Five unforgettable women. One beloved yoga studio. A million tales to tell. Lee is a caring yoga teacher who changes lives and inspires friendships. But a year after the breakup of her marriage, she’s struggling to raise her twins and make ends meet at her small studio in LA’s trendy Silver Lake. The California yoga scene is dominated by celebrity teachers with agents, publicists, and other trappings Lee has rejected. When she’s offered a teaching stint at a highprofile yoga festival at Lake Tahoe, she has to choose between standing by her principlesand those of the man she’s just started datingand the lure of becoming a “star. ” It would be an easier choice if her four best friends could join her, but each has problems of her own.
Katherine, a masseuse with a troubled past, is being evicted from the only real home she’s ever had.
Graciela, a dancer, is in New York trying to hide her affair with a famous baseball player from her volatile boyfriend.
Imani is a TV actress coping with motherhood as she’s struggling to make a comeback in film.
Stephanie, a screenwriter, is trying to come to terms with a very unexpected relationship.Head Over Heels explores the burgeoning world of commercialized yoga with the warmth, humor, and insider knowledge that won Rain Mitchell’s Tales from the Yoga Studio raves from critics and yogis, and made the book an international success.
Rain Mitchell (a pseudonym) began practicing yoga as a teenager, and is currently at work on the second Yoga Novel. Rain's favorite pose is savasana.
A CONVERSATION WITH RAIN MITCHELL
Q. Head Over Heels contains multiple, interwoven storylines. How do you go about mapping out each character’s path? What challenges did you face in juggling so many stories?
The truth is, I didn’t have anything mapped out before I started to write. I knew the characters would all end up at the yoga festival in the Sierras, but I had no idea how they’d get there or what would happen to them when they did. One of the pleasures of writing for me is discovering things about the characters as I go along. I hate when writers wax mystical about their process, but in some ways, I do feel as if the characters tell me their stories. When I was writing about Stephanie flying to New York to visit Sybille, I had no idea she was going to spot Graciela’s boyfriend in the back of the plane. She walked to the back of the plane to stretch her legs, and there he was. Having written two books about these characters, I feel as if I know them pretty well. If something comes up that doesn’t feel true to them, it’s usually me getting in the way by trying to make a plot point.Q. Yoga lies at the heart of this novel. What aspects of yoga inspire you? What message about yoga do most want your readers to walk away with?
I began doing yoga when I was a teenager. I thought of it purely as a form of exercise, with a little added hippieish overlay that appealed to me. I liked feeling more flexible and balanced, and once I began doing Ashtanga and more athletic forms, I loved the strength it gave me. The other benefitsbetter control of my emotions, a more calm approach to problems, a willingness to take on new challengessneaked in there while I was trying to figure out how to stand on my hands. My hope is that readers will come away from the books recognizing how these stealth benefits creep into the lives of the five main characters and change them in unexpected ways. I would truly love it if readers were inspired to give yoga a try, but in the end, my goal is to entertain.Q. Conversely, you seem to critique some aspects of the larger yoga culture. What is your opinion of the commercialized side of yoga? What benefits do you see in that side of it, if any? What would you change about the culture surrounding yoga if you could?
I try not to be dogmatic about anything. The fact that there’s a yoga studio on every other corner of most major cities is a good thing. It gives you options for new classes and different styles of practice. I have 10class passes to about fifteen different studios! It doesn’t matter if someone goes to yoga because they’re on a spiritual quest or because they’re imitating Madonna. What matters is doing it. What I find silly and worthy of satire is the combination of commercialization and a phony, holierthanthou attitude. Kyra, in Head Over Heels, exemplifies this. She calls herself a “priestess” and dresses all in white, but really, she’s just selling her own sex appeal in a crass way. A lot of people in the yoga world lack a sense of humor about themselves, and my feeling is, if you can’t laugh at your own behavior, you’re not being honest with yourself.Q. Each of your characters has to surmount tough, reallife obstacles. Which of these obstacles was most challenging to write about and why?
It’s probably most difficult to write about someone’s inner struggleStephanie’s problems accepting herself, for example. You have to think of ways to dramatize it and put it into action so you’re not just writing someone’s inner musings. Those get old pretty quickly. Graciela’s problems are more violent and explosive. Horrible things to live through, but great fun to write about. In a similar vein, I found it easy and fun to write about Lee’s marriage to her miserable ex husband. The scenes practically wrote themselves. Writing about her infatuation with David Todd was more complicated. I didn’t want it to sound trite or sentimental.Q. What are you working on now? Can we expect more from Lee and the rest of these characters
I’m working on a third novel about the gang at Edendale Yoga. There are a few looses threads I feel I have to tie up. Without being too tidy about it, of course. This time, TV cameras are involved!