Monday, September 22, 2014

Can Yoga Really Be Murder?

Photo Courtesy of Christopher Brown
How do you reconcile writing both about yoga (which advocates nonviolence) and murder?

I was recently asked this question when talking about the second book in my Downward Dog Mystery series, A Killer Retreat.
This is such an interesting question, and one that I’ve only been asked a handful of times. First, I’ll say my genre, cozy mysteries, helps.  By convention, gore and on-the-page violence are minimized. There are definitely some tense and challenging scenes, however. I try to balance them with humor.

But even if I wrote horror, I could still combine murder and yoga in the same work. The yoga teachings never promise that yogis will live in a world without violence. In fact, they say that suffering is inevitable. What they do promise is that people who practice yoga—which is so much more than doing poses—will be able to survive life’s traumas with less emotional suffering.  They also ask that yogis personally practice compassion, honesty, and nonviolence in actions, words, and thoughts.

Yoga practitioners, like everyone else, live in the real world. We are exposed to the same triggers and conflicts and traumas. Yoga doesn’t stop what happens around us; it simply gives us choices in how we react to it. So it’s not a big stretch (so to speak) to have violence, tension and other challenges in the world of a yoga teacher. In an ideal world, she would simply be better prepared to deal with them.

But the truth is Kate—my yoga sleuth—doesn’t live in an ideal world, and she doesn’t always react like the perfect yogi. She has a terrible temper, and she often acts impulsively, only to regret it later. When Kate’s at her best, she responds to the tension and heartache in her world with self-deprecating humor and compassion. When she’s at her worst, she lashes out in sometimes embarrassing ways.

Overall, Kate tries to be compassionate and generous. She helps others when it would be much easier not to.  When she screws up, which is often, she tries to learn from her mistakes and to do better in the future.

To me, that is yoga.
What do you think?  Can a book contain both yoga and murder while still being loyal to both the mystery and the teachings?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

About Tracy:

My writing is an expression of the things I love best: yoga, dogs, and murder mysteries. I'm a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, WA. I enjoy sharing my passion for yoga and animals in any form possible.  My husband and I live with our challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha and our bonito flake-loving cat Maggie. When I’m not writing, I spend my time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at my favorite local ale house.

For more information, visit me online at and

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