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Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  683 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
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.
ebook, 336 pages
Published August 10th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books
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Scott Collins
Neal Pollack calls himself a comic writer. Which sounds better than "fitfully amusing lightweight writer," although that's probably closer to the truth. There are hardly any chuckles here, and even few smiles, given the subject and its potential (whether you practice yoga or not, there IS something funny about contorting yourself into odd shapes in a warm, dark room with a bunch of strangers). But the book moves along agreeably enough, as the 40-something author (a sometime McSweeney's contribut ...more
Mar 21, 2013 Damon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was... It wasn't bad? But it... just wasn't that good. Pollack seems like a dick, which is sort of the point. But, between reveling in being a dick, and talking about how yoga made him less of a dick, it seemed like there should be... a book, of some kind?

Mostly, this is a general chronological list of things that happened, mostly related to yoga. I think it's maybe meant to show a ... progression? Spiritual development and growth, a life enhanced by the practice? But mostly, it seems like
Oct 18, 2010 G rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude is a sautéed mixture of booze, bitterness, balding hairlines, and the fat and aging body of a failed punk rocker/writer. Neal Pollack has simmered his story with pop culture, marijuana, family and various yoga tales to make a beautiful, flavorful, hot and luscious tale of one man’s pursuit of happiness. I’m no punk rocker (but oh, how I love the music!) or yoga geek, but I am an aging, balding (due to Hypothyroidism, not that you could tell) and slight ...more
Jan 27, 2012 Pam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although there WERE times here that I laughed...AND LAUGHED out loud, and I liked his review of much of yoga, I got quite tired of Neal Pollack being 'witty' and I just did not 'groove' onto his drug habit. I actually didn't like the guy although I gather he's likable. I guess you have to know him to like him.

Yoga-wise, however, I liked the book enough. At first i thought I recommend it as a 'good read' but knowing my reading friends as I do...nah. Just one of my goofy, curious eBook choices fr
Feb 13, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yoga-memoir
I enjoyed the book far more than I thought I would. The book is a quick, engrossing read. Although I've had the book since November, I just started reading it because I wasn't sure I'd like it. So many of the reviews on Amazon wrote things that made it unappealing. However, once I started reading it, I found I couldn't put it down easily. It kept me up too late several nights in a row, making me a tired worker bee for several days.

This is a yoga memoir, and it's a funny one. I will always pick f
Jul 18, 2011 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious and unexpectedly moving book about a self-described "doughy 35ish white man" with skinny arms and a huge dose of self-pity named Neal Pollack -- he of a few momentarily fame-lofted books in the 20-aughts -- and his somewhat accidental stumbling into practicing yoga and finding a better place in his life. It's not really a memoir, not really a self-help book, most definitely NOT a how-to book on yoga practice, and there are a few too many excursions into chapters that read like padded v ...more
Sep 10, 2010 Flissy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yogis
Recommended to Flissy by: YogaDork
Shelves: 2010
OK, I confess, I totally was in tears laughing about Neal Pollack farting in yoga. I think I was expecting the whole book to be that hilarious (uh.. am I secretly a 12 year old boy?) but it turns out to be not only a very funny account of Pollack's own yoga experience, but also a very thoughtful and accurate account of contemporary yoga culture peppered with highlights in yoga history and philosophy. Highly recommended reading for yoga scenesters.
My hit or miss practice of yoga enhances my life and gives me a "value-added" quality of life. So this title intrigued me. The book chronicles seven years in the life of Pollack, from his first yoga class to the point when he is actually teaching a class himself. In the meantime, he literally travels the world to try out different classes and practices. The voice of the book sometimes was annoying since the author is a knob (which he freely admits). But I was glad I stuck with it because some ve ...more
Oct 19, 2011 Lynn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ibooks
I picked this up as a 99-cent eBook, so I figured I didn't have much to lose. Overall it's an enjoyable, light read, and I appreciated the author's point-of-view. I don't practice yoga but it intrigues me, certain aspects of it seem quite worthwhile but I feel like there's a lot of wacky stuff there too. The author makes a point to try to wade through the strange to find the gems of wisdom that are most relevant to him.

Starting off, it was hard to care about the author because his recap of his
Jun 05, 2011 Kay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neal Pollack and I don't speak the same language. He's a forty-year-old, baseball loving pothead and I'm a twenty something, bookish vegan. This made Stretch an odd read for me. (I don't think I understood more than one of his references. The one I did get referred to a Beck song. Mellow Gold is bridging the generation gap!) However, we share a love of yoga, and Pollack provides a great intro to yoga culture in the West.

This isn't a how-to guide or a self help book, making it valuable for new an
Apr 06, 2011 Melody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
What an odd little book this is! Pollack is one of the ironically detached McSweeney's era writers, and it's really something to watch him struggle with his hipness and try to express some deep spiritual awakening. Ultimately, the ironic hipster dude gets the upper hand, and one's left wondering about what the transformation from stoner non-yoga guy to stoner yoga guy actually felt like. There aren't many clues here, just the evidence that his life is drastically different at the end, and not ju ...more
Feb 25, 2011 Anthony rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A decent read if you're a dude who is kinda into yoga. Laugh out loud funny in some parts but very whiny and long-winded in others. Somehow it balances out to a fairly enjoyable read that isn't going to blow yr. mind but is worth the effort. OK, effort is the wrong word. The literary equivalent of an affordable slice of vegetarian pizza.
Aug 05, 2011 Rainey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is hilarious and educational at the same time. I think its becoming a favourite. I am halfway done but had to write a comment. I was so sad when the book was over. I wanted more.

Great Read.
Hilarious memoir, a fun read for all yogis!
Aug 09, 2010 Katie rated it really liked it
If you are curious why I get up at the crack of ass to practice yoga, this book explains my reasons without too much of the woo woo talk.
Daniel Wise
Jul 09, 2015 Daniel Wise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just hilarious. I likely would never have gone to Yoga teacher training had I not read this book.
So nice to see someone poke fun of modern yoga culture, yet still come away with some benefit.
Neal Pollack is a yoga dude. He keeps telling us so. He took a lot of yoga classes in California - often when stoned, which made me wonder, can a person really do that? He's also a funny man; he keeps telling us that, too. He covered yoga events for "Yoga Journal", crowing because it meant he could get into events for free.

"Who the fuck does that teacher think she is?" he shouts, as he storms out of class shouting because he disliked her talk on vegetarian eating. He says often how hairy, smelly
It's winter and wimpy me is not in the least interested in riding my bicycle to work. As this is virtually my only exercise, I thought I would take a yoga class. But this would have entailed the further irritation of lactation complications and so I did what I always do. I got books about it, instead.

I was looking for a home study course, but I noticed Pollack's memoir as well. I'd read Alternadad when I was pregnant (or thinking about it) and I really liked this mess of a man who went around in
I enjoyed this book tremdously. Neal Pollack starts as a self-indulgent jerk and then starts on a road to developing his best self. Somewhere along the line he describes his yoga journey in a few words to a friend, and as a short blurb it sounds sort of lame. But it is a really earnest journey to change and open himself up through yoga. God this sounds hippy dippy already, but I swear it's better than that. He starts as a fat slob and now he teaches yoga! And he's funny!

I think this is a really
Dec 31, 2010 Hollowspine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Although I hadn't read Pollack's previous novels I recognized him as a McSweeny's alum and with that knowledge knew that this was the kind of memoir I would appreciate. That coupled with the fact that I knew next to nothing about yoga made this a very interesting read for me. I come away from it with a new respect for yoga, which I had assumed was nothing more than an exercise regiment for people who liked eastern inspired motivational posters.

Reading this book I both deepened my knowledge and m
Sep 19, 2010 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yoga, humor, memoirs
Cynical hipster humor writer Pollack was one of the original McSweeney's crew and the author of the high-concept early-2000s book The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature: The Collected Writings of Neal Pollack. Angry, bratty, and "doughy," he ends up sort of accidentally falling in love with yoga during an early midlife crisis (he was 35)... only to really, truly get a lot out of it! This is his story. It's honest, accessible, and even (dare I say it?) tender at times. It's also self-d ...more
Sara Habein
Jul 03, 2011 Sara Habein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Pollack details his yogic journey from skepticism to borderline evangelism with a great sense of humor, and like the best "sport" memoirs do, he makes it interesting to a person who has no idea what asanas are.

He finds himself searching for the right kind of practice and right kind of teacher that best suit his personality. For one thing, Pollack's still a stoner and a bit of pessimist, so anything too touchy-feely, straight edge, or activist has him rolling up his mat and searching elsewhere. S
Oct 15, 2010 Joemmama rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neal Pollack was a bad boy L.A. writer who was on a path of self destruction. Drinking too much, after a little success, spreading insults, generally misbehaving, he alienated his friends and colleagues. He was willing to try almost anything to get his life back on track. Enter Yoga-

Out of shape, and not really motivated yet, Neal struggled as he tried to master the positions. To his great surprise, he actually felt better. He took more and more classes, becoming rather fanatical about his new a
May 13, 2013 Carmen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memior, vacation, yoga
This book had such potential, but Neal Pollack is a fairly unlikable guy. He knows this and tells you straight up, but I still thought there would be something redeemable after making it through the whole book. He seems to be on a quest for self improvement, but every conversation with his wife is a declaration of what he plans to do with or without her (which I found kind of gross). In addition, he spends 80% of the book telling you how broke his family is and how he's trying to get yoga classe ...more
Will Cowen
While engaging to read, there comes a point toward the end where Pollack tips his hand in such a way that paints the entire book as an artifact of the same yoga culture he critiques -- a cynical yoga product to make another yoga buck. That may be more or less the meta-joke behind this often hilarious and fun book.

However, I'm not sure that level of cynicism was the intent, as the author makes a few seemingly genuine attempts to present the story as an arc wherein yoga helps him find something he
Morninglight Mama
Jan 16, 2016 Morninglight Mama rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
Sorry, Neal. In the opening pages, you had me laughing, and I pictured you as a guy that would fit right in with my group of couple/parent friends. The beginning of the book was balanced between personal introspection and relatable interactions with your wife, and an interesting pursuit of a "better you" through yoga. But... as I kept going, I laughed much less and began to edge you out of my group of friends, because as you apparently felt you were going deeper and becoming more introspective, ...more
Kirsty (alkalinekiwi)
Jun 09, 2013 Kirsty (alkalinekiwi) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of quirky non-fiction
I picked this up from a book exchange somewhere as it looked entertaining and yoga is one of those things I have always considered doing but since I can't fold my legs to sit on the floor properly I figured it was out of my reach.

At the start of the book I didn't think much of the author (though even he admits this) so reading about his transformation through yoga was encouraging and entertaining. By the end I was cheering him on, wondering how his first yoga class as a teacher would go and sin
Dec 07, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tried to read this several years ago and gave up after the first few pages. "This Neal Pollack is a cynical smartass. I'm done."

Says the cynical smartass.

Fast forward a few years and a mention of the book on a yoga blog. I gave it another shot and am very glad I did. Pollack is a smartass, but he's got as least as much heart as cynicism and he's a good writer. And he's funny, sometimes funny as hell. His journey from "doughy" to yogi, writing for Yoga Journal, and beginning to teach yoga was
Apr 26, 2011 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with this book within the first thirty pages. From his first classes with teachers that obviously shouldn't have been teaching, to his absolutely unrelenting descriptions of his struggles and insecurities I was totally drawn in. I loved seeing how someone so cynical and grumpy could grow so much from a yoga practice, and Pollack does a lovely job of describing his own growth without being high and mighty. To me, yoga is a highly sacred thing, and this book describes that. It also ...more
George Ilsley
I have no idea who this guy is, or was, or why anyone cares. He is certainly annoying, but somewhat redeems himself by emphasizing how annoying he can be. I can't imagine how his wife puts up with him (unless she is a comparable piece of work, which he generously avoids detailing). In terms of yoga content? I was often confused by the sanskrit. If he says chattaronga, what do you envisage? At times the book seemed addressed to those who know a lot about yoga -- or at least made a pretense of doi ...more
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Neal Pollack’s first book, The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature, was published in 2000, becoming an (almost) instant cult classic. His debut novel, Never Mind the Pollacks, hit shelves in 2003, and was shamelessly promoted by his band, The Neal Pollack Invasion. In 2007, he published Alternadad, a best-selling memoir. In 2010, Pollack became a certified yoga teacher and published Stre ...more
More about Neal Pollack...

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“That sounded a lot more appetizing than my aging cynicism, complete lack of interest in others, and lifetime of enthusiastic immersion in a culture that encourages you to look out for number one. Clearly, my best self was miles down the road.” 0 likes
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