I t should come as not surprise to yogis that Leonardo da Vinci made a habit of writing and walking backwards. If you’ve spent any time in head or handstand you know how yoga’s inversions are designed to stimulate elaborate reversals, to flip the world on its ear. Such adventures of life lived upside-down are part and parcel of the yogic quest, and if you asked yoga teacher and author Brian Leaf, he’d tell you that there’s no better way to gaining a backstage pass to your own psychophysical matrix than by getting in a van and driving across the country on an extended road trip. His book Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi chronicles his attempt to get off the known path, to sleep in the back of a van like a beat poet or itinerant, to bring life back to the bare essentials, making his existence itself one grand psycho-spiritual experiment.
Leaf’s book is a memoir of one man’s yoga experiments that invariably result in a host of absurd experiences. Uplifting and occasionally humiliating, the book is a comical and lighthearted marriage of the ridiculous and sublime that's a perfect fit for a Hollywood script. But as I found out in a conversation with Leaf, what preoccupies him in this landscape of the adventure chronicle is the role of yoga in developing intuition...that rapid fire cognition that Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking... that knowing that comes on so quickly that you can’t quite justify it in common sense terms. In Brian’s words, intuition is the point of yoga, the very thing he was searching for in his psycho-spiritual experiments...
I knew I loved yoga so I went on this cross-country road trip to explore more styles of yoga mostly because that was right after Amrit Desai had been asked to leave Kripalu, and having been a student of Kripalu, I was really devastated. So I went on this trip to find other styles of yoga. And so I would do all of these programs and I'd go to ashrams and retreats and just always kind of searching. And so it turned out to be a big, long adventure. - Brian Leaf
|Brian Leaf on the road|