Tag Archives: downward dog mystery

The Challenge of Saying Goodbye

Hands released into the sky to the white dove

September was a tough month for me, on many levels. My dog’s health started to fail; my own wasn’t that much better. We had a minor flood at the studio, and my husband managed to bring home every virus in the greater Seattle area. We’re all doing much better now, knock on wood.

But throughout the challenges of last month, one constant remained: writing. I sent an early draft of my third book, Karma Can Be Killer, to my agent and editor on September 20th. October 3rd, A Killer Retreat went off to my publisher for its final, final edits. (Which means that I have to trust that what I’ve written will be “good enough.”)

Once they were floating on the Internet ether, I found myself in that achingly empty zone between writing and feedback. I love my two newest creations, but will my readers? And if they don’t…

I try not to think about that. 😉

Instead, I look around my shamefully messy home, feeling slightly off kilter, My 500-hour yoga teacher training program winds up in January. The next 200-training starts a few weeks later. In less than a month, I’ll be eyebrows deep in book launch activities for second book while writing revisions of my third.

Friends tell me to sit back and take a breather. My husband says I should finally pick up a vacuum. Instead, I spend my days pondering. What should I do next? I won’t know if Midnight Ink plans to renew my first series for at least six months, maybe even a year. Should I continue writing Kate’s story and trust it will find a publishing home? Maybe I ought to start the Maui-based series that’s been tickling me? Perhaps it’s time to play with the Orcas Island-based spinoff that has been rattling around in my head for almost two years now?

Then again, I could experiment with nonfiction. A friend recently told me I should write the true story of my life with Tasha-dog; two veterinarians suggested the same thing. She’s certainly taught me life lessons that I’d like to pass on to the next generation. Then again, if I’m going to make my living as an author, perhaps it’s time to take my first writing class.

I’m sure it won’t be long before something fills the void, but in the meantime I’m content to float for awhile, daydreaming. That’s the beauty of writing. I create my own worlds, fall in love with my characters, and have the privilege of saying goodbye over and over and over again. It’s not much different than birthing a child, or certifying a yoga teacher training class, for that matter.

As I stand at the crossroads, I only know one thing. Whatever comes next will sometimes be frustrating, sometimes frightening, sometimes fulfilling. Please wish me luck on the journey.

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere! 

Yoga for Imperfect Bodies

I’ve spent the weekend answering press questions for the release of my next book, A Killer Retreat. Most of them were about writing, but one seemed particularly relevant to my yoga blog readers.  Here’s the question and my answer.  I hope you benefit from reading it.

How can yoga be applied to people with imperfect bodies? Is yoga really about exercise or something else?

Two thoughts came to me when I read these two questions:  First, I’ve yet to come across a human being with a perfect body, either inside or outside of my yoga classes. Second, my favorite yoga quote is “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.” Yoga is ultimately the connection of body, breath and mind. Anyone can do it, and everyone can benefit from a well-designed yoga practice.

I’ve taught yoga to professional ballet dancers, tri-athletes, and weekend warriors. I’ve certified yoga teachers who have multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. I’ve taught kids as young as six (others teach students who are even younger!) and adults who are ninety-years-old plus.  I’ve taught students who were deaf, blind, and one who was both deaf and blind. I’ve taught group classes to students who use canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. I know of yogis who have no arms; others who have lost both legs. I have yet to find a student who couldn’t do some form of yoga, if it was appropriately modified.

Yoga as a form of exercise is a Western idea.  Its origins were more closely aligned with clarifying and balancing the mind.  Physical fitness was simply a cool side benefit.  We often confuse yoga in the West with asana (yoga postures), which is only one of many tools of yoga. Yoga encompasses that and so much more: meditation, pranayama, ritual, chant, right relationship, and so on.  So yes, anyone and everyone can benefit from doing yoga.

Even asana, which is the simplest of yoga’s tools, can be done by anyone if appropriately modified.  That’s what I love so much about Viniyoga, the style of yoga that Kate—the yoga teacher sleuth in my series—and I both teach.  The word viniyoga means “proper application and adaptation.”

In Viniyoga, we adapt poses to the individual. The goal is to work within a pain-free range of motion with the goal of increasing that pain-free range of motion over time. My most rewarding work as a teacher is helping students learn how to move in a pain-free way, both during practice and out in their daily lives.

Regardless of age, body type, injury, fitness level, or goals, yoga is a tool that that can help anyone.  If you try a class and it doesn’t work for your body, try another! There are dozens of yoga styles, each different from the rest. There are at least a gazillion yoga teachers.  I truly believe there is yoga for everyone.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere! 

Time off, Blog Tours, and the Uniqueness of Viniyoga

As many of you know, I’m on a five-week-long sabbatical from teaching yoga.  This isn’t a vacation—it’s a chance to devote myself to my writing. You see, writing a book (or books!) is only the first step.  Right now I’m in different parts of the publishing process for three. I’m deeply immersed in a one–month blog tour for my first book, Murder Strikes a Pose, working with my publicists to plan for the launch of my second, A Killer Retreat, and finishing up the second draft of my third book, tentatively titled Karma can be Killer.  Whew!

Part of the fun of this sometimes-overwhelming flurry of activity is getting the chance to share the principles of yoga with people who might otherwise never even consider it.  I have fans (those three words alone give me a thrill!) who have taken their first yoga class after reading my first book.  Others have recommitted to a yoga practice they dropped years ago.  Still others are asking me for coaching and yoga advice.

I’m having a great time.

This week’s blog article invites you to share in the fun.  Check out the article I wrote for The Top Shelf about Viniyoga in “Kate Davidson’s Guide to Yoga (with a little Murder on the Side).”  As an added bonus, you can enter to win a free Kindle!  Here’s a quote from the article to whet your appetite….

“The beauty of Viniyoga lies in its accessibility, which is part of what makes it so perfect for a mystery series. You don’t have to be ultra flexible or super fit to partake, just willing to be more mindful in everyday life. For those of you curious, the following four characteristics differentiate Viniyoga from other yoga styles….”

You’ll have to click on the link to the article to read the rest.  😉

Thanks all!  I’ll see you in September.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere! 

Do You Practice Hatha Yoga?

I recently sat next to a very kind gentleman on an airplane for a six-hour flight back to Seattle from Malice Domestic (a mystery fan convention.). I don’t think he knew I was a yoga teacher, especially since he spent a good thirty minutes educating me about the benefits of yoga. Of course, I agreed with him. Yoga is good stuff. He then said something that made me both externally smile and internally cringe, at least a little. He mentioned that he doesn’t like the more strenuous yoga forms of yoga, and that he only practices “Hatha” yoga.

I didn’t disagree with them. After all, he’s right, in a way. He does practice Hatha yoga. Almost all of us who practice yoga in America do. “Hatha” is an umbrella term that means the physical practice of yoga.  But referring to all yoga as simply “Hatha” is a little misleading. Although there are definite similarities between yoga styles, there are even more differences.

One Hatha yoga class may be practiced at a hundred and five degrees. Another may focus on “proper” alignment. Yet another, on connecting movement and breath. Some Hatha practices flow from pose to pose, while others stay in each posture for a minute or more before moving on to the next. Teachers of some styles teach the exact same sequence of poses each time. Some classes, like most Viniyoga classes, are designed in the moment based on what the practitioners need that day.

When you sign up for your first yoga class—or next, for that matter—ask the instructor what style they teach and explore with them whether that style will fit your goals. If the teacher says they teach “Hatha,” dig deeper. What lineages has she been influenced by? Who did she train with? Does she believe form follows function or the reverse? Her answers will help you find the right practice for you.

Most importantly, if you don’t like the first yoga class you try, take another. There’s a yoga style, teacher, and philosophy that fits everyone.

This article from Yoga Journal is a great starting place to explore the options available.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere! 

A Yoga Teacher by Any Other Name….

Long before the first book in my Downward Dog Mystery series arrived at your local bookstore, my mother received a personal laser-printed copy of Murder Strikes a Pose. Of course she told me she liked it.  What self-respecting mother wouldn’t? One of her comments caught me off guard, however.

“I’m not very far into the book yet. I just reached the part where you found the body.”

“Mom,” I replied, a little concerned about her sudden decline in mental health. “You do know this is fiction, right?”

Let me assure you, I have never found a body near Whole Life Yoga—or anywhere else for that matter. And although a part of me exists in every character, my books aren’t autobiographical. Still, people often tell me that they see me in my yoga teacher sleuth, Kate Davidson. So, for the record, here are some ways Kate and I are similar—and different.

Similarities

1.      We both own yoga studios in Seattle.

Kate and I both teach yoga in the Viniyoga tradition, and we both prefer it to other, more strenuous, types of yoga. Although we both own small neighborhood yoga studios, mine (Whole Life Yoga) is dedicated to the Viniyoga lineage. Kate’s (Serenity Yoga) offers a mixture of yoga classes and styles.

2.      Kate and I both have body image issues.

Kate and I are both short, and we both have “normal” body types (whatever that means). But when we look in the mirror, we see the “before” image in a Jenny Craig commercial. We’re working on that.

3.      Kate and I both live with a horse-sized German shepherd.

Kate fosters Bella, the German shepherd in the series; I am owned by a German shepherd named Tasha. Both of our dogs have Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, will weigh over 100 pounds when full grown, and have, shall we say, “quirky” personalities. But in spite of their issues, Kate and I would be lost without them.

4.      Neither Kate nor I are perfect yogis, but we keep trying.

Occasionally a reader tells me that Kate isn’t believable as a yoga teacher. She’s not thin enough, emotionally well-balanced enough, or flexible enough. I’m not a typical yoga teacher, either. Kate can’t do advanced yoga poses; neither can I. Kate wants to live according to yoga philosophy but often fails. So do I. If Kate’s not a realistic yoga teacher, then I’m not either. Hopefully my yoga students won’t figure that out any time soon.

Here’s Where We’re Different:

1.      I’m not afraid of commitment.

Kate has what she terms “relationship ADD,” meaning she can’t stick with a relationship for more than a date or two.  I, on the other hand, seek commitment. Just ask my husband. I pestered and goaded and hounded him for three years before he finally gave in and asked me to marry him. (Frankly, I think he proposed just so I’d shut up about it.)

2.      Kate and I had different childhoods.

Kate was raised as the only child of a single-parent Seattle cop. I grew up with both of my parents on a dairy farm in Billings, Montana. Kate’s a city girl through and through. I’m a farm girl who has taken root in the city.

3.      My neuroses are different than Kate’s.

I’m as neurotic is the next yoga teacher, but I’m neutral to facial hair. Kate has a very real phobia called pogonophobia. Being near a man with a beard makes her feel anxious, itchy, and subtly nauseated, which really sucks for her since she has a crush on Michael, the bearded owner of Pete’s Pets, the pet store near her studio.

4.      I adore dogs to a fault.

Kate likes animals, but she never wanted one of her own. I, on the other hand, yearned and planned and plotted for over ten years before my husband gave in and agreed to adopt our German shepherd. And unlike Kate, I knew that cute little fur ball would be the love of my life the moment I laid eyes on her.

To be honest, personality-wise, I’m think I’m closer to Rene, Kate’s best friend: a plotter, a jokester, a prankster, a conniver. Unlike Kate, I don’t throw coffee mugs at the heads of little old ladies, and it’s pretty rare for me to yell at anyone.

I’m too busy plotting murder.

Tracy Weber

A Killer RetreatCome visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere!

Announcing A KILLER RETREAT!

Hi all!  I’m absolutely delighted  to announce the cover and publication date of my second Downward Dog Mystery, A KILLER RETREAT.  The book is in the final stages of editing now, and my publisher has finalized the cover.

What do you think? 

Available January 8, 2015 from Midnight Ink!

Available January 8, 2015 from Midnight Ink!

Leave a comment about the cover in the next week for a chance to win a Downward Dog Mysteries coffee mug!

The book will be out January 8, 2015, but I’ll likely have copies again in late December.  Why wait?  Pre-order your personalized, autographed copy from Whole Life Yoga now, and I’ll mail you a signed bookmark as soon as they are available!

ABOUT A KILLER RETREAT

Six months after solving her friend’s murder, commitment-challenged Kate Davidson has recovered from her injuries and settled into a relatively calm life with rambunctious German shepherd Bella. Now, if only her relationship with boyfriend, Michael, would slow down to match her laid-back yogic lifestyle…

When Kate gets an offer to trade teaching yoga for a weeklong stay at a newly reopened vegan retreat center, she jumps at the opportunity, even though it means being forced to endure the wedding ceremony of the center’s two caretakers. Avoiding the M-word turns out to be the least of Kate’s problems when a wedding guest is found floating face-down in the resort’s hot tub, shortly after a loud, public (and somewhat embarrassing) fight with Kate.

The police pick Kate as their number-one suspect, so she’s forced to join forces with Michael, best friend Rene, and sidekick Bella to find the real killer. But they’ll have to solve the murder before the police arrest Kate, or her next gig may last a lifetime—behind bars.

REVIEWS

“An engaging mystery full of fun and fascinating characters and unexpected twists.  An intriguing read that includes yoga lessons and feisty dogs.”

Linda O. Johnston Author of the Pet Rescue Mysteries

“Fans   of Tracy Weber’s charming Murder Strikes a Pose have eagerly awaited   the return of yoga instructor Kate Davidson and her challenging yet   lovable German shepherd, Bella.  Happily, Weber’s second yoga mystery, A Killer Retreat, is as delightful as her first. Readers will love the   setting, the complex mystery, and the romance of Kate’s second   adventure. Especially noteworthy in this popular series is the appealing   combination of strength and vulnerability that Kate and Bella share.   Enjoy!”

Susan Conant     Author of the Dog Lover’s Mysteries

“Whether yoga instructor, Kate Davidson, is wrestling her hundred-pound dog, her new love life or trying to solve a murder, A Killer Retreat is simply a killer read! Witty, fun and unpredictable, this is one cozy mystery worth barking about!”

Shannon Esposito   Author of the Pet Psychic Mysteries

Thanks!

Tracy

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. The first book in the series,  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere!

Airports, Conventions, and Karma: a Horror Story.

“Above all, be kind.  You have the power to bring someone hope, if only for a moment.”—David Wagner

As some of you know, I recently had a Stephen King-like horror experience traveling to a mystery convention in California. It started with a series of airline errors that left me stranded at the Los Angeles airport and ended with my ticket back home to Seattle accidentally being deleted by the same airline. In between, my luggage was lost, I was unable to sleep due to recurring travel-related nightmares, and I had a still-confusing incident with a fellow writer who I can only describe as the adult version of the “mean girls” I dealt with in high school.

But that’s not what this blog is about. This blog is about karma. I don’t claim to understand all of the yoga teachings, but I do have a concept of karma. Karma indicates that actions have consequences, not just to others, but to ourselves. Simply put, the law of karma promises that the actions we take in this life will have repercussions in the next.

Who knows if it’s true? As much as I’d love to have a future-life “do-over” to correct my mistakes, I can only say one thing for certain: the kindness of several people stood out this past weekend, and I appreciate them: a baggage claim clerk who went out of his way to explain what had happened to me in LA; a young person who helped an elderly gentleman place his luggage into the overhead compartment on the plane back to Seattle; a TSA employee who treated a Middle Eastern man with kindness and respect when his ID didn’t match his travel documents.

None of this seems major, but it was all yogic, and it was huge to the people it helped. Being kind doesn’t take much.  A smile, a “please sit down and join us,” a “I don’t know what happened, but I’ll try to help.”  The kindness you show others may have repercussions that are more powerful than you will ever realize.

Five authors made my awful weekend a little brighter, simply by making me feel welcome when others did not. There are a gazillion talented writers out there.  Great human beings are harder to come by. I’m already a fan of these authors, and you can bet I’ll be buying more of their books. Please join me.

Has someone made your day a little brighter?  If so, please share the story in a comment!

Tracy

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and bookstores everywhere!

Is Happiness a Choice?

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”
Dalai Lama XIV

I had a tough week last week. Not terrible, certainly not tragic.  It was simply a week filled with snippets of bad news, a small but steady trickle of minor disappointments, and a mind filled with fears of a future that hopefully won’t materialize.

On one particularly challenging day, I found myself crying more often than not.  Breath practices, meditations, even walking my dog—nothing really helped.  My mind simply needed the catharsis of tears.

When my husband came home from work, we decided to go out for dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant.  I always look forward to eating there, not just for the food, but because of the staff, particularly one always-bubbly waitress.

Shortly after we sat down, she bounced up to our table with her usual sparkle, seeming–as always–happy to see us.  She leaned down to fill our water glasses and asked, “How are you two doing tonight?”

Afraid I might burst into tears if I lied, I answered with the truth.

The resulting conversation surprised me.  When I told her that I’d had a rotten week and was feeling blue, she replied that her week had been awful too, and that such feelings are common for her.

I won’t bore you with the details.  Suffice it to say that I told her I was surprised because she always seemed so happy.  She replied with a single sentence.

“I believe happiness is a choice.”

Immediately, I knew she was right. I would only make one revision: “Happiness is a choice, just not an easy one.”

The yoga teachings never promised that life would be easy. Our hopes won’t always be realized. People may treat us unkindly. Frankly, sometimes life seems unfair as hell. We can’t control that.

But we can choose to be happy anyway.

We can look for the small things that give us joy.  We can greet relative strangers as if seeing them were the highlight of our day. We can cry for a day—or a week—if we need to, then wake up again, determined to find and create joy.

It’s not always easy. Frankly, smiling through the rest of that dinner took a lot more effort than dissolving into tears.  But I realized that my attitude had impact: on my world as well as on me personally.

Here is my learning for the week: I can wear my heartache like a lead-lined raincoat, or I can hang it in the closet, go back out into the world, and search for all of the positive, wonderful, amazing things that give me joy. Today, I choose to be happy.

What will you choose?

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!