Neal Pollack, looking more flexible than one might expect.

It gives me faith to know that Neal Pollack, the author of Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude, is out there talking about yoga in the dark nooks and crannies of the American subculture. In his recent interview on The Bat Segundo Show, Neal is appropriately humble, neurotic, self-deprecating and honest. His voice reclaims yoga from the beautiful and flexible women, with their perfect postures, flawless smiles and flowing locks, and presents the practice as something that anyone can do.

Self-described as “just a guy lumbering through a bunch of yoga poses trying to calm his mind,” Neal gracefully lumbers through a bunch of tough questions. I always enjoy interviews conducted in a non-yoga context (The Bat Segundo Show is a cultural and literary podcast, with a fantastic line-up of previous guests) because I feel they illuminate aspects of the practice that those of us in the trenches may overlook.

For example, the interviewer asks Neal why he gives so much attention to bodily functions in the book. “If you’re going to write a yoga comedy,” Neal replies, “you have to have a farting scene.” To illustrate a point, of course.

Some other highlights:

  • Neal’s repeated reference to his audience as “yoga people.”
  • His observation that the North American yoga scene is “an absurd culture.” He notes that the intersection of east and west is a source of endless comedy.
  • The discussion about yoga journalism ~ Neal was asked why there isn’t the same kind of in-depth journalism of yoga as there is of other fields, like politics. To which he responded that it doesn’t need to be covered every day by a beat reporter. He also alluded to recent “controversies” in the yoga world, which the interviewer found fascinating.

Listen to the full interview here.