Girlvana: Self-Love, Yoga, and Making a Better World—A Handbook by Alex Mazerolle
“The heaviness I had been carrying for years seemed to disappear. I felt truly met, seen, and loved. I finally had a relationship with myself, one that was kind and truthful and honoring.”
A handbook for the self—a compassionate, honest, and personal guide to empowering yourself, and others, for a safer and more inclusive world.
Sometimes you may feel alone, and like you don't fit in — because you don't look like other people, or because you're not the "right" size or shape or skin color. It's tough to feel like you belong when so many things, like social media and the internet, are telling you that you don't.
Using the ancient teachings of yoga and the foundations of meditation and breathwork, this book will help you to explore yourself from the outside in.
My first thought was, this is a book for all of us humans who don’t believe we fit in. I say that from the perspective of a person who constantly feels singled out, from the perspective of someone from a minority group, from the perspective of a male reading a book targeted towards females, and from the perspective, like Alex, of a trained yoga teacher.
I’ll use yoga as an example since it comes to mind. The number of people who have told me that they’re scared to go to a yoga class for fear of being shamed, scared of not being good enough. Not being enough. Those words play constantly on my mind, not enough.
When I read this book, the words playing at the end of the song in my mind were, you are enough. And although this book starts out with a letter that begins with, dear girls, I took a lot away from it, more than I thought I would. Although the word girl, woman, female, and lady, is used many times throughout, I don’t believe this one is just for the women, and think Ally Maz is selling herself short here by assuming so.
Ally knows who her readers and followers are, and I know they will benefit a huge amount from reading this book, but for the guys out there, you will too.
There are a lot of similarities between mine and Ally’s stories, which just made me feel like I could relate a lot more to her. Both of us finding the power of yoga to combat our anxieties, disordered eating, and self-hatred. And the two of us competitive dancers. Even though I’m a male, and she’s a female, we’re two souls, both in serious need of self-love and compassion.
Reading her story, I feel as though I am reading my own, and it’s frightening in some senses. Both the same age when we discovered yoga, me in Los Angeles, her in Vancouver.
|Courtesy of Ally Maz|
This book was the light I needed for where I’m at in my life right now, as I move through my own journey of learning self-compassion. One thing I’ve learned so far is, it’s not easy to love yourself and there will be tears. But Ally says in her new book, “never apologize for crying. When we apologize for crying, we are implying we are ashamed of our emotions and that our tears are unacceptable.”
I read back on an entry I wrote in my journal last week, “the cup is full and the emotions are flowing. Pouring out of me like lava. Erupting. Like never before. I cannot stop crying.” I realize that my automatic reaction when I cry is to apologize, as I think back to the call with my therapist right before that entry, when I cried, and then apologized profusely. In my mind, I was no longer perfect for crying. This book was a reminder that it’s okay to cry, it will happen, and I will try not to be ashamed of it, because my tears are not unacceptable.
Girlvana by Ally Maz is so much more than a handbook or self-help book, it’s an illuminated sign post on a dark stormy night, there to guide you through not only the tough times, but also the good ones. It’s bursting at the spine with inspiration, not just for the girls, but for everyone. There’s an abundance of information, like breathing exercises for those times when you feel like you might just explode, and so much advice on mindfulness and meditation.
Each chapter includes tips, yoga asanas (postures), and deeply moving short stories, where Alex has truly opened herself up. There's space at the end where Alex asks her readers contemplative questions and leaves spaces for answers. Wherever you are in your journey, this book will meet you there.