May I Be Happy by Cyndi Lee – We Are Not Our Weight

I was given a copy of ‘May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga and Changing my Mind’ by Cyndi Lee in exchange for an honest review. The book is about the author, a yoga teacher in New York, and her path towards her self acceptance. I decided to write the review because I thought the book dealt with an important issue that of body awareness and issues arising from that. Cyndi’s biography is very honest and she talks in depth about her struggles to accept her own body image. I love the way that she freely admits her own failings.  Yoga teachers are sometimes expected to be radiant beams of ultra health and inner peace and whilst yoga is amazing, we are human beings too and Cyndi deals with this in a candid way. Cyndi writes informal style  which makes you feel you are somehow engaging in conversation with her.


There are some good gems and conversations with friends and teachers along the way. I like biographical writing as I always learn something about humanity and how we are similar as well as how we are different. As a yoga teacher the issue of body image does come into conversation with my students and I have learned a lot from listening to how people feel about it. Some people, of both genders, experience issues surrounding their body image. I have to admit I have never given it as much thought as Cyndi has and my heart goes out to her. I also felt that much of the book explored her struggles and not enough of the solutions and as such I wonder if it may not ultimately be a good choice for somebody who is experiencing similar issues. 


Yoga is great for your health and wellbeing and physical styles of yoga such as Ashtanga Yoga can also help with weight loss. You have to combine this with a healthy lifestyle and diet in order for it to be effective. For some people weight loss is a good step towards a healthier body and is a great thing. I feel the health and fitness industry occasionally exploits this a bit and I am frustrated to see the numerous fad diets and fitness regimes which people seem to torture themselves with. I feel that these extreme behaviours seem to often become a cycle whereby someone puts on weight then tortures themselves with an exercise regime and diet which they hate and so do not maintain and then they repeat the cycle. My advice, if you need to lose weight,  would be to find an activity you like doing and make gradual changes to both your eating and exercise regime.


Unfortunately, the situation sometimes runs deeper than this. The author Cyndi Lee honestly illustrates how some people who are in healthy active bodies can still struggle with their body image.  There are also people who are overweight who are concerned with their image of themselves.  Who you are as a being is not defined by your weight. There are many people, just like you, who are waking up to this possibility and are learning to enjoy their bodies, and themselves as beings, for all the amazing things they can do.  It is my hope that through yoga you can take steps towards self acceptance and begin to make peace with yourself one breath at a time.


What has helped you on your journey to self acceptance?

About Helen Aldred

Helen Aldred practices and teaches ashtanga yoga in Liverpool. She loves to share and discuss yoga, as well as health and wellbeing. Follow her on twitter and join Ashtanga yoga Liverpool's Facebook community .


  1. I did a 2 day Workshop with Cindy at Triyoga soon after it opened, ie years ago, in the flesh I found her a great teacher, very compassionate, but also with humour as she took us through a physical practice followed by a more Buddhist mindful breathing practice. She had disappeared from my radar,but now you’ve reminded me I will have to look out for the book and her, thanks Helen.

  2. Cindy had disappeared from my radar since I did a workshop with her years ago, not long after Triyoga first opened. I found her a very compassionate teacher with an infectious enthusiasm to get you working hard, way before Kino came along. Along with asana she gave me my first taste of mindful breathing and introduced me to the more meditative aspects of the practice, not that I was ready for it, mumbo jumbo in my mind then. I will have to look out for her again.

  3. Hey Kevin,
    Thanks for your comments. Great to hear about your experiences with Cyndi as a teacher. I noticed she also studies Buddhism as she mentions it in the book and it is one of the things she and I have in common. She has also written Yoga Body, Buddha Mind, which I have not read yet.

  4. Hi Kevin,

    Nice to see your comments — thanks. I’ll be back at Triyoga this coming Sept. Maybe see you there?


  5. Hi Cyndi,

    Would be good to practice with you again, I will keep an eye on Triyoga’s website.

    Just hope my fractured arm is better by then


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