Peace, Love and Pineapples

An inspiring yoga memoir

One glimpse at the book enLIGHTened piqued my interest – a yoga memoir? Learning the author was Jessica Berger Gross sealed the deal. I loved her anthology About What Was Lost, a collection of essays on miscarriage. In fact, I remember her miscarriage story distinctly because she wrote about pursing holistic health treatments to boost fertility. She also talked about traveling to India to try to adopt a baby. When I read Lost, I myself was on a path toward natural fertility treatments and happened to be planning a trip to India where I’d visit an orphanage. But that’s old news.

These days Jessica is out with enLIGHTened and sharing how learning yoga – not only its postures, but its philosophies – changed her life. Forty pounds overweight and depressed, Jessica signed up for an overseas program as a college student. She had no idea that going to Nepal would mean trekking around the Himalayas and eating vegetarian meals, like dahl baht. Or that she’d find herself in a yoga class – the one place where despite her struggles, she felt beautiful in her body. The pounds melted off. Unfortunately, they came back – Nepal was only a semester-long program – but this time Jessica knew how to restore her health for good.

With a supportive husband, Neil, and an energetic dog, Salem, the book chronicles Jessica’s journey. It’s sprinkled with nutrient-rich recipes, such as Dragon Bowl, grilled vegetable kabobs with mustard sauce, and a ton of pineapple (including instructions on how to slice into the yellow fruit for those who are intimidated by the prickly skin). If you want to start your own home yoga practice, Jessica (who completed teacher training) walks you through a sequence. Bobby Clennell, a yoga teacher at the Iyengar Institute in NYC, drew the book's illustrations. Jessica also explains tenants, known as yoga sutras, such as satya (truthfulness) and ahimsa (non-violence). The book was so inspiring I woke an hour early this morning to take an extra long walk with my dog.

enLIGHTened: How I Lost 40 Pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples, and a Beagle Pointer by Jessica Berger Gross (Skyhorse, $22.95)

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