YogaShelf Book Review: Yoga for Body Image
Books,  Reviews

Book Review: Yoga and Body Image

Paper Cuts & Bandaids

Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body
By Melanie Klein & Anna Guest-Jelley
Llewellyn Publications (October 8, 2014), 264 pages

Yoga and Body Image is like reading a diary — by 25 people. Authors Melanie Klein and Anna Guest-Jelley combine their own stories with other men and women in the yoga/health industry to deliver us a moving collection of essays. This book is a timely submission to our yoga bookshelves. As yoga increases in popularity so too has the media pressures and the images of “what yoga looks like.”

A challenging, but rewarding read, this book will give you much to think about. I am still chewing on it. It has been harder than usual to put my thoughts and words together. Why? It’s just a book isn’t it? No…

Yoga and Body Image feels like going to therapy.

As you read, you will be reflecting  on your own body image ideas, feelings and hang-ups. Facing your own insecurities is painful, but also the only way to let them go, move on, grow…

Reasons to put Yoga and Body Image on your bookshelf:

  1. Variety: There are 25 voices here to choose from. You will inevitably relate to a number of them and learn something from those who have dealt with situations vastly different from your own.
  2. Not the Quick Fix: The writers are not saying that yoga is the next quick fix, just as all those miracle diets are mirages. But, yoga can and does help many come to terms with their body image demons.
  3. It’s Not Just About Size: When I hear body image I automatically think of weight. But, these stories demonstrate that body image can mean your sex, sexuality, ethnicity, and so on.
  4. Everyone Struggles: There’s no joy in other people’s pain, but there is some consolation that you are not alone in your struggles.
  5. Therapy: Be prepared for some self-reflection.
  6. Yes, there is an interview with Alanis Morissette in here. I’ve always had a soft spot for Alanis, partly because she’s Canadian, but mostly for her ability to grow as an artist and a person.
  7. Favourite quote: “At a certain point in my teens, my body was simultaneously too skinny (for breasts) and too fat (for ballet).” (Marianne Elliott)

Lasting Effects:

Yoga and Body Image has left me with some paper cuts, but also a box of bandages to fix myself up. Moral of the story: anyone can do yoga. The journey is long and trying and we need to hear these positive messages repeatedly: there is no right body/person/type/shape when it comes to yoga.

Yoga is everyone’s.

This book has left me feeling more important, like I do have something to say. I’m shrinking back a little less. I am more mindful. My daily yoga practice is re-energized. The future looks less fuzzy. The sign of a good read is when it transforms you, gives you a paper cut or two — Yoga and Body Image is a great read.


Yoga and Body Image has something to offer any yogi at any level of experience. The format of essays written by different writers with very different backgrounds is genius. As a result, this book is perfectly equipped to appeal to and assist anyone who picks it up. If you don’t relate to one writer’s story, you will relate very strongly to another.

This book offers many recommendations to yoga teachers, such as — words and phrases that could be harmful, ways to approach assisting students, better ways to set-up a yoga classroom, and to consider teaching poses from most supported version to least. You don’t want to scare new students off. The goal is to make yoga more accessible.

The authors encourage us to continue the conversation about yoga and body image.

You’ll find Melanie Klein and Anna Guest-Jelley on Twitter: @feminstfatale and @curvyyoga.

YogaShelf Rating 4.5/5.

Get it:

Yoga and Body Image is available on Amazon, Scribd, Indigo, etc.

Small Talk:

What are your thoughts on yoga and body image? Have your own body image story? What helps/hurts your body image?

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