I just finished reading the book, “Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses”, by Claire Dederer. I borrowed it from Poser Yoga, and found it to be a rather quick and interesting read. There were things in the book I could relate to, and some I could not, but it was still a book I enjoyed. As I often do after I read a book to review a book, I look to see what the impressions of other readers are, and I was a little surprised to see the reviews were all over the place, from two stars to five. Reviews included professional reviews, as well as reader reviews on the social networking site Goodreads. This book is a memoir, so there is definitely some personal freedom in the writing.
The premise here is that the author ties certain yoga poses to events in her life. Claire lives in North Seattle, and has a husband, a writer, and a young child (followed by kid #2.) If you have kids, you know that the first one can cause some anxiety to happen. Becoming a parent changes things in weird ways, including your body, which can suddenly become quite different than the one you took for granted before things (opps – I mean the child) take over. In Claire’s case, her back gave her problems, and she sought relief by practicing yoga. She was a complete newcomer to yoga, and that is something I understood. Finding the right practice is important if yoga is going to become a part of your life, and the wrong practice/teacher/philosophy can stop a practice before it even has a chance to get started. Claire got into it, though, and over the ten-year span in this book, she attends a variety of classes, with an equal variety of teachers. She got pretty intense for a while, though, and for some reason, that bothered me. It was in reaction to her life, so that was understandable. At one point, Claire, her husband, and two kids move to Boulder, Colorado, where she writes about Naropa University, a liberal arts college founded by a Tibetan Buddhist teacher. Meditation and yoga are regular parts of the curriculum, and she attended classes with teachers who still work there – I checked. Her basic philosophy was changing, but she was also not in Seattle, and ten years older. Life does change, as do our reactions to events.
My takeaway from this book was pretty simple – yoga can change a person. For whatever reason we take up the practice of yoga, there are going to be some changes, both physical and philosophical. I learned a little yoga history in this book, and found Claire’s linking particular poses to her current life situations interesting, but somewhat of a stretch. I did wonder what poses I might use to define my life situations. Different poses challenge us in a variety of ways, and the challenges can change over time.
If memoirs are something you enjoy reading, give this one a try. I think my overall rating would be 3.5 stars out of 5, but I think I would give it another read before I settled on that one. The North Olympic Library System has both a print book and audio ebook in the collection, so if this book sounds like something you might like to read, you have a couple of options, as well as the studio copy.