Making a Difference

"It’s the story that’s captivating, as are the characters she meets along the way. First in her years in San Francisco, then near a beach in El Salvador where she managed Baptiste’s retreat-in-progress, tending the goats and chickens, and supervising a 20-man construction crew (all carrying machetes) while dealing with solitude, sickness, and deaths, and armed only with her teacher’s favorite mantra — “peace, harmony, wellbeing” — as political upheaval began in the not-so-distant distance."

Read more of the La Jolla Light review

La JollaLight, by Lonnie Burstein Hewitt

 

 
Hébert's memoir is a colorful eyewitness account of a transformational time in American history and an up-close look at a seminal figure in the history of yoga in the West."
Yoga Journal

 

 
KGO Radio's Joanie Greggains interviews Michele and discusses Michele's book, The Tenth Door. The interview is presented below:

KGO Radio's Joanie Greggains

 

 

It was a publishing phenomenon, a New York Times bestseller for over four years, with ten million copies in print.  I hardly know anyone who hadn't read Elizabeth Gilbert's marvelous book; Julia Roberts even starred in the film adaptation.  As an author myself, it seemed everyone in the industry was asking "Who's going to write the next Eat Pray Love?"  We have our answer ...."   Linda Johnsen is the award winning author of Daughters of the Goddess:  The Women Saints of India, and seven other books on yoga and spirituality.

Read more of Linda's Common Ground Magazine review

 

We have our answer: La Jolla yoga teacher Michele Hebert. Her breakthrough book, The Tenth Door: An Adventure Through the Jungles of Enlightenment, is another Eat Pray Love, but with more spiritual substance. It's perfect for readers who enjoyed Gilbert's delightful travelogue, but are ready for a follow-up with greater depth.

 

Hebert, a student of legendary yoga master Walt Baptiste, carries us from San Francisco to El Salvidor on a real life spiritual adventure. Whether waiting on tables in a vegetarian restaurant in California or meditating in a pyramid in South America, she keeps us at her side as she describes her many amazing experiences. All too often spiritual books are dry or preachy. This one you can't put down; its fun and engaging style keeps us eagerly turning the pages. Yet while we're being entertained, we're also learning something important about ourselves, and about what it takes to live as authentically spiritual beings.

 

I believe this book is going to make a lot of people enthusiastic about their spiritual practice again-the ones who've given up on their hatha yoga exercises or meditation because it didn't seem to deliver results fast enough. Here we see for ourselves what serious commitment to regular practice can produce. Hebert makes rigorous spiritual practice not only challenging but incredibly exciting. That's no minor accomplishment!

 

One of the many pleasures of The Tenth Door is rediscovering the yoga adept Walt Baptiste. He was a major figure in the history of yoga in the U.S., especially on the West Coast, but I had him filed under “body building and hatha postures” in my mental cabinet. I hadn't realized how profound his mastery of yoga science actually was, or what a tough and inspiring teacher he could be. Hebert has resurrected this great Raja Yoga master, bringing him back to life for future generations of readers, making him live and breathe in our awareness, and giving us the sense that he's still here teaching us too.

 

FYI, Michele Hebert is one of the finest yoga teachers in the Western world today. She's often in India, and has been initiated by both the Dalai Lama and the highly honored contemporary Indian sage, Swami Veda Bharati. She teaches meditation at the University of California, leads spiritual retreats, and is an expert in fitness and nutrition. I'm just grateful that she also found time to write this book!

 

The Tenth Door is loaded with insight and is spiritually galvanizing. It's one of the best books on living spirituality I've read in years. But what exactly is the tenth door? It's the portal we step through to fearlessness and freedom. If that's an adventure you'd like to undertake, this book will launch you on your way.

Linda Johnsen, M.S. 
Author, Editor, Educator
 

 

 

 

Hébert has written a 21st century spiritual adventure that is in large part "Autobiography of a Yogini" with an ounce of Eat, Pray, Love. Hébert lives through dangerous and even potentially life-threatening experiences, but as she puts it, "because I trusted my guru more deeply than I have ever trusted another living being, I was at peace with everything that was - and was to come." Whether or not you have a teacher on your own spiritual path, Hébert's story of devotion to hers, told with such clarity and kindness, will touch your heart. You may even question your assumption about the guru disciple relationship. Self-inquiry is a good thing....."  .

Read more of Amy's Yoga Therapy Today (IAYT) review

 

The Tenth Door is a spiritual memoir that begins in Cleveland, Ohio in the 50's, where Hébert was an inattentive doodler in her Catholic school religion class. Hébert has written a 21st century spiritual adventure that is in large part "Autobiography of a Yogini" with an ounce of Eat, Pray, Love. There is warm humor in the voice as she describes her Cleveland childhood where her father, William Hébert was a flutist with the Cleveland Orchestra, and she was his pupil. Hébert was also a sister to five brothers, and daughter to a "good-hearted" mother who was often overwhelmed by the management of her big chaotic household. Her teenage daughter escaped the chaos and challenges of family life by falling in love and an early and brief marriage during college to her high school boyfriend.

 

Hébert moves to San Francisco in the late 60's and finds her way to Walt and Magnana Baptiste's Yoga compound on Clement Street that includes the famous Hungry Mouth natural foods restaurant. The building in the Richmond also housed a new age boutique run by Magnana that was way ahead of its time, selling crystals and clothing from the Baptistes' travels around the world. Magnana's dance studio, Sherri Baptiste's health food store, Walt's body-building gym, and the yoga studio that first drew Hébert to the Baptistes were also within the compound walls. Hébert takes yoga classes with Walt in exchange for shifts as a server in the restaurant. Nobody judges her for smoking outside on her breaks. It's clear to Norm, the scholar in the community, that Michele is on a serious quest for enlightenment, and they know as she as yet does not, that the smoking will fall away.

 

Walt himself is fascinating. Before immersing himself in Yoga, he had been a champion body-builder who Hébert says is the architect of practicing repetitive sets in a workout routine. He teaches his followers yogic philosophy, the principles of yoga as therapy, the benefits of natural foods and good nutrition, and appears from these pages to have learned this himself-a natural autodidact without his own guru. We get glimpses of family life with the ten-year-old Baron, the youngest of the Baptiste children, who is now, along with sister Sherri, well-known in the world of Yoga.

 

Hébert's deepening attachment to Walt and the community is accompanied by a subtle change in her writing voice. There is not an ounce of irony in her description of her growing love for her guru. In an age where it's cool to practice yoga at your local gym but where devotion of any kind, much less to a guru, is often viewed with skepticism, it takes courage to stay true to the authentic expression of what it means to be a disciple in modern times. There is a purity and innocence to the writing voice that takes us through four years on a beach near the jungle in El Salvador, where Hébert managed Walt's retreat. Her clarity and her loyalty are tested during those years as the revolution in that country touches her life in frightening ways. Throughout the memoir, there is that glimmer of the seeker's clear vision. Hébert never conceals the depth of her spiritual commitment, nor does she mask her longing to awaken.

 

On her first visit, the twenty-eight year-old Hébert is unexpectedly left alone to manage the retreat center for a month, with little command of the language. Her companions are Walt's dog and a local hired couple, the husband of whom takes to howling at the full moon and waving a loaded gun in Walt's absence. But Walt has given her a deep asana practice to sustain her. He names ten postures, in each of which she is to spend an hour. After asana practice, she is to use her kriya breathing practice to contain the awakened sexual energy and move it up to her higher chakras.

 

With devotion and deep trust, Hébert assumes her duties and deepens her practice and grows to love her life in El Salvador. The memoir follows her home through the adjustments she makes when the war in El Salvador forces her return to the U.S. Hébert lives through dangerous and even potentially life-threatening experiences, but as she puts it, "because I trusted my guru more deeply than I have ever trusted another living being, I was at peace with everything that was and was to come."

 

Whether or not you have a teacher on your own spiritual path, Hébert's story of devotion to hers, told with such clarity and kindness, will touch your heart. You may even question your assumptions about the guru disciple relationship. Self-inquiry is a good thing.

Amy Weintraub 
LifeForce Yoga 

 

 

"The Tenth Door, an Adventure Through the Jungles of Enlightenment", a new book by Michele Hébert

 

Press Release:  [download here]
" Spiritual Memoir Takes Readers on a Rare journey with Legendary American Yoga Master"

 

 

"Yoga teachers Mehrad Nazari and Michele Hébert guided asana practices that left my body energized but relaxed - and so open that my legs slipped, effortlessly, into full Lotus for the first time ever."
Kaitlin Quistgaard,
Editor-in-Chief, Yoga Journal

 

 

"Inner  IDEA Conference attendees enjoyed many exquisite experiences ...  including Dr. Mehrad Nazari's "Spirit of Hatha Yoga," in which this wise man reminded everyone how tricky the mind can be: how it will attempt to talk you out of your commitment to a path. "Stay in the center," he advised.  Just knowing what the mind is capable of will help.  And what about when you need inspiration or encouragement? "Don't do affirmations in front of a mirror,” he urged. “Go out and look at the stars. You are that.".   
Kate Wilson, IDEA Publications
Excerpt from "Peace Meditation Meets Intense Core Training"