Enlightenment, the Hard Way

The Mind-Clearing Power of Communal Body Contortion

Upon entering an ashtanga yoga studio, this is what you won’t encounter: a welcoming, light-filled space with Krishna Das on the sound system and an exuberant, smiling young teacher sporting dangly Ganesh earrings and telling you that your heart is a vessel of divine light essence as the group smiles its way into tree pose.

Here’s what you might find: A spartan studio tucked behind old retail windows in Portland, Maine, across from a pizza chain and a block from a fishing supply shop. The sign-in sheet sits beneath multiple photos …