Alice Williams put in the hard yards to recover from a debilitating food addiction – and then relived some of her darkest times to pen her new memoir, Bad Yogi. Here, Alice shares the how and why behind her choice to put it all down on paper.
Bad Yogi traces the two years I spent training to become a yoga teacher while seeking treatment for an eating disorder. But it’s also a piss-take on the whole ‘wellness’ genre. If you believe the marketing imagery, you’d think that ‘wellness’ was just tanned, dewy limbs and dawn yoga sessions on the beach where sand never gets all up in your cracks.
The reality is that ‘healing’ in any meaningful way is really messy! It involves getting down and dirty in your s**t (literally, as you’ll see in some of the more extreme yogic cleansing practices) and it ain’t always pretty! (But definitely worth it, I’d hasten to add.)
The writing process was also confronting and there were times when I questioned what the hell I was doing. Writing a memoir is really a constant loop of three thoughts: ‘Everyone will laugh at me … but mostly no one will care … except my family who will never speak to me again.’
But in fact it was cathartic and I had a blast writing the first ‘draft’, if you can call it that. I kept a lot of journals at that time and it was so much fun unleashing on the page every night when I thought no one would read it. And that’s the way to write, really, because when you start thinking people will read it, let alone judge you, it can be crippling. Writing the second draft, when I knew I was submitting it for publication, was gruelling!
But I had faith that other people might relate to my story, and relate more to the embarrassing parts than any #blessed malarkey. And that gave me the courage I needed to get over myself and write the darn thing.
I was so bored by a lot of the earnestness around spirituality and healing, as if the higher the consciousness the more devoid of personality you have to be. (I think they call it ‘going clear’ in Scientology? Imagine putting that on your dating profile.) Reading should be a joy, not something that makes you feel like you’re dutifully eating your vegetables while being ‘bettered’.
I wanted to write the book I wish I’d had when I was going through what they call ‘the fires of transformation’. The healing path, for me, was so heavy and painful, but also quite often ridiculous. We in the yoga community can get our heads stuck up our asanas sometimes and I wanted something that would acknowledge the pain, but also make me laugh.
Aside from laughter, I hope that readers of Bad Yogi come away, first of all, with the recognition that they’re not alone in all their wickedness. And second (now I really am going to sound earnest) is recognition of a different kind. When you know you need to change (as I did) you can start desperately looking outside for answers – which is important, and there’s a lot of wisdom out there to be had. But the best teacher we will ever have is the one inside us. There is a light in each of us that is so incredibly bright, but we don’t see it. There’s a voice of wisdom that many of us have no idea how to access. So I want people to take away a bit of faith, that if someone as far gone as I was can sorta find it, then maybe they can too.