Honey Dew Review | JUNE 2023 | Yoke

Honey Dew Review | JUNE 2023 | Yoke

Yoke by Jessamyn Stanley packs a punch for such a short book. While ostensibly about yoga, Yoke is about much more, including racism, self-hatred, and the process of learning to accept and cherish oneself. 

Yoke discusses going beyond the physical, learning to trust in your essence, and finding ways to know yourself as more than just what you present on the outside. In Yoke, Stanley says, "Gradually, for one reason or another, your body is gonna stop working the way it once did. And as your skin wrinkles and sags, you'll be forced to reckon with what lies underneath it all. And the wisdom you've gained from that inevitable reckoning will always trump the naïve glory of your physicality.”
                    ― Jessamyn Stanley, Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance

Yoke is a collection of essays on a wide variety of subjects, including fatness, colonization, and consumerism. Stanley's writing is both heartfelt and relevant. She has a remarkable ability to look at something and discuss the many facets involved. For example, she discusses how powerful yoga is for her while acknowledging (and rightly criticizing) the consumer-focused culture that can arise around the practice. She is an author with her eyes wide open and she's here to help us open our eyes as well. You don't need a designer mat and a five-star yoga teacher to practice yoga. Yoga is a personal journey, and that's the point, it is much more than perfect poses or a million matching yoga sets. 

Stanley talks about the accessibility of yoga as well, reminding the reader that the obsession with perfect poses is perhaps flawed. Yoga is a personal journey, one we do not need to be thin or wealthy for. You can practice yoga in your living room while stoned and naked, falling out of every pose you attempt, and your yoga practice is still valid and powerful. 

We will admit Yoke was not always a comfortable read. As white women with inherent privilege, this book forced us to face our socialized and deeply internalized white supremacy. Having spent many years trying to educate ourselves and having always believed in Black Lives Matter and the equality of all individuals, we had grown to believe we had moved past racism within ourselves. Yoke reminded us that we still have areas where we can be more aware and where we can improve. The reality is, overcoming racism and the impact of colonization is a never-ending journey and to believe you've "overcome racism" is, in a way, toxic in itself. The work is constant and important and Stanley reminded us of that in her writing. Furthermore, Yoke reminds us that the goal is not always to be comfortable, that there is growth in discomfort, and better to sit with it and learn from it than try and push it aside all the time or say it doesn't apply to us. 

Overall, this is an excellent read covering a wide breadth of important topics. If you are looking for a step-by-step how-to-practice yoga book, this is not it. However, if you want a refreshing and honest read about a journey to claiming self-love and acceptance in American culture, with explorations into the many sicknesses within said culture, including white supremacy, fatphobia, and obsessive consumerism- we highly recommend this book. Yoke also discusses mediation, how marijuana can serve to enhance a yogic practice/self-acceptance, astrology, and being brave enough to define the boundaries of your own journey. We told you it packs a punch! 

The Honey Dew Review gives Yoke 4.7 out of 5 stars. To see what our star ratings mean, see below:

⭐️ Not a book we recommend 
⭐️⭐️ Decent story/some good content, but lacking substance or writing skill 
⭐️⭐️⭐️ Well done; good quality writing or research, a worthwhile read
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Extremely well done; well written with excellent story/content
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Breakthrough work that stands out from the crowd, resulting in personal growth by the reader 


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