palace’s spectacular octagonal marriage pavilion. Cast-iron pillars painted a rich peacock blue supported a soaring domed ceiling made of stained glass with intricate images of peacocks and floral mandalas, motifs repeated on the mosaic floors. It all “presented a scene of Oriental grandeur,” reported the Times of India. The groom arrived on a richly caparisoned
awakened Devi’s affections—this skinny, lost, blue-eyed young woman with pale skin and pretty, soft Slavic features reminded Devi of her long-ago self. Devi instructed her to start practicing yoga and promised to make her a disciple. Iana was overcome, but at first lassitude got the better of her, and she ignored Devi’s advice. Two weeks later, she received a letter from Devi checking on her progress. Ashamed that she hadn’t made any, she went to the Sai Baba center, where a hatha yoga course was