Jan 4, 2012

Book Review : Poser, my life in twenty-three yoga poses by Claire Dederer

"You girls, you take everything so seriously," said my mother. "You make it so hard on yourselves. When our children were little, we weren't so worried about everything. We liked to have a good time." (ch. 4)

Book description: Ten years ago, Claire Dederer put her back out while 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."

Comments: Claire Dederer says about her memoir Poser, "This book was inspired by my mother and her life." Claire and her brother Dave grew up in a nontraditional family, since her mother left her home and her husband when her two children were young and took them with her to live with Larry, a much younger man. Over the years, the families on both sides came to live with this unusual arrangement. Claire's parents refused to divorce and continued to be "married" while they lived separate lives.

Though Claire admits that growing up with this arrangement did not really damage her or her brother, she concludes that her mother's life may have both liberated her, Claire, from living a conventional life as a young adult, and helped form her as a mother and wife who had to do everything the right way, no matter what. The discovery and the practice of yoga helped to show Claire what lay inside her subconscious, underneath the outward layers where she was being the perfect person and mother.

I loved reading about her journey to self-realization and, as a beginning yoga enthusiast, ate up the detailed descriptions of the 23 different yoga poses that she melded into the story of her life - her life as a child growing up in two different households, as an adventurous and unorthodox young adult, and as an overly-dedicated married woman and mother.

Title: Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer
Published: December 21, 2010
Genre: memoir
Source: library
My rating - 4.5/5

© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission


  1. Wow, certainly a book I wouldn't have known if I was not blogging. Thanks, it sounds good.

  2. This sounds like an excellent read! It was recommended to me after finishing (and enjoying) Meryl Davids Landau's Downward Dog, Upward Fog, and I'm definitely interested in pursuing yoga this year. Thanks for a great review!

  3. I am a huge yoga enthusiast, and the fact that this book melds my favorite form of exercise with a more personal story really has me excited. I have ordered this one from the library, and I can't wait for it to get here! Great review today!

  4. I want to do yoga and I would be interested in her story and that unorthodox upbringing too!


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