Spring Reads: Book Four {Poser}

Friday, March 1, 2013

When I started my new job in Maine this was the top book on my to-be-read pile. I knew next to nothing about it other than: memoir! and yoga! I had recently been practicing a lot of Bikram yoga and was intrigued about a woman who saw starting up yoga as a life-changing experience. Plus, I hadn't read a memoir in a while, so this seemed like a perfect one to pick up. 

Poser is about a woman who is settled within the hipster-central of a North Seattle neighborhood. She's in the process of building a family with her husband and new daughter, but is so caught up in having to have everything right (in the eyes of her community) for her daughter that she starts to lose track of everything else. She talks much about how certain things are looked as being the right way to do things (breast-feeding, organic shopping, hybrid driving, etc) and certain things are looked down upon (non-organic clothing, formula, regular diapers, etc) within her neighborhood and how that fostered within her a fear of being an awful parent if she didn't parent just like the rest of the stay at home moms even though she had a job.

A woman at the co-op counter suggested yoga to her and, though she was skeptical, she gave it a try. This one act started a life changing movement for Dederer. She soon finds herself confronting the things that shaped her generation of women and mothers. Those things that tell that women should be mothers, workers, wives, etc and they should be perfect in all those areas. Though thinking that yoga fell right into the organic lifestyle everyone in Seattle seemed to be trying to cultivate, Dederer soon learned that as she got deeper into her poses, she learned more about herself. She stopped looking for goodness (being a good mother, being a good wife, etc) and started searching for more joy (being a joyful mother, wife, etc).

Poser isn't just a book about yoga, it's a book about life. It's Dederer's honest account of coming to terms with all the demons and uncertainty in her past. It is her journey towards a greater understaning of what she wants out of her future and what things are necessary to help her and her family get there. It's a relinquishing of perfection in favor of the gritty realness of life.

This was a great book for me to read when I did. I had just quit a chaotic job working in a restaurant/bar and was moving north to Maine to work in experiential/outdoor education with middle school kids. Talk about a turn around in life. But, what this book reminded me was that change happens and there will always be people expecting certain things of you. It's how you deal with those expectations that matter; the ones you chose to acknowledge and try to live up to have to be reasonable and there will be ones you need to chose to ignore. The ones that are unrealistic or impossible to attain. Or the ones that are so unlike who you are or who you want to grow into. This book reminded me that you have to do a lot of work on yourself to take care of yourself. And that move to Maine? That's been a lot about taking care of myself.

Poser is a witty and heartfelt and incredibly keen memoir. It's powerful and brutally honest and will make you think about what you are searching for in life. And it's funny at times too. I loved how each chapter was titled after a different pose and how the nuances of that pose wove its' way through her words. It was never flashy, but it always made sense when a chapter came to a close. The chapter on Camel, for instance? Camel can create a sense of fear within a yoga practicer because it leaves your body open and exposed. That whole chapter was a raw and exposed chapter for Dederer, both with her yoga practice and her life. Take this quote, for example:
I carefully lifted out of the pose and spoke up: "Uh, Fran? When I'm doing the pose (camel), I have this feeling in my chest, kind of a scary, tight feeling." 
Fran was adjusting someone across the room. She had a way of looking like a thoughtful seamstress when she made adjustments: an inch let out here, a seam straightened there, and everything would be just right. She might as well have had pins tucked between her lips and a tape measure around her neck. Without missing a beat or looking up she said, "Oh, that's fear. Try the pose again." 
Fear. I hadn't even known it was there.
It's just a wonderful look at how all pieces of your life eventually end up fitting together. I'd totally recommend this to anyone who's ever done yoga, been uncertain about parts of their lives, or had uncertainties about being a woman in today's world.  In the end, Dederer has crafted an amazing story of the transformative nature of yoga on a person's life.

And now I need to get to my yoga class...

Title: Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses
Author: Claire Dederer
Genre: Memoir; Non-Fiction
Medium: Soft Cover
Pages: 368
Date Read: 24 February 2012
First Line: Taking up yoga in the middle of your life is like having someone hand you a dossier about yourself. 
Favorite Line: I had discovered something; there was a pleasure in becoming something new. You could will yourself into a fresh shape. Now all I had to do was figure out how to do it out there, in my life. 
Recommended: Yep.
Recommended For: Yoga enthusiasts; those who love Memoirs


  1. Hey! Love your blog! its super kewl! I just nominated your blog for the Liebster Award! You can see more information <a href="http://readalittleofeverything.blogspot.com/2013/03/liebster-award.html>here</a>.

  2. I just thought the same thing when I read the title. Yoga? Memoir? Awesome! I'll have to check it out. I really need to get back into my yoga routines.

  3. Hello there, I just wanted to let you know that you've been nominated for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award, for more information click here. http://laurynapril.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-very-inspiring-blogger-award.html


Thank you all so much for your comments! I'm only happy when I have comments. Really. You are contributing to my future happiness right now! XOXO