By Roseanne Harvey
I’ve always loved ascent magazine’s tagline: “yoga for an inspired life.” It captures the essence of the magazine, which for the past six years has been publishing articles that stretch beyond the limits of current perceptions of yoga and spirituality. It’s fitting that this collection is titled inspired lives: the best of real life yoga from ascent magazine.
Clea McDougall, former editor of ascent magazine, has selected the most relevant and engaged writing from the award-winning, Montreal-based publication. There are no asana sequences in inspired lives, no tips about how to find a good teacher or maintain a daily practice. What you will find in these pages are interviews with bell hooks, Yann Martel and George Feurstein, as well as personal essays about living with HIV, traveling in China and dying of cancer. All of the pieces explore the possibilities of yoga and spiritual life, and demonstrate how spirituality, activism, art, and contemporary thought can intersect in the world.
“The thing about true inspiration is that it isn’t all happiness and prettiness and ease,” writes McDougall in her introduction. “It can be chaotic and painful and not very pretty at all. But often out of that pain and mess comes the beautiful, real stuff of life.” After reading inspired lives, I’m increasingly aware that inspiration is not a brilliant blinding flash that strikes at random; like yoga, inspiration is present in every moment of our daily lives.
As a long-time reader of ascent magazine, I have encountered most of these pieces in their previous format. I am amazed at how fresh and current each piece in this collection remains in the book form. The stories complement and respond to each other, whether they were published in 1999, 2001 or 2004. Threads of beauty and integrity run through each issue of ascent magazine, and these threads are illuminated in this anthology. inspired lives is not only the best of ascent magazine—it’s an inspiring collection of the best spiritual writing being published in North America.
By simply reading the stories and articles in inspired lives, my own ordinary life becomes somehow inspired. I read the book in bits and pieces, and each time I put it down I’m challenged to find the inspiration in my life, to live my life with passion and be an active participant in the world around me.
inspired lives is available at fine bookstores everywhere, or you can order directly from timeless books: www.timeless.org 1-800-661-8711