Review of Namaste The Hard Way

Review of Namaste The Hard Way
Yoga wisdom is all around us, and apparently that’s true even at a chain drugstore. Last week, while shopping at Rite-Aid, I wandered past the book racks and spied a small yellow tome entitled Namaste the Hard Way: a Daughter’s Journey to Find Her Mother on the Yoga Mat. Of course, I picked it up, looked Yoga over the back cover, and read the first two pages. Then I brought it to the cashier and purchased it. Last night, I finished reading, and I’m glad I did.

Currently a writer and yoga teacher living in London, Sasha Brown-Wortham isn’t one of the luminaries that we see on Yoga Glo or in the pages of Yoga Journal. In many ways, however, she’s a much more accurate representation of the yoga teaching community. Yoga wasn’t her first career, and she struggled with the philosophy for many years. At some point, however, she found herself back on the mat, rebuilding her life. In a nutshell, that’s the subject matter of this memoir.

Like her story, Brown-Wortham’s writing isn’t especially flashy. Her prose is polished but not pretentious; while the various vignettes aren’t told in sequential order, there's no attempt to present this as "literary." Rather, it's a personal reflection of three intersecting lives: her mother’s, her daughter’s, and her own. Weaving one theme at a time throughout multiple experiences, Brown-Wortham demonstrates that yoga philosophy can be adapted for different times and different people. From the hippie-dippy days to the Lululemon era, and on into the future – the teachings are eternal.

The author lost her mother when she was sixteen years old, and much of this memoir is taken up with Brown-Wortham’s need to understand her mother’s life and the impact of her early death. Those of us who lost our mothers young (I was twenty-one) will identify with her. Every reader will understand the need to make meaning out of heinous circumstances and to understand how they change a person’s identity.

Parenting is difficult and important, as this memoir makes clear. In the same vein, the tween and teenaged years are both messy and transcendent. Brown-Wortham details the good and the not-so-good, showing the ways in which everyone, with the best of intentions, does damage to the ones they love. Each new story seems to comment and challenge the previous one; by the end of the memoir, the reader is left realizing that no relationship is uncomplicated. While this seems obvious, it’s a truth that we often forget. Brown-Wortham brings it to the surface, allowing us to grow and change with her.

The one problem I found with this memoir is that it doesn’t address the inequalities that currently dot the yoga landscape. This is the story of one women across various points of her lifetime, and no attempt is made to bring the personal story into the larger context of what it means to be a yogi/ni in the days of bring yoga to the larger community. However, as a personal reflection, it’s a well-told and engaging memoir filled with wisdom.

Yogis and parents alike will enjoy this read. Seek it out or order it from your Local Bookstore if you can (unlike me!) At less than 300 pages, it’s packed with stories and ideas that will inspire reflection. Book club members, take note – this memoir is well worth sharing with others.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the author. I purchased this book with my own funds.

Brown-Wortham, Sasha. Namaste the Hard Way. Health Communications Incorporated, Deerfield Beach, Florida, 2018. ISBN: 978-07573-2060-6

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