Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses

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The studio was decorated in the style of "Don't Be Afraid, We're Not a Cult." All was white and blond and clean, as though the room had been designed for surgery, or Swedish people. The only spot of color came from the Tibetan prayer flags strung over the doorway into the studio. In flagrant defiance of my longtime policy of never entering a structure adorned with Tibetan prayer flags, I removed my shoes, paid my ten bucks, and walked in . . .

Ten years ago, Claire Dederer threw her back out breastfeeding her baby daughter. Told to try yoga by everyone from the woman behind the counter at the co-op to the homeless guy on the corner, she signed up for her first class. She fell madly in love.

Over the next decade, she would tackle triangle, wheel, and the dreaded crow, becoming fast friends with some poses and developing long-standing feuds with others. At the same time, she found herself confronting the forces that shaped her generation. Daughters of women who ran away to find themselves and made a few messes along the way, Dederer and her peers grew up determined to be good, good, good—even if this meant feeling hemmed in by the smugness of their organic-buying, attachment-parenting, anxiously conscientious little world. Yoga seemed to fit right into this virtuous program, but to her surprise, Dederer found that the deeper she went into the poses, the more they tested her most basic ideas of what makes a good mother, daughter, friend, wife—and the more they made her want something a little less tidy, a little more improvisational. Less goodness, more joy.

Poser is unlike any other book about yoga you will read—because it is actually a book about life. Witty and heartfelt, sharp and irreverent, Poser is for anyone who has ever tried to stand on their head while keeping both feet on the ground.

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About the author

Claire Dederer's essays, criticism, and reporting have appeared in Vogue, The New York Times, Slate, Salon, Yoga Journal, Real Simple, The Nation and in newspapers around the country. She has taught writing at the University of Washington. A fourth-generation Seattle native, she lives with her family on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound.

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Additional Information

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Dec 21, 2010
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Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Health & Fitness / Yoga
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Yoga Mind and Body has garnered much praise from senior Sivananda yoga teachers worldwide, and this new book retains all the features that made the existing book so successful - clear instructions on each pose demonstrated step by step, common mistakes shown and explained, and a list of the physical and mental benefits of each pose - together with a fresh, new design; beautiful specially commissioned step-by-step photography of the yoga poses; and a number of added features to make the book even more accessible and user-friendly. A new chapter on The Many Benefits of Yoga gives a fascinating and valuable overview of the ways that yoga can maintain or restore the health of the body. With the help of specially commissioned anatomical drawings, it explains how yoga poses work on and benefit the body, including their effect on different types of muscle and the connective tissue (the vast network of elastic tissue that encloses and connects muscles and organs); how poses can help to stimulate our hormonal system; the vital role they play in calming the nervous system, helping you to relax and deal with stress; and the powerful effect yoga has in oxygenating the whole body, and especially the brain, which needs plentiful supplies of oxygen to function properly. In the chapter Proper Exercise, the yoga poses are arranged in the order you should practice them in, and poses are clearly labeled beginner, intermediate, or advanced, helping the reader to progress at his or her own pace. At the end of the book, in another new feature that yoga students will welcome, there are specially devised programs of yoga poses for beginners, intermediate, and advanced students of 20, 40 and 60 minutes each. The chapters on Yogic Breathing and on Positive Thinking and Meditation provide detailed advice on breathing techniques and on how to meditate. The Vegetarian Diet chapter has also been rewritten, and now includes a helpful transition eating plan to becoming vegetarian. The chapter also includes over 40 wholesome and delicious all-new vegetarian recipes.
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