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Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories from Yoga Renegades for Every Body by Melanie C. Klein

Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories from Yoga Renegades for Every Body contains thirty pieces of writing by participants in the Yoga and Body Image Coalition, an organization committed to body love through yoga. Acknowledging that the personal battle with the body that many people experience is actually a political one that spans the spectrum of human experience, and ‘reaps profits from this discontent and desire to fix oneself’ the essays in Melanie Klein’s second book (Yoga and Body Image was published in 2014) examine how yoga has been used as tool toward self-acceptance and self-love.

Sharing their own stories of individual and collective turning points, the contributors explore how body image and yoga practice intersect with race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, dis-ability, class and socioeconomic status, age, size, and society.

Pia Guerrero writes about how yoga was her tool to accept her body when struggling with Lupus and fibromyalgia, and like many writers in the book cites a yoga practice as a crucial tool to deal with perfectionism tendencies. ‘There is no perfection, just happiness’ writes Robyn Baker in her essay on using yoga as a way to assist with recovery from an eating disorder.

Media comes under the lens of many writers in the book, particularly the way that marketing employs ‘sneaky attempts to create or validate insecurities as an attempt to sell the solution,’ as Lisa Diers describes it. Jessamyn Stanley writes about how she has used Instagram to challenge the rich, thin, white girl image that pervades the yoga world, and Cyndi Lee speaks about her #selfie@sixty practice.

Taking up space isn’t something that we are encouraged to do in today’s world, yet that’s exactly what Gwen Soffer calls us to do. Kimber Simpkins calls on us to challenge the narratives of what constitutes a ‘good’ diet and exercise practice, and listen to the ‘expert within.’

Representation is something that the Yoga and Body Image Coalition are passionate about. In this book there are stories from people of all ages, body types and race, all of whom have found yoga as a way that they can change their own lives and the world they live in.

The aim of the coalition, and of this book, is to make the healing balm of yoga and meditation accessible to everybody, and every body. These essays are examples of how that path is beginning to be trod. It’s early days, but change is happening. We have to challenge the dominant narratives and rebel against the structures that keep us stuck, but through storytelling and practice, we can do so.

Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories from Yoga Renegades for Every Body by Melanie Klein is published by Llewellyn Publications.

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