May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga, and Changing My Mind

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Overview

In the candid, contemplative memoir May I Be Happy, revered yoga teacher Cyndi Lee gives readers an unforgettable gift: the ability to focus on our experiences as we have them, on the way to a lighter life.

For all her wisdom as a teacher, Cyndi Lee—founder of New York’s world renowned OM yoga Center—understood intuitively that she still had a lot to learn. In spite of her success in physically demanding professions—dancer, choreographer, and ...

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May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga, and Changing My Mind

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Overview

In the candid, contemplative memoir May I Be Happy, revered yoga teacher Cyndi Lee gives readers an unforgettable gift: the ability to focus on our experiences as we have them, on the way to a lighter life.

For all her wisdom as a teacher, Cyndi Lee—founder of New York’s world renowned OM yoga Center—understood intuitively that she still had a lot to learn. In spite of her success in physically demanding professions—dancer, choreographer, and yoga teacher—Lee was caught in a lifelong cycle of repetitive self-judgment about her body. Instead of the radical contentment expected in international yoga teachers, she realized that hating her body was a form of suffering, which was infecting her closest relationships—including her relationship to herself.

Inspired by the honesty and vulnerability of her students, Lee embarked on a journey of self-discovery that led her outward—from the sacred sites of the parched Indian countryside to the center of the 2011 earthquake in Japan—and inward, to seek the counsel of wise women, friends and strangers both. Applying the ancient Buddhist practice of loving-kindness meditation to herself, Lee learned that compassion is the only antidote to hatred, thereby healing her heart and changing her mind.

With prose as agile as the yoga sequences she creates, May I Be Happy gives voice to Lee’s belief that every life arises, abides, and ultimately dissolves. By becoming her own best student, Lee internalizes the strength, stability, and clarity she imparts in her Buddhist-inspired yoga classes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Renowned yoga instructor Lee (Yoga Body, Buddha Mind) juxtaposes her expertise in mindfulness and fitness with her lifelong hatred of her body. Instantly relatable to almost every woman, Lee’s journey reels readers in. Though she danced and choreographed with Cyndi Lauper in the 1980s, she writes, “I just felt like an un-cool person with a wrong-shaped body.” In the present, Lee struggles about letting her hair go gray and feels empowered when she goes for it. With skill, Lee weaves together the story of her personal hardships—her dying mother, her marriage heartbreak—with yogic wisdom and sage advice from experts, gurus, and friends (including Jamie Lee Curtis). Determined to stop feeling bad about herself, she has several breakthroughs, one while she teaches yoga in Japan during the recent devastating earthquakes and tsunamis. Yogis will devour the insightful dharma talks, but the book transcends its New Age genre. Lee takes the familiar body image subject and makes it fresh—and better yet—manageable. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Despite international renown as a Buddhist-inspired yoga teacher, Lee (Yoga Body, Buddha Mind) experiences suffering just as we all do. In this heartfelt memoir, she reflects on hating her body—an all too common problem. Lee examines how her dance career, her relationship with her mother, and other life events affected her body image and in turn how it impacted her marriage. Honestly, and at times provocatively, she describes her journey toward remembering her basic goodness and finding contentment with her physical appearance. Woven into the narrative are first-person vignettes of Lee teaching her students. Her style is a beautifully accessible blend of Buddhist mindfulness practices and yoga asana. Guided by wise women (actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Christiane Northrup, self-help guru Louise Hay, various Buddhist teachers, friends, and herself), Lee remembers the truth: that we are all perfect and there is nothing wrong with us.

Verdict Lee’s writing matches her teaching style: patient, melodic, and straightforward. Yoga students of all levels and abilities will learn from the simple, profound lessons in this book.—Julia A. Watson, Marywood Univ. Lib., Scranton, PA

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
A yoga expert charts her path to centered serenity. From the opening pages of her memoir, the founder of Manhattan's renowned OM yoga center is outspokenly quick to correct misconceptions about yoga instructors, who are assumed to be "always chill and never grumpy." Lee's (Yoga Body, Buddha Mind, 2004, etc.) life has been a mix of long-sought-after wellness and the trials of caring for an increasingly frail mother fraught with a merciless diagnosis of Lewy body disease, "which presents as a cruel combination of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's." She reminisces about an upbringing greatly influenced by her father, a Protestant minister, and momentous visits from Gloria Steinem at her high school in the 1960s. Dancing and a steady interest in yoga buoyed Lee through an obsession with her physical image, which bloomed into a dogged "body grudge" and chronic low self-esteem that plagued her into adulthood. Several trips to India helped her comprehend that it wasn't her body being "the real troublemaker," but her mindset. Lee beautifully describes the yin and yang of an all-encompassing yogic lifestyle. Sprinkled throughout are short (but sweetly sage) anecdotes from the veteran yoga instructor's classes. The author writes that her beloved mother's firm direction on "how to be ladylike and strong at the same time" still resonates with her today and pretty much sums up the tone of this distinctively Zen autobiography. A reassuring treat for the yoga set and inspiration for flexible newcomers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525953845
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/24/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,437,168
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Cyndi Lee is the founder of New York City’s OM yoga center and provides OM yoga teacher training worldwide. A regular columnist for Yoga Journal, she lives in Columbus, Ohio.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 16, 2013

    Nowadays, yoga is everywhere. Many different types with sometime

    Nowadays, yoga is everywhere. Many different types with sometimes many difficult philosophies. Because this discipline is new to us, we tend to make gurus out of the teachers that introduce us and guide us through. Unfortunately, yoga teachers are subject to be placed on pedestals and are expected to rise above the everyday things that affect most of us.




    Cyndi Lee, a yoga teacher with worldwide acclaim, has written a refreshing memoir mostly about her changing relationship with her body and her inner self as she gets older. She tells of her history as a dancer, choreographer, and famous yoga teacher who is still insecure about her body despite continuing outside validation. Unlike other books that chronicle yoga as a way to combat body image issues, May I Be Happy pulls the veil back on our perception of perfection to show that it isn't as easy as just striking a pose. This isn't a self-help book, but one woman's story about acceptance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2013

    Maylee

    Name: Maylee. Gender: O.o *looks at name and takes guess* Age: 11. Ethnicity: mother from London, father from Tokyo. Appearance: long dark brown hair, naturally tanned skin, almond shaped brown eyes. Clothing and acessories: Summer casual- A black one-strap tank top with camo shorts and tan faux-leather sandals. Her hair is in a ponytail. Winter casual: a blue turtleneck with black jeans and black leather heeled shoes. Her hair is brushed over her shoulders. Spring/fall casual- A black over-the-shoulder gauzy top with neon green tiger stripes a neon green tank top black leggings and black converse. Her hair is up in a high high(that high) ponytail. Dress/formal- a silver dress with white tights and silver Mary Janes. Her hair is softly waved. To wrap this up, wombats poop cubes. Yes, cubes. Like the ones in Minecraft.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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