Poser by Claire Dederer
My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses

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Synopsis

The studio was decorated in the style of "Don't Be Afraid, We're Not a Cult." All was white and blond and clean, as though the room had been designed for surgery, or Swedish people. The only spot of color came from the Tibetan prayer flags strung over the doorway into the studio. In flagrant defiance of my longtime policy of never entering a structure adorned with Tibetan prayer flags, I removed my shoes, paid my ten bucks, and walked in . . .



Ten years ago, Claire Dederer threw her back out breastfeeding her baby daughter. Told to try yoga by everyone from the woman behind the counter at the co-op to the homeless guy on the corner, she signed up for her first class. She fell madly in love.


Over the next decade, she would tackle triangle, wheel, and the dreaded crow, becoming fast friends with some poses and developing long-standing feuds with others. At the same time, she found herself confronting the forces that shaped her generation. Daughters of women who ran away to find themselves and made a few messes along the way, Dederer and her peers grew up determined to be good, good, good--even if this meant feeling hemmed in by the smugness of their organic-buying, attachment-parenting, anxiously conscientious little world. Yoga seemed to fit right into this virtuous program, but to her surprise, Dederer found that the deeper she went into the poses, the more they tested her most basic ideas of what makes a good mother, daughter, friend, wife--and the more they made her want something a little less tidy, a little more improvisational. Less goodness, more joy.


Poser is unlike any other book about yoga you will read--because it is actually a book about life. Witty and heartfelt, sharp and irreverent, Poser is for anyone who has ever tried to stand on their head while keeping both feet on the ground.

 

About Claire Dederer

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Claire Dederer's essays, criticism, and reporting have appeared in Vogue, The New York Times, Slate, Salon, Yoga Journal, Real Simple, The Nation and in newspapers around the country. She has taught writing at the University of Washington. A fourth-generation Seattle native, she lives with her family on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound.
 
Published December 21, 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 347 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Poser

The New York Times

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The world is full of yoga books, including two histories of yoga in America that have been published in recent months: “The Subtle Body” and the much better “Great Oom.” Did Ms.

Dec 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre...

The New York Times

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O’Rourke put it this way: “Family love is messy, clinging, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper.” Dederer — a highly self-aware, clever book critic who has contributed to The New York Times Book Review — not only takes on this bad wallpaper as a subject, but she ...

Dec 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre...

BC Books

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She offers us her life's story, from her parents' separation and non-divorce that set the tone of her childhood, to her own birth as a mother, struggling to do right by her children amidst her perception of a social pressure to be perfect, to the evolution of her marital relationship.

Jun 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre...

Examiner

Using chapter heads from yoga poses she wittily and poignantly paints a picture of someone learning to utilize the tools garnered from the physical and mental struggles of yoga, and tenderly apply them to her life;

Jan 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre...

Book Reporter

Despite the overriding tone of frustration and a bit of irreverence toward yoga, Dederer finds peace and useful personal information in yoga.

Mar 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre...

Los Angeles Times

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I've also followed her same rough yoga path — from discovery (when the poses deliver "a dossier of information you're not sure you really want") to goal-seeking (I will get this leg behind my head if it kills me!) to the humble acceptance that yoga makes fools of goal-seekers ("The longer I do yo...

Jan 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre...

The Telegraph

The essential gift book for any pet lover - real-life tales of devoted dogs, .

Jan 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre...

Oregon Live

In her way, Seattle writer Claire Dederer presaged that exploration of the heritage and future of yoga with "Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses," a deeply personal, often hilarious memoir of her practice of yoga, and yoga's transformation of her heart.

Jan 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre...

The New Republic

Hatha Yoga means the union of opposites, and Claire Dederer had a lot of opposites to forge back into a whole.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre...

Bookmarks Magazine

Claire Dederer is a freelance journalist whose writing has appeared in the New York Times, Vogue, Real Simple, the Nation, New York, Yoga Journal, and other publications.

Dec 27 2010 | Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre...

Austin Chronicle

The prospect of a book-length accounting of new parenthood is enough to egg a flinch on to full-body shudder, but memoirists Claire Dederer and Nick Flynn smartly refract their parenting observations through other (very different) prisms: yoga and state-sanctioned torture.

Feb 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre...

Elephant Journal

Claire Dederer begins her book Poser: my life in twenty-three yoga poses with a prologue that describes what it was like to take up yoga while being a mom, a wife and hardly a spring chicken.

Jan 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre...

Knox News

She ventures into a yoga studio, hopeful that "somehow yoga was going to make me better."

Feb 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Poser: My Life in Twenty-thre...

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