A memoir to cherish

June 2017

By Punya Srivastava

The Head That Won’t
Stand: A Woman’s Journey
of Letting Go with Yoga
By Kavita Chandran
Wisdom Tree
` 245, pages 186

A bunch of women with diverse backgrounds come together to learn yoga under a gentle yet strict teacher in a quaint little town of South India. What follows are life lessons that each one of them is meant to go through. Written in first person by Kavita Chandran, editor and publisher of Yoga Journal Singapore, this memoir is a sweet little tale of the author’s journey _ from being stuck in a personal tragedy, to finding her centre of gravity by acquainting herself with various yogasanas. On the periphery run the stories of her yogamates _ Ciara, Veronica, Sonika, Jane, Elsie, Hanna, Dewy, Maria, Marie, Vijaya, Jun, Eden and Phyllis. Each woman a universe in her own, carrying the bundle of her past pains and anxieties, while learning to offload them on her yoga mat.

Written lucidly, the chapters alternate between narrating their past and describing their lighthearted shenanigans in the yoga sessions. The story of a month long stay in a yogshala, defined by discipline and dedication, when sprinkled with snatches of personal experiences make an interesting read. The camaraderie between these women, their interaction with their teacher, the lessons they learn, and their days in the retreat _ everything comes
together breezily. However The best parts of the book, in my view, are those where the ambience of the yogshala is described. It is always a treat to read about an idyllic retreat where life paces down a bit and gives you the scope of biting into its juicy texture.

There is a beautiful anecdote of the author’s tryst with a solitary twilight which brings along a tantalising breeze that travels within her and opens her heart. She starts humming like she used to as a high schooler and in no time, is singing to herself and to the swaying trees around her. This made me close my eyes and picture myself in a similar setting. Such is the power of solitude, the magnetic pull of feeling one with the creation, that it inevitably makes one drop one's guard and swim in the gushing river of tranquility. This yoga memoir is littered with many such anecdotes that leave you with an intense longing to find yourself by slowing down and uncluttering your life. The brightly designed cover and breezy layout beckon you to pick up the book. Written in a fictional style, Kavita Chandran’s memoir is a light hearted
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