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Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness
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Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  603 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
As a college freshman business major suffering from a variety of anxiety-related maladies, Brian Leaf stumbled into an elective: yoga. It was 1989. All his classmates were female. And men did not yet generally “cry, hug, or do yoga.” But yoga soothed and calmed Leaf as nothing else had. As his hilarious and wise tale shows, Leaf embarked on a quest for health and happiness ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by New World Library (first published September 26th 2012)
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Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: yoga enthusiasts
Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi is organized loosely around Brian’s “Eight Keys to Happiness.” Normally, this sort of thing would cause me to toss a book straight into the recycling bin. I generally dislike pop-psychology or self-help lists — e.g. “Five Keys to Success,” “Ten Steps to a Healthier You,” etc. — as they tend to be unhelpful and unrealistic quick-fixes to very real problems. But in the case of Brian Leaf’s book, his “Eight Keys to Happiness” are not only very reasonable; they a ...more
Nicole *{Lady Aribeth}*

I feel bad giving this book 2 stars. Probably because it is a memoir, and why should I be allowed to judge a person's experiences? However, since I'm giving the writing and the organization of the book 2 stars, rather than Brian's journey, I think it'll be okay. I'm glad that yoga helped calm his ADD, but this book simply made mine flare up. The book jumps around too much, with Leaf trying to talk about the past and present all in one page. It made me feel like I was constantly missing someth
Callie Di Nello
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Rare, I find, are books that make you laugh out load all the way through, coupled with awareness-awakening gems and insights. Recently, however, I had the very great pleasure of receiving a review copy of the Brian Leaf's new book 'Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi' which is published today, Monday 15th October 2012.

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1842

Brian's commentary is what really makes this book such a joy to read: his eloquent
Frank Jude
Oct 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, meditation, yoga
I'll be writing a fuller review of this book on my blog, but just wanted to record it here as I've just finished it today. This is another of the relatively recent genre of yoga memoirs, and it's perhaps one of the more humorous. Brian Leaf shares his story with whimsy and self-deprecating good humor. At times I sense a bit of the neurotic Woody Allan mashed up with the acerbic Colbert.

Leaf has also attempted to make this memoir a teaching and that has its pros and cons. At times, perhaps, he a
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you are a yoga teacher you will love love love this book
If you are a yoga student you will totally enjoy it and laugh hard.
If you have never done any yoga you will either get yourself to a class and find out what this is all about for yourself or you will quit reading mid way and shake your head and mutter, "That is one weird guy."
Anita Smith
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this book very much. As someone who has been to Kripalu and tries "too hard" to be zen and yogini-like at times, this was a lovely refresher to know I'm not alone and other hippie-wannabes go through the same thing! The only thing that kind of irked me- or maybe I was just jealous- was that the author just had the means to float around, travel, enroll in this institute and that yoga training, rent apartments and rooms wherever he felt like it, enroll in retreats on a whim, did not work c ...more
Samantha Wilde
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brian Leaf is an incredible person, and since I actually know him I can say that and mean it! This book is heartfelt, humorous, thought-provoking, the very best a yoga memoir can be. I have recommended it to all my yoga students. It shares the beauty of the Kripalu tradition and with humility and hilarity, Brian offers spiritual wisdom from an all too human life. I am grateful to know Brian and to have had such a good read! Memoir isn't easy (I stick with fiction for now), but he does it just ri ...more
Heather Arnold
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a great concept and I genuinely enjoyed reading this book. It kind of fell flat near the end for me. Ended kind of randomly too. I like some of his quirky experiences and funny stories. He definitely seems to have a lot of discipline to follow his lifestyle. He seems very fortunate to be able to support his many travels and retreats to kripalu, which seems somewhat unattainable to the average person -- could be viewed as a positive or negative.
Rachel Jaffe
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, kindle
Just a charming book. Sitting with a friend, hearing about his experiences and life and travels. It was very personal - why yoga/ayurvedic worked for him. If you want to be convinced to do yoga, there's not really rigorous research to convince you. But if you want to know why someone - this particular someone - does, it's there.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How fun! This was enjoyable in a humorous way, and yet was a great introduction to many kinds of yoga and different aspects of yoga. I was entertained by the author and I really cared about him and his ventures.
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Somewhat humorous, somewhat entertaining, and somewhat insulting to people with ulcerative colitis or ADD. This book spews a bunch of pseudo science, holistic, woo-woo nonsense. A frustrating albeit slightly interesting read.
Leslie Stately
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just loved it. It's exactly what I needed at the right time. It's very relatable and encouraging. I'm already implementing some of Brian's suggestions so I can understand why I'm feeling what I'm feeling before reacting. Thanks!
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great memoir. Loved his voice and philosophy. Makes me want to get up to Kripalu sooner than later
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018-read
Not my jam. And I love all the hippy shit. I’m just a little over the white male perspective on things.
Nov 16, 2012 rated it liked it

I wasn't really into most of the memoir and it got a little strange for me in spots, so I admit that here and there I skimmed a few pages. It might have just been wrong time/place for me, I have a stack of juicy looking fantasy and science fiction here begging to be read and the ADHD is pointing me that way. Probably I should do some yoga and calm the heck down.

Even though I didn't really find myself happily adventuring along with Brian on his quest for enlightenment, there are some great insigh
Katlin M Hanlon
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of my favorite books I've read in the last few years. It is entertaining, educational and inspiring. It makes me want to do yoga, be more aware of myself in all things, and learn more about Ayurveda. I first read most of this book a few years ago when I first started getting into yoga. I really enjoyed it and reading it motivated me to do yoga more often and try other types of yoga. I don't remember why I didn't finish it before, but I started from the beginning and finally finished ...more
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
We find in this engaging autobiography that Brian Leaf learns to be "fearless, honest, and relaxed" during his quest for growth and self-discovery. As a result, he writes with that same winning formula; therefore, he presents himself as a reliable narrator--one who neither avoids embarrassing incidents, nor embellishes them to shock his audience. Instead, his memoir is often laugh-out-loud funny as he and his friend take their cross-country pilgrimage to find answers pertinent to their lives.

Britt Reints
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The first paragraph reads:

“There’s surely an uneven power dynamic between one person sitting naked on the toilet and the other hovering above in a dark suit. This is especially and egregiously true if the person sitting is pushing to no avail.”

This is not how you would expect a book about a man’s journey to discover inner peace through yoga to begin. But then, Brian really isn’t interested in what anyone expects. His goal is to be his most real self, and his most real self poops in doctor’s off
May 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: yoga
A decent read, marred by the inability of a book of such length to get into the scope of certain things (my question then becomes: why bother? As in the case of Ayurvedic types. The "questionnaire" consists of 6 three-answer questions. None of the options seem to particularly apply to me. This seems to be the least adequate method of determining your type possible. He might have been better served to simply say "find a good book on this, such as" rather than trying to sum up in two pages an enti ...more
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I like the alternative healing going on in this book. There remains a deep chasm in-between this readers' comprehension of Brian Leaf's quest and what his parents reeaally may have thought about their Georgetown University graduated son's trek down a path adjacent to the well-worn groove of more obvious success along the route he was to take following a win as a high school debate champ of New Jersey (likely arguing for the opportunity to seek his own bliss). But after all, the book is a story a ...more
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Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Most yoga books, in my experience, have been fairly serious affairs. This one has the sort of self-depricating humour of a Bill Bryson; but there's more good yoga advice in here than many more pedantic volumes.

It's the story of Brian Leaf, who suffered from ulerative colitis when young, which he cured with yoga. This made him a yoga devotee and he illustrates his path to becoming a yoga teacher - and math tutor.

A good part of the book is his story of a road trip across America in a van with a fr
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I thought this book was very real, honest, and funny. This guy Brian takes a yoga class in college and continues to pursue yoga, meditation, therapy and enlightenment in various ways which he shares with us in this memoir.
I like that it's not all "I started doing yoga, and now my life is amazing!" Instead he tries many different things, he quits yoga a few times, he has lots of crazy experiences, and he's still learning and practicing. This book shares some great advice that he has learned. The
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book!!
Danielle Berg
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved this book, finished it in a day. I'm biased, because I have so much in common with the author at the beginning of his journey - but then again, I think most people do. Digestively awry, anxious, looking to every one as a potential teacher: Are YOU my guru?

Sure it's about yoga and a spiritual journey, and sure there are lots of books about that, and the standard of good writing usually takes a back seat to the profundity of the content - but this book is one of the good ones. Brian Leaf is
Michael Blackmore
A surprisingly fun and relatively light read after the series of more ponderous and self important yoga autobiographies that I had been though lately.

On the plus side it is fun and relatively light and even at times thoughtful. There was sometimes a feeling that he breezed over somethings and neglected others to keep a more upbeat tone. Which I think was shame because life is more often a mix of light and dark - and too often stories of peoples' lives get told through one prism or another rather
Diane Sparks
May 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Eh. I thought I would enjoy this book a lot more--overachieving pre-law student with a gastro issue turned yogi seemed right up my alley. There was a lot of good insight on the yogic front and a couple "a-ha" moments. But Brian's constant need to include pithy pop-culture references (most often to Seinfeld) was distracting. When I got to the part where a good friend hurts him by revealing the truth that he tries too hard to entertain and make people like him, it suddenly clicked that this was my ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Hilarious yet helpful at the same time. If you do yoga and have some serious stress in your life, Brian Leaf is your guy. The fact that he's from Jersey is just a bonus :) The advice peppered throughout his "misadventures" was a welcome respite from some other self-help books in the sense that he's a real person, telling you how it is and how it was for him. Wherever you are in your yoga practice, I would highly recommend this book. Makes me want to book a trip to Kripalu even more so than I did ...more
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
This was a fun, entertaining read. Highlight: hilarious cringe-worthy scenes. Loved the TMI.

I would have given this more stars, but found it hard to buy into the author's seven "keys to happiness" given he spent the whole book wandering around, searching for purpose and lasting human connections (happiness, right?). I wanted more at the end about how the keys to happiness led to the author's sustained happiness! Maybe he'll write a sequel--I'd love to hear how he used "the keys" as a husband and
Jan 31, 2016 rated it liked it
A memoir with instructions and practices. This is a light read with a surprising amount of yoga information. Some of Leaf's experiences are extreme for the casual yoga practitioner. I like my comfort too much to consider the retreats and courses he undertook.

It is about yoga, especially Kripalu. He talks about doshas, Ayurveda medicine, meditation and diet. But it includes a massive road trip from New Jersey to California, which is the bulk of the book and fun to read. He encounters Phish fans,
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“Ten minutes of deep relaxation five times a day would change anyone's life, whether or not he or she suffered from colitis.” 0 likes
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