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Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body Paperback – October 8, 2014
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From the Publisher
25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body
In this remarkable, first-of-its-kind book, twenty-five contributors—including musician Alanis Morissette, celebrity yoga instructor Seane Corn, and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Sara Gottfried—discuss how yoga and body image intersect. Through inspiring personal stories you’ll discover how yoga not only affects your physical health, but also how you feel about your body.
- Alanis Morissette
- Seane Corn
- Dr. Sara Gottfried
- Bryan Kest
- Linda Sparrow
- Rolf Gates
- And more!
About the Author
Melanie Klein, MA, is a writer, speaker, and professor of Sociology and Women's Studies. She is a contributing author in 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics and Practice and is featured in Conversations with Modern Yogis. She is the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery + Loving Your Body, and co-founder of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition.
Anna Guest-Jelley, MA (Nashville, TN) is the founder of CurvyYoga.com, a training and inspiration portal for curvy yogis that has been featured in The Washington Post, Yoga Journal, U.S. News & World Report and Yoga International, among others.~
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
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Editors Melanie Klein and Anna Guest-Jelley present 25 personal stories, including their own. The other contributors range from well-known yogis, such as Linda Sparrowe, Rolf Gates, and Bryan Kest, to a variety of academics and even music personality Alanis Morisette. Each essay describes the person's journey with yoga and the relation to body image issues. Many, though not all, of the contributors went on to become yoga teachers themselves. The selections are organized around five main topics: Making Choices and Creating Change, On the Margins, Culture and Media, Parenting and Children, Gender and Sexuality. Through these themes, virtually every aspect of body image is covered.
Overall, I found these stories to be engaging and relatable. The experiences of the contributors are very normalizing of the struggles that many face both on and off the mat, and their narratives provide hope for the healing power of yoga. There were a few instances in which I thought that the authors took positions that were a bit extreme. For example, in her essay "Yoga is More than Just a Workout," Dr. Sara Gottfried begins by saying "I can hardly think of a woman I know who doesn't complain about a muffin top, or wrinkles, or the restricted menu of her latest fad diet..." She goes so far to normalize distorted body image issues that she makes it sound ABNORMAL to be a woman who actually feels GOOD about one's body! As a psychologist, I believe that in normalizing struggle, we also need to normalize contentment.
A final section of this book was "Where We Go from Here," which included recommendations for teachers. I would have liked to have seen more in this chapter, although I realize this was not the focus of the book. In the end, I definitely found this to be a good read, and I would recommend it both for yoga students and yoga teachers.
The editors of the compilation, Melanie Klein and Anna Guest-Jelley are both eloquent and insightful and have done a wonderful job of collecting a group of personal stories that offer an expansive and life-affirming vision of a western yoga community that is accepting of anyone who is drawn to the practice. While the title of the collection is apt, it may also lead some to believe the stories here are all related only to body size/shape. While that is certainly a theme in the book, there is so much more here. The authors have only one thing in common: they are all yogis who have a great appreciation for their yoga practice, and who recognize that their practice is not diminished because they don't fit the image of a yogi as presented by the media. Race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, class and physical ability are all addressed from the perspective of yoga practitioners who, in at least one way or another, do not meet general expectations and assumptions about who can (and is allowed to) benefit from a yoga practice. There is also an undercurrent of appreciation for the potential of yoga to help practitioners heal from disease/disorder, injury and/or trauma. The related experiences range from use of yoga simply for exercise, to profound mind-body integration, spiritual growth and healing. Many of the writers speak of how the practice, taken "off the mat," helps them to better cope with the anxieties and challenges of day-to-day life. I don't fit the common image at all. Reading about the journeys of others who value their practice but have often feel excluded from the "yoga community" gives me a sense of support and community. I would highly recommend this book to those who feel they don't fit the cultural expectation of what a yogi should look like, as well as to anyone who wants to gain a more expansive perspective on how yoga is of value on a deeper level to all who practice.
This book beautifully captures stories, articulately paints some pictures of REAL yoga. What it is, what it means to the contributors, how it has helped and changed their lives.
Body image is something that everyone can relate to, that we all struggle with. This book opens up those sometimes uncomfortable lines of communication with ourselves and what we see and accepting where we are beautifully right now, with yoga.
Appreciation and gratitude goes to the authors and contributors for putting this REAL stuff out on the table!