Elevate Difference

Ascent: Yoga for an Inspired Life (Winter 2006)

I am a lazy yoga practitioner: I go to class infrequently, never practice independently, and try but rarely manage to apply the principles of bliss, contentment, and internal focus to my hustle-bustle, hurry-scurry life.

Reading Ascent, a quarterly yoga magazine published in Montreal, has motivated me to be a little more yogic in the new year. Ascent is a beautifully-crafted glossy magazine. The Winter 2006 issue focuses on the theme of bliss which is explored in photo essays, exegeses by various swamis, and even a Peanuts comic, The Gita, in which Snoopy tells Linus “Even those who do not understand, but try what they hear and worship with faith, can transcend death, too.”

Ascent won the 2005 Utne Independent Press Award for Best Spiritual Coverage, but the strongest sections of the magazine are those which are focused on story and not spirit. The meditations by swamis are a bit tepid on whole, and I was quickly bored with the essay on Rumi’s mystical poetry because it fails to analyze the form or content of the poetry and instead riffs on divine tangents which, in my mind, are too esoteric and not based on the material fact of Rumi’s work.

The strongest sections of the magazine are the personal essays and non-fiction accounts, which include an essay on Bhutan, and a lovely essay about finding bliss while working in a bookshop. There is also a finely written, empathetic yet critical account by Hilary Keever about a drug rehab center/commune in Italy.

Yes, if you are at all interested in Eastern philosophy and yogic values, subscribe to Ascent. Maybe if you are more enlightened than I am, you won’t be as tempted to roll your eyes and can fully enjoy this well-edited and unique magazine.

Written by: Rachel McCrystal, January 15th 2007