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Can Yoga Cure Perfectionism? Claire Dederer on a "Poser" Life24:16

This article is more than 10 years old.

We look at the new memoir “Poser" — one woman’s search for personal balance in a difficult world.

Author Claire Dederer in a "wheel" pose (Courtesy of Claire Dederer)
Author Claire Dederer in a "wheel" pose (Courtesy of Claire Dederer)

By Tom Ashbrook

Thirty-something new mom Claire Dederer wanted to get right everything her mother got wrong. Her mom, she thought, was a messy child of 1970’s women’s liberation – leaving her father for a love bead-wearing hippie eight years her junior.

Dederer decided she would be the perfect mother.

“We, the mothers of North Seattle, were consumed with trying to do everything right,” she writes in her new memoir, Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses.

Dederer says she chased virtue on every front – and it made her crazy and miserable.

"Breast-feeding was simply the first item in a long, abstruse to-do list," she says,  '"cook organic food, buy expensive wooden toys, create an enriching home environment, attend parenting lectures, sleep with your child in your bed, ensure that your house was toxin free, use cloth diapers, carry your child in a sling, make your own baby food, dress your child in organic fibers, join a baby group so your child could develop peer attachments.”

Then she found yoga – skeptically. “Porny,” she first thought. “White people seeking self-transformation.”

Then she got it. And it helped, she says. The peace. The poses. Downward dog. Lotus. Child’s pose. Half moon.

“We don’t have to constantly be leveraging our experiences to get somewhere," she says. "We can just be doing it, and enjoying it at the moment.”

Posture and "poses" took on a whole new meaning for her.

“My (yoga) teacher was talking about this idea that she was a hunchy person,” Dederer says. “She was talking about how she hunches her shoulders all the time. She had thought yoga was going to cure her from being such a hunched-up person. But she kept hunching, except for that one hour a day when she was in yoga. She was talking about how we don’t need to be using yoga to become higher, better people. We can just enjoy its benefits for that hour that we’re in the room.”


Claire Dederer, contributor to the New York Times, Vogue, Real Simple, The Nation, New York, Yoga Journal, Slate, and Salon. Her new book is Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses.

A yoga class in Cancun, Mexico, 2009 (AP)
A yoga class in Cancun, Mexico, 2009 (AP)

This program aired on January 11, 2011.

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