I practiced yoga for all of one semester in my second year of college. One class a week–Hip Hop Yoga. It was the most fun I’d ever had exercising, and the class had a very relaxed and welcoming feeling (the old school hip hop music, and the fact that we had to “dance” in several poses helped everyone loosen up). It’s been almost two years since that early Friday morning class, but I still think about how relaxed and healthy I felt for those few months. The memory of the class is what drove me to pick up Tales From The Yoga Studio by Rain Mitchell.

Tales From The Yoga Studio

The book is part “yoga is awesome” and part study of how complicated our lives become when we don’t follow our instincts. It follows the lives of five very different women: Lee, the studio owner; Katherine, an ex-junkie turned massage therapist; Graciela, an injured dancer trying to make her big break; Imani, a successful actress trying to hide from herself; and Stephanie, a talented screenwriter who is one more rejection from giving up. The only thing they have in common is yoga and Lee’s passion to “fix” her students.

The role yoga plays in each woman’s life is different, and made the book a fun read. They are constantly drawn back to the studio and Lee’s teaching to find the peace and healing their lives require to move on from past mistakes. But when Lee is drawn to a larger studio’s offer for a new job with a salary larger than she’s ever imagined and health insurance, their desires are torn between supporting Lee and their need for her healing classes. Lee wants to keep her students together and run the studio she has put her entire heart into, but her failing marriage and the happiness of her twin sons may depend on this new opportunity. Does she stay true to her passion for small classes and relationships with her students, or pay the bills and move the boys to a better school?

All of this yoga happens against a backdrop of LA film industry drama. Lee’s studio is set in a small, very quiet, suburb of the city. As the yoga crazy sweeps the country, large chain studios are forcing the small independent ones out of business. The book addresses questions about the relationship between physical and mental health, if it is selling out to want a more stable life instead of a life filled with passion, and how to stay true to yourself when you’ve made mistakes in the past that you can’t escape.

Tales From The Yoga Studio was a complete joy to read. With all the drama going on in my life, it was calming to read this book and be reminded of how great yoga can be (if only it didn’t cost so much…sigh). With five women having very drama-filled lives the book felt rushed at times, but their problems did feel completely natural with how the characters developed over the course of the book. I’m excited to read the rest of the series when the books come out.