Neal Pollack Brings Stretch (and his yoga mat) to Changing Hands Thursday

Neal Pollack will admit he had no intention of practicing yoga or exercising at all for that matter. But after writing his second book and realizing the fate of his punk rock band, Neal Pollack Invasion, he knew it was time for change.

Little did he know he'd find change on a thin foam mat.

The writer grew up in Phoenix -- a place he kindly calls "Pump Up The Volume land" -- in the 80s before heading off to journalism school at Northwestern University. Stretch is his fifth book, taglined: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude. And he's seriously obsessed.

His book references the many yoga tours, seminars and classes in which he participated, but also provides a critical, humorous look at the yoga culture.You can catch Pollack, who is seriously bringing his mat and teaching a post-reading class, at Changing Hands Thursday, August 12 at 7 p.m..

Pollack answers these questions from the road:

- Five reasons you had for not doing yoga -- prior to converting.

(The answer, more questions and book trailers after the jump ...)

Oh, there were so many, but here are a few general categories ...
1. I wasn't flexible, strong, or otherwise in shape.
2. I thought yoga was for women.
3. I was afraid of chanting and other New-Age trappings that I associated with yoga.
4. I didn't really know anyone who practiced.
5. Yoga? Seriously? Come on.

Four things they didn't teach you about being a writer in journalism school:
1. When I entered college, we were still working on manual typewriters, so you do the math about how much we learned about using the Internet.
2. It would have been nice if they'd devoted a few class hours to balancing your checkbook or keeping your health insurance.
3. How to write in the first person without sounding like a self-absorbed moron. This is a lesson I'm still trying to learn.
4. I can't think of anything else. Even though I was kind of grumpy and ungrateful about it at the time, I went to a really good journalism school.

- Three reasons why you considered Phoenix for a stop on your tour ... Or if you had no say in the matter, three reasons why anyone should ever consider stopping in Phoenix on any kind of tour:
1. I grew up in Phoenix and still have lots of friends there, even more with the advent of Facebook and my recent high-school reunion. There's still kind of a hometown crowd vibe at my events.
2. I can't speak for a rock tour or any other kind of tour, but Changing Hands is a great bookstore and it's always a pleasure to read there.
3. Great hiking everywhere, and an increasingly excellent food scene. However, I don't really recommend touring through in August, because it's the 9th circle of hell then. I couldn't help it this time, though, because my book came out in August.
3(a) I love the Suns. I always have. Just thought I'd say that.

- Two things you can't live without while on the road:
1. My Kindle. It's made traveling a lot easier because I no longer have to
drag along a bag full of heavy books. Perhaps not the best admission to make
before visiting an independent bookstore, but I still love actual books,
2. Lactaid. I used to carry condoms in my wallet. Now, it's lactose pills.
And, just like that, I'm 40.
2(a). My yoga mat. It's like a blankey for grownups. Except that I don't sleep with it.

- 1 reason why people should suck it up and embrace yoga (and your book): Because yoga is fun, and for everyone. I really mean it, I swear. You feel
great after you practice, and even if you don't feel great, you'll have the tools to help you feel better. You don't have to be a New Age idiot to practice yoga; you can still be smart and have a sense of humor. The practice exists to accommodate people of all attitudes, belief systems, and general levels of crankiness. And if you don't like it, that's ok, too.

And now for his book trailers: