Book review // Yoke: my yoga of self-acceptance

Iit’s hard not to gravitate towards the beautiful packaging of Yoke. The book is small, with textured paper, beautiful illustrations throughout, and soft colors. But Jessamyn Stanley’s voice is neither small nor deaf, and her collection of incredibly honest, unapologetically funny and autobiographical autobiographical essays invites the reader to embrace the deeper, authentic spirit of yoga and their own self-acceptance. .

The Sanskrit word yoga means “to harness”, as in, “to unite”, to marry breath, thought and movement, to link body, mind and spirit, and to explore the meaning of balance, linking the good and the bad, light and dark, on and off the mat. Stanley encourages exploration of these ideas as she takes the reader on her personal journey of discovering and teaching yoga, growing up as a Bahai, reading tarot, loving astrology, learning to meditate, practicing home and finally land a Yoga Diary magazine cover.

A far cry from the typical self-help and wellness books that tend to be deeply intellectual or overly flowery, Stanley strikes a balance and tells it like it is, like you’re having a conversation with a friend. In the first chapter, she lets you know right away that “the fine print of being a fat, black, queer yoga teacher in a predominantly thin, white, very straight yoga industry is that there’s has as many people who are inspired by you as there are with a strong desire that you keep your mouth shut.” She isn’t shy about talking about raw feelings and real-life topics like impostor syndrome, wealth inequality, cultural appropriation, sacred music, plant medicine, and white guilt. She does it all with a cool voice, charm and quick wit.

Yoke unpacks the deeper meaning of yoga and reminds readers that “everyday yoga is not about perfecting your downward dog, but about applying the hard lessons learned on the mat to the even more challenging daily life project.”

208 pages // Workman Publishing // Autobiography, Mind and Body Therapies