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Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude [Kindle Edition]

Neal Pollack
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $1.99
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Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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Book Description

From Neal Pollack, acclaimed author of Alternadad and The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature, comes Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude. Here is the hilarious but true account of an overweight, balding, skeptical guy who undergoes a miraculous transformation into a healthy, blissful, obsessively dedicated yoga fiend.

Editorial Reviews


“Touching as well as funny...Ultimately, Pollack lampoons himself more than the culture, and this is perhaps the most compelling evidence of Pollack’s conversion: his inability to be snarky about yoga.”

From the Back Cover

The hilarious true account of an overweight, balding, skeptical guy's unexpected transformation into a healthy, blissful yoga fiend.

Neal Pollack was out of shape. The hair on his head was thinning and the hair on his face was pretentious—traits a New York Times critic gleefully pointed out while panning his second book. Combined with the predestined failure of his punk rock band, it was almost too much for Pollack to bear. He was willing to try anything to get his life back on track . . . even yoga.

While struggling to master difficult poses without kicking other yogis in the face, Pollack actually, remarkably, began to feel better, both in body and mind. Soon he found himself immersed in the "weird and circuslike" world of yoga. He participated in a 24-hour yogathon, attended yoga conferences and Asian retreats, went to yoga rock shows, started getting regular assignments for Yoga Journal magazine, and, finally, began teaching yoga classes himself.

Stretch mercilessly lampoons the bizarre, omnipresent culture of yoga, but it's also a story of profound personal transformation. Pollack started off mocking yoga. Now he's become one of its most enthusiastic proponents.

Product Details

  • File Size: 731 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Original edition (August 10, 2010)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003TLN1DK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,985 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Whether You Care About Yoga Or Not August 11, 2010
Yes, there is a lot about yoga in this book and Pollack's journey through yoga is the story, but this book is really about a a guy who is on the verge of a full-blown midlife crisis and attempts to deal with it by re-discovering his "best self." Pollack pulls this off by avoiding sentimentality and self-pity - his wit and humor is sharp and hits the target. It is clear that Pollack is not a wild-eyed yoga zealot, he finds yoga teachers and methods that speak to him, but he also pulls no punches when it comes to some of the more cynical yoga-marketing schemes (the "yoga championship" section is really a marvel). I found myself for-real laughing out loud whenever I picked up the book.

As someone around Pollack's age (and not that into yoga), his journey resonated with me this book resonated with me. Yes, I went to some yoga classes after reading the book, but more importantly it served as a reminder to try to find my own "best self" and not take myself so damn seriously.

Highly recommended.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The yoga dude you don't want in your class.... August 8, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had hoped to like this book as much as I had liked the bit if it which was published in Yoga Journal.
I did like his rather snarky sense of humor, but I was totally turned off by how selfish and inconsiderate he was to his wife and son. If my husband ever invited two young women to stay overnight at our house, and then went on a "road trip" with them, he would not be my husband for long ! Ditto leaving me at home and spending a week at a Yoga retreat in Thailand.
He almost comes across at times like the inappropriate Yoga Dude who uses Yoga as a means to hang out with hot women - he spends more time with them than with his family.
Sorry, but Neal simply comes across as childish, self absorbed, selfish, and unprofessional. Aside from his near - hero worship of Richard Freeman, he was pretty disrespectful. Last, but not least, he seems to have completely missed the entire point of Yoga, self control, compassion, non-harming, and sense control.
He was rude to those around him, he constantly re-injured his back (listen to your body, non-harming includes yourself), and spent most of his time either stoned or drunk. It seems the poor man is still lost in the 60's.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Snarkiness, Searching for Best Self September 5, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Neal Pollack's humor tends toward the snarky, with a very sharp eye for the foibles of contemporary culture. After getting trashed by a New York Times book review for looking doughy and having thinning hair, he experiences a bit of personal crisis. He's no Saint Augustine, and the depths of his angst are toward the shallow end of the pool. He starts doing yoga at a 24 hour fitness center, and discovers that he likes it and it seems to do something a bit more worthwhile than tone his abs. He begins to suspect that yoga might help him reconnect with his best self, an entity which he hasn't seen since his less sophisticated youth, before becoming an edgy writer.

Along the way, he explores many of the wacky and creative versions of yoga in the United States, including an overly severe vegan style in New York, and yoga rave music. He settles on a more traditional school, ashtanga, and eventually studies with a serious, renowned teacher overseas. His humor is often funniest, though, when it's turned on himself, including some silly but entertaining sessions with a chiropractor, problems with barfing, and the mandatory flatulence-at-yoga scene.

Pollack has a keen eye for the American yoga scene and understands well the different schools of yoga study and practice. We root for him as he stumbles on his enlightenment road, although he never seems to recognize that doing marijuana through a vaporizer is probably not auspicious practice. Namaste, Neal.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad May 13, 2011
I picked this up while waiting for my wife to finish her yoga class and non-yoga me was dying of boredom amidst the fuppery. It definitely made the time go faster and more enjoyably. It's funny, but not laugh-out-loud funny, and it's well-written, but not exemplary. I'd give it 3.5 stars but since you can't do that, 4 is fairer since 3 seems to be panning it. I guess I can't relate because pot does not plug my wound. It made me think about a book called Muscle by a guy named Fussell (unlikely as that may seem), it's in a similar vein of high dive into the deep end of a niche activity, but Muscle was completely riveting, even with even less ability on my part to relate. If you're going to pick up one of these, go for Muscle, unless you have an interest in the world of yoga.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! February 24, 2011
I got into yoga about six years ago at the gym where I was a member. I loved it. It was fantastic. Being a soccer player all my life, yoga was a great alternative and made me feel better, and made me a better soccer player. The classes were difficult at first, but I continued and persevered. As the class progressed I got better and challenged myself. Then the class changed. It turned more into a beginner class that was like Groundhog Day. Each class was full of beginners and we did the same things over and over and nothing seemed to progress. Then my life changed. My wife and I started a family, I quit the gym, and basically lost all my free time. I abandoned yoga.

Lately I had been looking to get back into yoga. I never felt better than when I was practicing 3-4 days a week. I found a studio near my house that was reasonably priced and I checked it out. I immediately loved the community, but I couldn't figure out how to reconcile all the new age aspects of the studio. I wasn't into chanting, veganism, or all-encompassing peace. The peace part is nice, but I'm too busy to give that my full attention. From my first class at the new studio I was hooked again. I love yoga. But I didn't know what to do with the other stuff that the studio preached. Then one day I was recommended Stretch by Neal Pollack. This book is fantastic. The humor is wonderful, the irreverence it perfect, and the overall story is inspiring. I didn't need this book to help me reconcile my thoughts about my new yoga community, but it was wonderful to hear someone else basically talk about my same thoughts and feelings. Yoga is wonderful, but there are aspects of it that have been taken over by the odd and overly commercial villains in this world. Mr.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful book. Very informative
Published 4 months ago by VICTORIA HOFFMAN
5.0 out of 5 stars So funny, couldn't stop laughing out loud!
This is one of the funniest books I read in a long time! I laughed out loud several times in public while reading it! Neal's journey into yoga is inspirational. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Rita Domingues
5.0 out of 5 stars Just read it.
A great, great read. Helped me understand a bit more what my boyfriend's yoga experience is like. (Read: lots of farting)
Published 5 months ago by morganmo
5.0 out of 5 stars Humorous Primer for Yoga for Dudes, by a Dude
Neal Pollack was mostly known for his sardonic, goofy fiction and journalism back in the day (late 90s, early aughts) - and maintains his trademark snark and cynical touch for his... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Christopher T. Mercier
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Funny... great book. I recommend it. I was new to yoga and loved it... and the humor. I have read all of Neal's yoga books... liked them all.
Published 12 months ago by online mom
4.0 out of 5 stars He's fun. They're too serious.
What happens when a fun guy spends lots of time in a really serious world? These yoga types spend a lot of time being serious. Is that really necessary? Read more
Published 12 months ago by C. A. Moulton
3.0 out of 5 stars A funny story
It's a funny story. Be prepared for lots of adolescent humor, though, and lots of tales of his slacker-ness (his wife must be a saint). So you've been warned. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Debnance at Readerbuzz
1.0 out of 5 stars The Cynical Yoga Dude would be a better title.
The author is cynical. Seemed more interested in yoga than his marriage. I would not suggest it for serious readers or people thinking about learning more about yoga.
Published 13 months ago by Maid in NM
4.0 out of 5 stars fun, well written
I've been teaching for 20 years and appreciate the broad overview Neal has given. It was a totally fun read.
Published 16 months ago by EZ
4.0 out of 5 stars A light-hearted read for anyone interested in yoga
If a person like Neal Pollack can benefit from yoga, then anybody can benefit from yoga. This is the basic message Mr. Pollack conveys in this book. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Carl_in_Richland
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More About the Author

Neal Pollack (born March 1, 1970) is an American satirist, novelist, short story writer, and journalist. He lives in Austin, Texas. Pollack has written eight books: The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature, Never Mind the Pollacks, Beneath the Axis of Evil, Alternadad, Stretch, Jewball, Downward-Facing Death, and Open Your Heart.

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