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Interview & Book Giveaway: Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi

Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi

Note: The winners for this giveaway have already been chosen. Subscribe to Tiny Buddha for free daily or weekly emails and to learn about future giveaways!

The Winners:

Yoga, road trips, and personal stories that border on TMI—these are all things I enjoy, which might explain why I was drawn to Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi.

In this engaging self-help memoir, author and yoga teacher Brian Leaf shares his experiences healing Colitis and ADD through yoga.

Including anecdotes from a cross-country journey during which he tried many different studios, Brian provides a window into his spiritual journey and shares how he established his own personal formula for happiness.

Honest, entertaining, and insightful, Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi shares how one man healed himself from within and inspires us to access our own personal power.

I’m grateful that Brian took the time to answer some questions about himself and his book, and that he’s provided three copies for Tiny Buddha readers.

The Giveaway

To Enter:

  • Leave a comment on this post sharing one thing that made you smile today.
  • For an extra entry, tweet: RT @tinybuddha Book Giveaway: Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi – Comment and RT to win! http://bit.ly/XMFo9t

You can enter until midnight PST on Monday, February 4th.

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi?

A few years ago, I wrote fifteen pages of a meditation manual and showed it to my literary agent. He told me no one would buy it and fired me. So I did exactly what any yogi-meditator-writer would do; I collapsed to the floor and cried. And then I meditated.

During meditation, as my mind cleared and quieted, a funny story bubbled up, so I wrote it down. This went on for a year. Stories would bubble up and I would write them down. Eventually I had a book.

2. Yoga has certainly had a profound impact on your life, helping you heal physically, mentally, and emotionally. Did you initially realize (or did you doubt) that it could help you in the way it has?

I signed up for yoga as a goof when I was preregistering for classes at Georgetown University in 1993. I had no expectations. But after I showed up, I knew almost immediately. I felt like I had found my lost home.

3. You were able to heal your colitis through a disciplined practice involving five twenty-minute sessions per day. I know a lot of us struggle to consistently do the things that are most helpful for us. What helped you maintain that type of regularity?

I understand the struggle to do the things that are most helpful to us. I face this struggle every night as I choose between pranayama and potato chips after a long day of working and parenting. But, for some reason, doing yoga has always come easily to me.

Ever since that first class in college, I just like doing it. I think that’s the key, actually—to let go of expectations of which healing practices we should do, and to notice the healing practices that feel right and come easily for us. For me, this is yoga. For someone else it could be tai chi, mediation, swimming, chanting, psychotherapy, or hiking.

4. In the early pages, you list eight keys to happiness. Which one has been most powerful for you, and why?

When I reread my stories that had bubbled up, I saw patterns and themes and distinct periods in my own life. First I needed to heal my body with yoga. Then I needed to get out of my head and open the door to my heart. Then I needed to calm my mind and energy with Ayurveda and meditation. And, ultimately, I needed to become more fully myself, to live my dharma.

So there is no one key that is most powerful; they are each powerful in their right time.

5. One of your eight keys to happiness is to cultivate and follow your intuition. Why do you think so many of us struggle with this? 

We live in a time when we are taught not to follow our intuition. This trend started a few hundred years ago in response to the Church’s abuse of power. Individuals such as John Locke, Isaac Newton, and Voltaire favored reason over faith. They developed the scientific method. This was very useful, but it went too far.

This is the first time in history when people need to see a double blind scientific study before they will believe that breathing deeply feels good. Lately, though, I think we are seeing that the trend is turning back toward honoring intuition and inner wisdom.

6. Another one of your keys to happiness is “become most real,” which you’ve defined as becoming aware of what we are doing and feeling at all times. How does this help us, and how can we start making this a practice?

It helps us because when we are aware of what we are doing and feeling, we are identified not with the actions or with the passing feelings, but with our deeper self. The best way to practice is to ask yourself throughout the day, “What am I really feeling right now?”

7. Much of your book chronicles your adventures traveling, trying different yoga styles. What were the most powerful things you learned on the road—about yourself, about yoga, and about life?

I met a yogi at the Sivananda Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, California who really lived from his heart. Through him, I saw this for the first time as a viable way to live in the world.

8. During your road trip, you lived by the mantra “fearless, honest, relaxed.” Are there are mantras that you use regularly these days?

Yes. Right now, I use “Say ‘Yes’ to Reality.” I use this when I notice that I am tuning out part of reality. I find that when I can allow, rather than repress, the truth of reality, I feel most vibrant and alive.

So if I notice that I am feeling sad or angry and that I am trying to repress these feelings, I say, “Say ‘Yes’ to Reality” and I simply notice the truth. When, with loving kindness, I embrace the truth, I feel grace. 

9. What advice would you offer to someone who is dealing with physical or mental illness and is considering trying yoga?

Do it. Definitely. Don’t wait.

(Though be prepared to try a few styles. Finding the right style of yoga is like dating. You might have to try various classes before you find the one for you. There’s a spectrum, from power vinyasa, if you like a vigorous workout, to gentle restorative, if you prefer something much cushier.)

You can learn more about Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi on Amazon.


FTC Disclosure: I receive complimentary books for reviews and interviews on tinybuddha.com, but I am not compensated for writing or obligated to write anything specific. I am an Amazon affiliate, meaning I earn a percentage of all books purchased through the links I provide on this site. 

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Tiny Buddha Founder Lori Deschene is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook series and co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an eCourse that helps you change your life. She's now seeking stories for her next book, 365 Tiny Love Challenges from Tiny Buddha. Click here to share your story and follow on Facebook for inspiring posts and wisdom quotes.

Announcement: Want to share your story in the next Tiny Buddha book? Learn more here!
  • http://twitter.com/Davidalan82 David Alan

    I live in Myrtle Beach. I have to say no matter how bad a day. I go out to the ocean and I am lucky enough to work at an oceanfront hotel. I just see the ocean and it makes me smile everyday. So that makes me smile all the time. Just the beauty the feeling I get when I’m near the water. Makes me feel so good.

  • bettina_rae22

    My son as he does another naughty thing then smiles with cheeky knowing.

  • Odie

    My sister posted a picture of a bouquet of flowers on FB today – I was happy to see she received beautiful flowers from a loved one.

  • friend forever

    Sharing with my friends how I was truly feeling at a particular moment in time, made me smile. I was honest and I felt proud of myself :)

  • Lori

    A photo of my dog. It never fails.

  • Sarah

    Listening to my favourite song on the bus and everything looking so much more beautiful with that as a soundtrack :)

  • Lovie

    waking up to the sun shinning in my window and the breeze at my door =D

  • Gillian

    I had a really tough day yesterday and could feel anxiety taking hold. I did everything I could to turn it around with positive thoughts. This morning I felt like me again…that made me smile. x

  • Phil Bennett

    My boss complimenting me on how disciplined I am in everything I do in life.

  • Kristen

    After an overwhelming and anxiety-filled week of working full time and trying to maintain a full time graduate school courseload, an acquaintance told me that I she thought I was incredibly intelligent and one of the strongest, most excited, interesting people she’s met. Brought now only a smile, but tears, at the exact time I needed it.

  • dswood1

    Loved this post for many reasons, but first and foremost, the authors blog title got me interested. Thanks for sharing

  • Sarah

    My young son was dancing like a wild man to a reggae-rap version of Itsy Bitsy Spider. His complete abandonment to his own happiness was awesome to behold and inspiring. Still smiling as I write this.

  • Karmen

    While taking my kids to school today…in the midst of driving on very messy , snow-packed roads and an angry 6 yr old in the back seat, I was struck by how gorgeous the sky was… such a gorgeous shade of aqua with the moon still visible…. above the foothills of the Black Hills . :o) All else didn’t matter for the few moments I was able to just smile and see the beauty of the morning. :o)

  • Linda

    Seeing my husband and 5 year old son sleeping back to back; my husband squished up against the edge of the king sized bed and my son taking up the rest of the bed.

  • Jennifer

    My daughter singing her “Space Unicorns” song over and over in a variety of different accents. Gotta smile…..

  • Therese

    Woke up smiling today remembering how a friend and I manifested the opportunity to see a certain person – celebrity person!- the other night and without much effort. Literally we made a toast to the seeing the person and no more than 20 minutes later the celebrity walks by us!
    Just another sign as to how powerful our thoughts are when we cocreate with the Universe.
    Thanks Universe!

  • Lori

    The stunningly beautiful, blue Oklahoma sky made me smile this morning.

  • Iky

    Ok, well this is how it started… I’ve had a very negative state of mind this week which is not the norm… So today i thought “ok, let’s turn this around. I have the tools (mental tricks), the know how (information via books, retreats, web etc) and the experience (my own) to accept that i am the one limiting myself into this narrow frame of mind.” So today, after a whole week of feeling lost and low, i read through my TinyBuddha blogs, went out for a run, ate sensibly, and more importantly i gave myself a break by accepting that while i have allowed myself to shatter all over the bathroom floor, once again, i also have the glue to put myself, piece by piece, back together again. I am now whole (stuck together with glue.lol.). :-)

  • sunmoonstarsrain

    The sub-zero windchill in Chicago made me smile today…it made me think of growing up further north. One time, in my last winter up there before moving down to Chicago, it was so cold that my car wouldn’t start in the morning, and I started to lose the feeling in my fingers and hands. Because of the cold, the small city felt like it was completely deserted; it was completely still and silent. You could almost hear the perspiration from my breath crackling in the arctic air. *That* was a cold day. I love the earth, so I love all of the weather it provides. I love nature, and it made me smile today.

  • Jazzygurl21

    One employee at work this morning gave me a cinnamon bun. Than a bit later than someone had asked for assistance on the copier, being able to help with the little things made me smile as she was smiling after the fact that we were able to provide the workers in the field drawings they could read. :)

  • AngieMontreal

    Opening the door to a friendly electrician who installed a beautiful 220v electrical outlet, allowing me to finally have a washing machine in my own home…for the first time in 4 years! I have never before been so excited to do laundry!

  • Johnny Leavy

    Watching the children in my home eat breakfast. There is something wholly satisfying about watching my kids eat, and I thoroughly enjoy this time everyday. They smile, I smile….its just good for everyone.

  • http://twitter.com/fortycakes Karla

    Dropping my kids off at school this morning…..my husband usually gets to be the one to do it and I was so happy to be with them today.

  • Melissa

    Love

  • Gina Marie

    A classroom full of eager-to-learn 6th graders makes me smile every day. Today especially, because they’re learning about Buddhism! I’m thrilled to share such a rich tradition with them.

  • Johanna

    I have just begun my journey with meditation and am considering trying yoga. Already I have noticed benefits like a calmer mind. This is HUGE for me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lydia.moncrieff Lydia Sammarchi Moncrieff

    Going through a really stressful time right now – have moved to a new country with my husband and kids, leaving good friends and family behind. The move has taken its toll on my relationship with my kids and husband. Been having a particularly hard week and this morning my 2.5 yr old son ran into the kitchen and shouted: “I found you mommy”, and bit me on the bum! I had no choice but to laugh!

  • Jenn

    Snow! There was snow on the ground. Love it! Made me smile!

  • http://www.facebook.com/angelina.gloryvavali Angelina Glory Vavali

    On the way to my house, riding my motorcycle, the
    traffic light turned red. I stopped next to a car, and heard something like a
    “knocking” noise on glass, through my helmet. I turned and a little
    boy, sitting in the back of the car, looked away, thought I didn’t see him. I
    waved and smiled at him. The driver – a woman – turned to me and smiled, as
    well. Then the little boy turned to me, waved and smiled, as well. That scene
    and the exchange of smiles stayed in my head for the next half a mile that I
    drove. I still smile as I think about it !!!

  • ReidlingSeedling

    The ability to wake up and greet the day with an open mind

  • agray

    After an emotionally strained few days, a friend stopped by just to chat. It was relaxing and fun. The time definitely put a smile on my face.

  • Dawn

    It’s Friday! How can you NOT help but smile!

  • Jodi

    I have to say the title and cover of this book made me smile and my daughter sleepily getting out of bed this morning.

  • Atreau

    It made me smile when my dog put her head in my lap this morning.

  • Chad McCullough

    Watching our 2 year old son say goodbye to his sister before she enters her school in the morning. You can really tell there is love between the two. :-)

  • morgan21rose

    My best friend who recently moved 10 hours away from me sending me a text to make sure I was having a good morning.

  • http://twitter.com/scrappy_gzz Carlos Gonzalez

    Hear the wind through the winterly trees on morning. That really makes me smile

  • Dee

    I received a beautiful message from a friend on Facebook that her husband, who has been struggling with PTSD for a few years now, had just enrolled in a 6 week program in their area for veterans in which yoga is done 3 days a week. This comes after my encouragement and sending them articles on how yoga can help individuals with PTSD. It not only made me smile but it made my heart sing.

  • http://twitter.com/AshleyDPlatz Ashley Platz

    one thing that made me smile today was my boyfriends face when I asked if he’s join me in yoga class… and he said he would love to.

  • Dani Cook

    I’ve recently jumped back into yoga and am feeling extremely clumsy about it, but today during class the teacher actually used me as an example to show the rest of the class how to do this particular pose correctly. I not only smiled, I almost bursted out laughing!

  • Morgan Mathews

    I woke up today only 22 minutes before class started but somehow managed to make it fully dressed to class four minutes early. After being a bit down in the dumps with a virus, it served as the perfect reminder that things have a way of working out, which caused me to smile in the middle of a biology lecture.

  • Frank

    Plugging in to earbuds at work and doing what I love at my job.

  • Mary Ellen Angela

    Rainbows on my wall because the sun is shining through the prisms, even though it’s -9 outside.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michelle.mansour.92 Michelle Mansour

    Taking my one year old puppy for her first walk in the snow this morning. It always brings a smile when she discovers something new. Then I laugh at the fact that all that stimulation causes the zoomies and she just runs around with reckless abandon It’s just one of those things that reminds me to enjoy life and not be so serious.

  • Melanie

    What a perfect post to find this morning. After just coming out of hospital with a flare up of colitis, I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the title of the book, this was exactly what my heart was looking for, this made me grin from ear to ear!

  • http://twitter.com/belladonna115 Donna

    A Wonderful get to know you lunch with someone new made me smile!!!!

  • Lily

    The last couple of days, we’ve had flooding. This morning, it was 8F and the flooding froze. It was incredibly beautiful, the sun rising and shining on it. I’m in the Ozark Mountains, far, far inland but it reminded me of the sunrise on the ocean.

  • http://www.facebook.com/irina.predacarter Irina Preda Carter

    My cat made me smile today when she came in the morning in our bed to cuddle with me for a few minutes. I started my day on a good foot because of that. Meow! :)

  • Rebecca

    My pets made me smile today (and everyday!).

  • Angel

    Snow falling as I had coffee at lunch,all was calm and peaceful

  • Charlene Gary

    remembering how loving the other pets have been keeping me company since my old dog died. They make me smile.

  • Beth T

    watching my daughter braid my other daughter’s hair this morning.

  • a.zak

    My boyfriend’s dog acting as if she was the center of the universe.

  • Jenny O.

    The soggy cracker my toddler held out to me to share. She always offers all she has.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mitch.scott.148 Mitch Scott

    Enjoying breakfast with my partner after an early morning yoga practice. It always brings a smile to my face because I feel so grateful and happy for how great my life is at that moment.

  • http://twitter.com/blueshelled Ninja

    Time with my son on snowy day!

  • celestine

    Watching a lady in a restuarant where I was having breakfast receive a surprize bunch of flowers! JOY!

  • Kristin

    I smiled more than once today just for myself… to change my mood (stressful day). Something I learned years ago when I had to either start meditating or take medication. I went with the first med. Thanks for the post!

  • Summer

    Reading about how Judy, a volunteer at Monika’s Doggie Rescue, helped a rescue doggy go from a seriously damaged place he had been in his little mind, to being able to enjoy his walks and accept treats & find this world a beautiful place – this made me smile today, and inspired me to do something similar :)

  • http://www.madlabpost.com/ Nicole/TheMadlabPost

    A sudden compliment given by a stranger on the train this morning made me smile.

  • Nicole Marie

    What made me smile today was seeing my teen yoga students get ardha chandrasana after working really hard at it.

  • Gill

    Seeing and joking with a practitioner at the acupuncture clinic I am a client at brought a smile to my face today.

    Thank you for offering this giveaway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/missybliss Sharon Sng

    a stranger’s smile. A guy dressed in chinese costume in the supermarket, was greeting everyone for the coming lunar new year. You can’t help but to smile back.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Audragrady Audra Grady-Jaan Yoga

    My puppy running in the yard. Meditation by the window. Warm blankets. Chai.

  • friend forever

    Revisiting my old school, meeting up with friends and teachers and just being with them brought plenty of smiles to my face. I loved it! :)

  • b_ren

    The car wash :) …the bubblegum smell of multicolored soap, the Muppet-esque spinning washers, the water trickling down the glass… ah, I feel like a kid!

  • http://twitter.com/markhdavis Mark Davis

    My son’s fish think I’m the greatest thing that ever lived when I feed them.

  • Alana

    Cool! Sitting down and having enough time to relax and do something as simple as paint my nails this morning made me smile. It’s been a crazy few weeks!

  • Nicole Carlson

    waking up to the warmth of beautiful sunshine on my face made me smile today. :-)

  • Suzanne

    My mom showed me the fabric she just bought to make my niece a crib blanket. :)

  • marci

    text conversation with my mom about the legacy of strong women in our lives

  • dafree

    I saw a beggar today with her baby out in the street. It was a very cold morning and every one was rushing and were to busy to notice the beggar. She was too busy too, playing and laughing with her child. When I saw the face of that child I struck me how pure and how happy he really was just looking at his mother, despite the cold, the hunger and everything else. That made my soul smile :)

  • disqus_XkrsqrmR3T

    seeing a young boy on jumper stilts

  • Meli

    I smiled at Me today. ;-)

  • joanna

    My friend’s 10 year old daughter (Lauren) is battling leukemia. I heard this morning that Lauren’s entire 5th grade class visited the lawn below her hospital room and made snow angels for their sweet friend to see. Ahhhh, the power of love.

  • http://twitter.com/Aga_panthus Ivette Cruz

    Receiving a message from a friend telling me that the “just because” snail mail card I sent her made her smile. That made me smile.

  • Tanis

    I smiled today at my dogs, they give me love and understanding , unconditionally and just plain make me happy and a better person!!

  • summer

    seeing my 2 yr old daughter give her 2 week old little brother a kiss

  • Khady

    My two cats. The youngest was cuddling up to the oldest for an afternoon nap.

  • ela2013

    hearing my favorite song on the car radio…the voice of truth by casting crowns

  • Joanne

    I saw a picture of a very cute cat on the web today.

  • Michele

    When I opened the get well card from my mom. It was so sweet of her!

  • http://lonerwolf.com/ Luna

    Something that put a big smile on my face today was looking at my dog Archie. I call him “Shiva the great destroyer” because of a pink dot I put in the middle of his forehead a few days ago (and the fact that he destroys everything he touches) … it’s still there as we speak :) !

  • LaWoodstock

    Waking up in a sunny morning and watching my husband and my cat sleeping together in our bed :)

  • Dawn

    A conversation with my friend about a allergic reaction on my cheeks via text! ” Put a piece of salmon on your face and send me a picture!” Made me smile and giggle! What are friends for? :)

  • Louise

    Completing task two of the connect2happiness ‘challenge’, which was basically to go barefoot outside. Despite the cold outside I did it, not expecting much, but was surprised by how re-energised I felt afterwards. Occasionally thoughts
    popped into my head about the neighbour peeping through his window and wondering
    what on earth I was doing. But then the sheer ridiculousness of
    what I was doing made me laugh even more. Once back inside, the
    first thought that came into my mind was ‘Just quit job!’

  • Linsey Twigg

    The thing that makes me happy today is the realization that going through a divorce does not mean it is all over, and that maybe and very likely this is a good thing. Realizing I’ve made so many new friends, I have my own schedule and my own life and to also realize that I am solely responsible for my happiness, who I let into my life and who deserves the love I have to give. Realizing its all going to be okay :-)

  • Missi

    My husband made me a delicious cappuccino after a sleepless night being up with my sick son.

  • Shams

    I smiled and a tear came to the eye when I thought back and saw how in my journey, Yoga was the lynchpin that took recovery from alcohol and any number of other addictive behaviors and gave it more meaning and life than any number of 12 steps meetings could ever do. I’m not denigrating 12 step programs. But they seem to leave out the body. When you truly start to heal the body, the emotions, the mind, the energies, the breath, the capacity for insight, these all open in ways one never could experience before. I stopped grasping and clenching and started tasting life.

  • Cate

    Just looking at my boyfriend’s face makes me smile, knowing that we’re so fortunate to have met each other late in life — learning that it’s never too late for love!

  • Emily

    Waking up to do yoga made me smile today! :)

  • Joi

    Waking up to see the sun rise, making it to work on time and remembering that I am only human and it’s okay to feel and want more for myself.

  • http://twitter.com/eyewonit Nancy Reid

    The funny section of today’s newpaper!

  • Kristen

    Today, my big smile was because of my dog playing in the snow. He loves it so much! I’m so glad I moved from NC to Chicago!

  • Garnet Fulton

    What made me smile today was being out in nature and just having the opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds and energy of the moment.

  • Jasmin

    Watching my nine year old bake cupcakes. It’s a new hobby she enjoys so much.

  • Jamie

    Reading this post and realizing how much I will always have to improve upon myself and also how much I can always learn from simply listening to others. Oh and visiting one of my favorite farmers markets and buying whatever looked yummy to me at that moment and then trying to create some fun new dish from my purchase today :-)

  • amanda

    today i hosted a potluck and rite of passage ceremony for my friend’s 18th birthday. that girl > now a woman > makes me smile inside and out.

  • Angie

    Waking up in the arms of the person I love the most in the world and he makes me feel secure and beautiful without having to say a word.

  • http://wildonewithin.wordpress.com/ ♡eM

    My biggest smile happened after my eldest little love’s flight was diverted last night (she slept in an airport), delayed again this morning (twice), and her bag went missing. This smile, as I saw her step out of the arrivals door, expressed the joy my simple words cannot. It was the smile of her Nommy’s true love.

  • http://wildonewithin.wordpress.com/ ♡eM

    Good luck!

  • Greg Slater

    My wonderful husband took me out for lunch unexpectedly. It was so delightful and I smiled almost the whole meal. There can be happiness and life after grief, we simply have to enjoy different experiences and be prepared to let happiness happen – without guilt. Thank you.

  • jesbrey

    I smiled during a moment when I realized I let my guard down and enjoyed the superbowl with friends…something I truly believed I would never enjoy (referring to the superbowl) but with a positive and clear mind I was able to enjoy anything :-)

  • Jason Nakamura

    Watching my daughter’s playing in the snow and sliding down the hill on crazy carpets!

  • Jessica

    Seeing my roommate come back from India for the first time in 5 months and catching up. Oh how she made me smile with her familiar face and story time.

  • Starr

    Finding this site got a smile from me, it was a good day for stumbling about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patti.capparelli Patti Capparelli

    Glee and joy emanating from my very young son’s eyes and entire being for no reason made me smile this morning.

    Remembering the period when he often spoke of killing himself and wishing to be dead brought wells of emotion. Now, waves of gratitude mixed with raw pain of my child’s suffering run through me. I am grateful he has found himself.

  • Seattle Buddhist

    Watching the sun rise out our living room window as it comes up over the mountains.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JasonDNickolay Jason D Nickolay

    My Yellow Lab Lucy made me smile today!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tricia-Michael/100002459423837 Tricia Michael

    watching Sean Stephenson Dance Party Video on youtube – I loved it