The old saying goes: "If you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em." So, along with the hordes of resolution makers out there who vow every January that this is The Year To Lose Weight, I am committed. Well, sort of. Not all of us are quite ready to jump on the ‘exercise til your eyeballs hurt' bandwagon, so I decided to do the next best thing: read about it.
I kicked off my regimen with Tales from the Yoga Studio by Rain Mitchell. To be honest, I half expected to either be insanely jealous of the uber-fit characters or a little out of touch with the yogini language, having only dabbled in the practice minimally. However, I was wonderfully surprised and quickly engrossed in the book, which is at times funny, touching, thought-provoking and downright interesting.
Ms. Mitchell writes very personably; it's as though you are have a conversation over coffee with your best friend. Despite the fact the book follows the lives of five very different women, it's not hard to keep track of who's who as each character unfolds both individually and as a group with a common interest.
Lee, mother of twins and wife of a husband who redefines narcissism, owns a small yoga studio in suburban Los Angeles and tries to balance her dreams with what is practical for her family. Katherine is a self-sabotaging former drug addict who provides a sense of renewal for her massage therapy clients but can't seem to afford herself the same luxury. Stephanie is a struggling screenwriter trying to learn from her mistakes and find her own way. Graciela is recovering from a possible career-ending injury, and Imani must learn to live again after a terrible personal loss. These women are not necessarily friends, but each finds balance and healing through the practice of yoga and, in turn, each other. They learn to push themselves beyond their limitations both on the mat and in their personal lives.
And although some of the hurdles the characters face are pretty heavy, the book is filled with many light, even laugh-out-loud moments. I found myself picturing some of the scenes in a very Saturday Night Live-esque kind of way. (Remember Hans and Frans?) Let's just say underwear is encouraged and "letting go" in a yoga pose now has a new meaning.
So even if you think Downward Dog is only something you say to your overzealous pooch and marichyasana sounds like something you might order at the local sushi place, don't be turned away. This book is as much about the human experience as it is yoga and all in all, a very good read. (And the fact that you burn 50 calories an hour turning pages doesn't hurt either!)
Recommended by Priscilla Garvin