Tales from the Yoga Studio

A Novel

by Rain Mitchell

It’s surprising that, with the popularity of yoga in the last few years, there aren’t more novels about it. So, I was happy to pick up a copy of Tales from the Yoga Studio.  

Set in the trendy neighborhood of Silver Lake in Los Angeles, this book follows the women’s fiction formula of focusing on five characters (it’s usually three or four), their striking differences, and the one thing that unites them (in this case, yoga).

Lee is the owner of Edendale Yoga and serves as the rock for this small community while hiding her own turmoil.  The other four women are Lee’s students at the studio and each coming to terms with major decisions in their lives. While I loved the diversity (economic, racial, etc.) of the women, the character development was not very great so I had a hard time connecting to any of them.

My favorite part of the book, though, was the secondary plot that focused on the commercialization and corporate takeover of the yoga industry. The debate (that mirrors one ongoing in the current yoga world) about what is a “pure” yoga experience and should it be practiced in a neighborhood studio or a chain was an interesting one.

*Sidenote:  One of the characters, Imani, was African-American and there was a passage attributed to her that rubbed me the wrong way:

Race: Let’s just say that even though black men are, on the whole, a pain in the ass, usually carrying around a chip on their shoulders and pathologically commitmentphobic, she has to admit she’s always melted under the gaze of a brother’s big brown eyes.

Maybe I’m being a little too sensitive (I can be sometimes), and if this book was written by an African-American author I probably wouldn’t have a problem with it, but this made me feel some kind of way.
What do you think? 

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