In the candid and inspiring memoir, Dancing in the Bamboo Forest, yoga teacher Djahariah Mitra takes the reader on an adventurous journey through South Indian temples, ashrams, beaches, and night clubs. She explores vast cultural differences, obstacles to traveling as a woman alone, and her own internal journey to self-acceptance. Mitra exposes the loneliness of travel while at the same time encountering fascinating people who bring friendship, eye opening revelations, and a love that rocks her heart. She analyzes her experiences from emotionally crushing obstacles to the easy openness of strangers through the perspective of yogic philosophy.
After deepening her yoga practice with her first teacher training ten years ago, Mitra has strived to be ever a student — a student of life, of yogic philosophy, and herself. She humbly shows her own foibles as well as little triumphs along the path and shares how yoga helped her grow out of a debilitating depression. She offers practical and simple (although not easy) ways to help ourselves find balance and strive to walk in peace. She shares yogic philosophy effortlessly, entwining it in stories along the way.
For example, she discusses the concept of non-harming while buying a plug in contraption to kill mosquitoes. She talks about her decision to lie on occasion as a means to protect herself as a woman alone. She shares her struggle between wanting to follow the yogic path but not wanting to become a monk and choosing which aspects of the practice to follow. She candidly reveals her mistakes or her falling from the path and how falling, stumbling, or slipping doesn’t need to stop us from continuing to climb the mountain.
Writing with a fearless and open heart, Djahariah Mitra allows us into her intimate thoughts and feelings in a way that is truly relatable. Travelers will smile at common experiences, yogis will relish philosophical discussions, and anyone who has been in love will recognize the roller coaster of emotions she jumps into. Everyone will take something away from this book; it inspires thought and satisfies with delicious descriptions of a far off land.
“Mitra’s lyrical mix of devotion and critical analysis is truly revelatory...The fact that Mitra is able to overcome her obstacles is truly uplifting and makes for an inspirational journey. A compelling travelogue that earnestly maps a traveler’s heart and soul. —Kirkus Reviews