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“Yoga Girl” Discussion > "Yoga Girl" Chapters 1- 3

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message 1: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica (jessicatopper) | 74 comments Mod
Welcome to our group chat on chapters 1-3 of “Yoga Girl” by Rachel Brathen. I wasn’t very familiar with Brathen before beginning this book – I guess I was living under a rock while 1.5 million other people decided to follow her @yoga_girl account on Instagram! :) In addition to her stunning and inspiring photos, Brathen is an international yoga instructor who lectures around the world and leads workshops and retreats.

Taking a cue from Meryl’s past discussions, I’ve crafted some questions to merely serve as prompts to get a chat going about the book. Feel free to answer only those that speak to you, or to just jump in with comments about anything that struck you while reading. The only rule is no spoilers, so nothing beyond chapters 1-3 in this thread!

Feel free to comment even if you aren't reading the book, if anything pertains to your own life or yoga practice.



Chapter One, Yoga Every Damn Day, looks at everyday life and simple ways to incorporate yoga and balance into our lives. In her words: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

1) After reading chapter one, do you feel more “forgiving” toward yourself and your practice?

2) Brathen comments that the definition of a real yogi is “someone who goes with the flow of life and takes each moment as it comes.” Do you believe this? Do you think it can hold true both on and off the mat?

3) What do you think of Brathen’s idea that we make changes in our life based on love or on fear?

4) Like Brathen, do you have any simple rituals to set the tone for the rest of your day? Can you see yourself incorporating some of hers?

Chapter Two focuses on making peace with your past: To love what is ahead, you must love what has come before.

5) Rachel chronicles her journey as a young girl reeling from and dealing with the death of her stepfather, to spiraling into rebellious and dangerous behaviors as a teen. What do you think she hoped to accomplish by opening up to readers? Did it change your perception of her? Or of meditation, which she says gave her the “tools” to cope?

6) What did you think of Rachel’s mother’s decision to send her to a therapeutic meditation retreat? Did this surprise you?


Chapter Three, Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost, suggests taking charge of your life, and inviting in opportunities and positivity.


7) We learned in chapter one that Rachel’s introduction to yoga was while on vacation with her family in Thailand as a young teen. In this chapter, it seems her next significant exposure to yoga was in Costa Rica, a few years later. Do you think it makes a difference to be in a wholly “new” environment when opening yourself to a new experience, yoga or otherwise?
And just for fun: where is the most “exotic” place you’ve practiced yoga?


8) Brathen’s mantra in this chapter is “Do no harm – but take no shit!” What is your take on that?

Overall thoughts so far:

9) What do you think of the setup/format of the book? Do you like the recipes, photos, poses and “loving insights” intermixed with the text, or do you find them distracting?

10) Although many of the poses shared up until now are fairly basic, have you learned anything new from her descriptions or instructions?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
Jessica


Marie | 3 comments I am enjoying the book so far. I have set aside morning yoga time - at least 30 minutes and have hot water with lemon. Then coffee and begin my day. I feel forgiving in my poses knowing that yoga is a practice. My body feels stronger everyday and I noticed it has memory in some poses as I used to practice yoga more often a few years back.


message 3: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa | 40 comments Chapter one...

1. Do I feel more forgiving toward myself and my practice? Not really, my practice has taken a hit this past year and a half. I had surgery and there were complications, I let my yoga fall off the earth because I had given up. Ready to recommit to my practice. Reading this book is helping!

2. Brathen comments that the definition of a real yogi is “someone who goes with the flow of life and takes each moment as it comes.” Do you believe this? Do you think it can hold true both on and off the mat?

I think you can be a real yogi and still be organized and plan things out. I love being organized, making lists, using a planner, it helps me stay focused and find time to practice yoga and be more calm. I am a little ocd ;)

She also wrote "Real yogis are simply those who live well, doing their best with what they have"


3)What do you think of Brathen’s idea that we make changes in our life based on love or on fear?

Some truth to that for me! Anxiety and fear often play a role in big decisions for me, don't want to make the wrong choice! Recent choices left me in physical therapy for over a year, don't want to make that mistake again. I continue to learn and grow from my experiences.

4)Like Brathen, do you have any simple rituals to set the tone for the rest of your day? Can you see yourself incorporating some of hers?

I do have rituals, I love my morning mocha!! I usually focus my day around it ;) I would love to try the warm water with lemon and practice yoga in the mornings. I hope to try this on my off days from work. Also agree that I could spend less time on the internet, I get in a loop of checking my social media throughout the day!


message 4: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica (jessicatopper) | 74 comments Mod
That's great, Marie! I love the idea of starting the day with hot water and lemon. I am going to try that myself. I'm guilty of the "mindlessly scrolling" through emails and the internet while gulping down my first cup of coffee, and I would love to get in a better habit, first thing.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lisa! I guess maybe "forgiving" wasn't the perfect word to use in question number 1. But for those of us who feel like we've slacked off, or stalled out, it's nice to hear Brathen's words of encouragement, almost like "amnesty," if you will. I've lost muscle strength and gained some weight over the last two years, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed trying to get back to that "place" I was before in my yoga practice. I don't think I was giving myself permission to just start again where I am, with what I've got, and doing the best I can at this point. :)

I love the quote you shared about "real" yogis - it ties in very well!


message 5: by Robyn (last edited Aug 10, 2015 05:15PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Robyn (robynvinessmith) | 6 comments 1) After reading chapter one, do you feel more “forgiving” toward yourself and your practice?

I feel like I learned the hard way about trying to take on too much and letting my ego get in the way. I totally agree with her about being where you are and being OK with that. There's no need to impress anyone!

4) Like Brathen, do you have any simple rituals to set the tone for the rest of your day? Can you see yourself incorporating some of hers?

My morning ritual used to be yoga first thing, but I find I'm way too stiff and it just hurt me. I had back problems for a long time. Do others have this problem? I used to do the hot lemon water thing and I keep meaning to start up again. My current ritual is breakfast (I love breakfast!) with my newspaper or a great book, followed by a cup of green tea while catching up on social media. It makes me feel connected to my loved ones and friends.

5) Rachel chronicles her journey as a young girl reeling from and dealing with the death of her stepfather, to spiraling into rebellious and dangerous behaviors as a teen. What do you think she hoped to accomplish by opening up to readers? Did it change your perception of her? Or of meditation, which she says gave her the “tools” to cope?

I think this really adds to the story because everyone loves the "yoga saved me" stories. I mean, she's beautiful and inspiring without that angle, but you see how the meditation, connecting with the Earth and doing yoga led her to a new place and that will inspire many people, especially those who are in dark places right now and looking for a light to guide them.


9) What do you think of the setup/format of the book? Do you like the recipes, photos, poses and “loving insights” intermixed with the text, or do you find them distracting?

I have mixed feelings about the format. I like that the text is broken up with pictures and other things, but it can be annoying to stop reading the text and jump over to a recipe or those "tips" pages. I think the recipes would be better if they were all placed together because it would be easier to find them or flip through them when you want to make something.


Peg - reading heals | 7 comments I've done sun saluations first thing every morning for about three years and it's made a huge difference in my life. In my flexibility for sure. That's been my only yoga, though. Recently I've starting adding more time and poses after the sun salutations. I Iove it, and my day starts out so much better. The last few weeks, however, I have been giving my practice less time and it's shrinking down again. And I really notice it mentally and emotionally. The more yoga I can do in the morning, the better able I am to balance things and flow with my day. Chapter one is like a great big nudge reminding me of that.


Nancy Schroeder flannery | 8 comments I am really enjoying this book, and can very much relate to it. I have been doing the lemon water in the morning for a long time.

1) After reading chapter one, do you feel more “forgiving” toward yourself and your practice?

Yes, I do, I have been struggling for a long time to lose weight, to be a better person and on and on. The thought that it is ok to be me, and to try to do things in moderation is ok, that I don't have to feel the need to mathematically calculate my calorie intake and burned everyday!

2) Brathen comments that the definition of a real yogi is “someone who goes with the flow of life and takes each moment as it comes.” Do you believe this? Do you think it can hold true both on and off the mat?

I do believe in going with the flow of life and taking each moment as it comes, I find it hard to practice that though. I do believe it is true of most Yogi's. Yes, I believe it can hold true both on and off the mat.

3) What do you think of Brathen’s idea that we make changes in our life based on love or on fear?

This has been very true for me, I'm sure it is very individualized.


4) Like Brathen, do you have any simple rituals to set the tone for the rest of your day? Can you see yourself incorporating some of hers?

The only ritual I have is drinking the lemon water and silence. I love silence from the time I wake up until the time I leave for work. This does not always happen for me, my husband like to blast 80's rock and roll music 1st thing in the morning, same stuff we've been listening to for 30 years! Right now, I am traveling form my job so I am enjoying my morning silence! I do try to do sun salutations every morning but have not been real faithful with it. I am now going to make it a practice every morning. I feel so much better when I do!

Chapter Two focuses on making peace with your past: To love what is ahead, you must love what has come before.

5) Rachel chronicles her journey as a young girl reeling from and dealing with the death of her stepfather, to spiraling into rebellious and dangerous behaviors as a teen. What do you think she hoped to accomplish by opening up to readers? Did it change your perception of her? Or of meditation, which she says gave her the “tools” to cope?

I think she hoped to open up to people to show them that one can overcome. It did change my perception of her in that I felt like instead of being someone unreachable, she was a lot like me. I am very interested in meditation and have not really practiced it. After reading the first three chapters, I will start practicing meditation. I do believe it can be very healing.

6) What did you think of Rachel’s mother’s decision to send her to a therapeutic meditation retreat? Did this surprise you?

Yes, I was very surprised, I thought it was a great decision!


Chapter Three, Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost, suggests taking charge of your life, and inviting in opportunities and positivity.


7) We learned in chapter one that Rachel’s introduction to yoga was while on vacation with her family in Thailand as a young teen. In this chapter, it seems her next significant exposure to yoga was in Costa Rica, a few years later. Do you think it makes a difference to be in a wholly “new” environment when opening yourself to a new experience, yoga or otherwise?

I think it could make a difference. I once was at a class where the instructor did not like the way my downward facing dog position looked and she tried to bend my body into the correct position and called me out several times during the practice. If that had been my first yoga experience, I probably would have never gone back.

And just for fun: where is the most “exotic” place you’ve practiced yoga?

I don't know if it is considered exotic but on the front porch of a cabin in the woods, on a mountain in Alaska.


8) Brathen’s mantra in this chapter is “Do no harm – but take no shit!” What is your take on that?

I tend to have the habit of letting people walk all over me. I just put up with 4.5 years of working in a very unhealthy environment because I was afraid to leave and try something new. It was physically and mentally unhealthy, the mental part being the worst. I have spread my wings and have taken a job traveling to a different job site every 13 weeks. I am trying real hard to live in the present moment, practice kindness, not to react in a negative way, but not to take any crap!

Overall thoughts so far:

9) What do you think of the setup/format of the book? Do you like the recipes, photos, poses and “loving insights” intermixed with the text, or do you find them distracting?

At first I found them distracting, but it has grown on me and I'm liking it. I am looking forward to trying the recipes.

10) Although many of the poses shared up until now are fairly basic, have you learned anything new from her descriptions or instructions?

I find her descriptions and instructions helpful and I would say it is a good learning experience for me.


Karissa (swansonkl) | 31 comments I am really enjoying this book as well. At first the format was distracting but I now read the chapter and go back to read the through the yoga poses and recipes which I'm glad are in the book. I especially like her "Loving Insights" sections and the quote "Explore the world and soak up the wisdom that lies in every lesson you learn along the way. Life is meant to be an adventure!"

I do the lemon water in the morning, a smoothie or juice and then head into my day. I tried doing a meditation in the evenings but have not been committed for awhile. I also was going to yoga classes at a studio that I loved but it closed and am presently looking for another. I do yoga at home when I'm achy and in need of some stretching. I'm ok with all this because life does ebb and flow. I do miss a regular routine though. I feel better.

I love the sharing of her personal journey, very inspiring. Now I want to give the book as a gift to a couple of people that I think will enjoy it. So nice to hear everyone's view of the book so far.

One of the most wonderful places that I practiced yoga was Copper Mtn. CO during a retreat. So beautiful and so many great teachers. I would love to visit where the pictures in the book were taken, I'm assuming it's Aruba?


message 9: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy Friend | 3 comments 1) Yes i do feel more forgiving towards my practice. I haven't practiced in more than a year. I have had many big life changes and haven't made myself a priority. I miss Yoga and how it makes my mind and body feel. I am done beating myself up about it and ready to start my practice again.

2). Yes I do believe it and it is something I have been working on. When I was practicing yoga it calmed my mind and made me appreciate what I had and able to appreciate the moment. I didn't live in my mind and worry about everything instead of enjoying it. I miss that and this is really motivating me to get back on the mat.

3)I totally agree with her. I have made most of my decisions in life based on love and fear. Actually most of my decisions have been based on fear and it keeps me living in fear. I want to live in the moment and make a decision and not over anaylze it.

4) I have some rituals that I do in the morning. I find comfort in them. Eating the same breakfast is one of them. It calms me I also like quiet in the morning. I recently moved in with my BF and he is quite chatty and I find it annoying. I am working on that. I find myself rushed most days and it isn't a good way to start the day. I need to get up earlier and start the day more calmly. I used to drink lemon water and will start that again.

5). I think she shared that part of her life to show how she overcame her bad behaviors to making good behaviors. I think it showed she was a totally different person back then. It made me think my life wasn't that bad. I found it amazing that meditation gave her the tools to cope. She changed from creating chaos and drama to creating peace. I have a hard time forgiving myself and it is needed to move on. I needed to hear that simple fact.

6) I was surprised at her mothers decision. As a parent I wouldn't of thought of something like that. It was life changing for her and such a simple solution.

7). I think it makes a difference but I also think it is where your mind is at. If you are open to new experiences you will expirence them no matter what environment you are in. If the environment isn't working you can change that.
The most exotic place I have practiced yoga is in my back yard. I have been on a beach in the Bahamas but was too intimidated to practice. I know now that it doesn't matter and I should of just did what poses felt right to me and enjoyed the moment.

8. My take on that is don't be mean or cruel but don't let other people dictate or manipulate how you should feel or what you should do.

9). I like the format of the book. It breaks up the reading. It gives a lot of information.

10). No I haven't really learned anything new but it is nice to read the correct form and information about the poses since it has been awhile since I practiced.


message 10: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica (jessicatopper) | 74 comments Mod
So many wonderful comments and observations!

Karissa, that is a great quote you shared, and if you don't mind, I am going to share it in the "Favorite Lines" thread in this folder. Anyone else with a favorite line, feel free to post over there!

Nancy, Alaska sounds pretty darn exotic to me! I would think you generated some heat, practicing yoga there.

Brathen hasn't talked about her mother beyond divorces, the very tragic of her second husband and the suicide attempt. I do wonder if her mother was exposed to meditation during her healing process and that is why she urged Rachel to go.

I thought it was pretty empowering when she commented that changing these behaviors didn't make her a "different" person - instead she was chipping away at the hard exterior to find the masterpiece hidden beneath. For people who feel like there is no hope of change, that is a nice reminder. It's inside us all.

Like many of you, I got used to the format after a while, but it did pull me out of Rachel's "story" at the beginning. I think the poses she chooses to include at the end of each chapter aren't random - cleansing twists during the chapter about making peace with her past, etc. So it does have a nice flow.

One thing I never knew, that I learned from her pose descriptions: my teacher always has us roll to our right side after Savasana and I never thought about why. But I like Brathen's explanation: Your heart is on your left, so when you "come back to life" after Corpse pose, you rise with your heart first, letting your heart lead the way. I love the thought of that.

If everyone is on board, we can tackle chapters 4 and 5 next, with question prompts to follow this Sunday. And hopefully that will give some of the others time to catch up if they are just getting the book. Keep the comments coming! :)


message 11: by Meryl (new)

Meryl Landau (meryldavidslandau) | 808 comments Mod
Interesting discussion! I haven't yet had a chance to start the book, but it sounds interesting. It also sounds very straightforward and earnest; would it have benefitted, do you think, by a little humor or levity?


message 12: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica (jessicatopper) | 74 comments Mod
Good question, Meryl. She definitely comes across as very genuine, and very much a straight-shooter. While she doesn't use humor, she has an inviting, welcoming tone. Especially when she tells us it's okay to do yoga and still eat ice cream. :)


Linda Belmont | 16 comments 1. I love the tone of acceptance and forgiveness in this book. It's all about positivity, which is great. I definitely feel more forgiving of myself as a result.
2. I feel that "real" yogis are human and do their best. Going with the flow is the goal.
3. I don't know if love and/or fear are the only catalysts for wanting to change. My incentive to change comes more from a desire to be in charge of my own life. What would you call that? Difficult question.
4. I love morning rituals. Every morning I have my coffee (a simple pleasure of mine) and go to my yoga room to read, meditate, journal and do yoga. Perfect start of the day for me.
5. Opening up about her early life illuminates her journey. It surprised me. It change my perception of her. It humanize a her.
6. The therapeutic retreat saved her life. Her mother was wise.
7. I feel that being in a totally new environment is the best way to make lasting change. When I go to my ashram for a week-end, it reminds me of why I have the goals that I do. The ashram is in New York State, so I wouldn't exactly call it exotic, but being there fills me with serenity and peace. My guru is there in spirit. Geographically speaking, I took a yoga class on the beach in Puerto Rico once.
8. Do no harm, but do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of. I agree.
9. I love the set-up of the book. A little bit of everything. I consider this a reference book which I will wear out and have to get a new one.
10. I can't say that I have learned any new poses, but I like the routines. I use them as guides for my morning practice. At my age (58) I have given up on ever doing a handstand, but I love the pictures of Rachel doing them.


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