(#giftedBook) Review: Yoke

Thanks to NetGalley and Workman Publishing Company for this free digital copy in exchange for an honest review. 🙂

For quite a while, I practiced yoga daily/almost daily. Once upon a time, I was even a yoga teacher for a brief moment. I even had an entire IG account dedicated to yoga, which still exists somewhere. When I moved away from Portland, it was one of those pieces of my life that I let slip away from me. I have been thinking about returning to my practice for a while now, and Jessamyn’s book, Yoke, was the perfect catalyst. She writes with such warmth and humor and I loved that in this book she focuses not so much on the postures, but what it is to live your yoga everyday. She speaks to her own practice and experience as a queer, plus-sized woman of color and emphasizes that yoga can and will look different for each person.

Jessamyn makes so many excellent points about the Whiteness of American yoga and how so many in that “culture” seemingly have no desire to discuss the roles they have played in appropriation and the lack of diversity seen in many classes. This is something I’m not a stranger to. When I was young and stupid and in the midst of my love for the practice, I got the “om” symbol tattooed on my back. I mean, wtf, right? I’m currently working on a design to cover it up, but it’s shit like this that Jessamyn speaks to in this book.

One thing she writes a lot about is the imposter syndrome she has felt over the years, and how she has experienced others basically confirming that feeling for her and her journey to accept and believe in herself. This was something that resonated with me deeply. It was one of the reasons I stopped teaching yoga. I took my 200hr yoga teacher training as a two-week immersion (based on my experience, I don’t recommend this) and I quickly realized that there were many gaps in my training that should have been addressed. While I tried to supplement these gaps, it left me feeling like I wasn’t good enough and didn’t deserve to be teaching others yoga. My anxiety already works to make me feel like an imposter is basically everything I do, so this wasn’t surprising. I pushed forward and worked to take more teacher education classes (for yoga) and then, to prove my anxiety correct, I had a couple of other teachers basically tell me I wasn’t good enough and I was no longer able to pick up sub positions at that studio. That, combined with other life stuff, was enough for me to quit attempting to teach despite the joy I found in it. What I find inspiring about Jessamyn’s story is that she hasn’t quit. She has kept at it and I love that. I’m happy to have picked up this book when I did.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who is or has ever been a yoga practitioner. It was interesting, entertaining, and insightful. I’m planning on ordering her first book, Every Body Yoga, as I make my way back to my yoga practice.

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