Monthly Archives: December 2013

Book Launches, Parties, and Blog Tours, Oh My!

great escape tour banner small murder strikes a pose

January is the launch of my first yoga mystery, Murder Strikes a Pose, and I will be going blog crazy!   Through January 20, my Whole Life Yoga and Killer Hobbies blog posts will be devoted to the blog articles and events below.  After that, it will be back to articles on yoga tips, research, practices, and techniques, with an occasional writing blog thrown in for good measure.

Murder Strikes a pose will be available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and other e-readers as early as January 1.  It will be available online at Amazon as well as retailers and bookstores everywhere on January 8. You can pre-order any time!

Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for sponsoring the blog tour below.  Each stop will provide unique content, so don’t miss any.  You might just learn some of my deep, dark secrets!

A free autographed copy of Murder Strikes a Pose will be given away at each stop!

And, for those of you in Seattle, a couple of in-person events. 

Hugs and prizes will be available at both events–and at Whole Life Yoga, vegan chocolate mousse cake! I hope to see you there!

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 for preorder now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!

And so it begins!

box of books

After what feels like an eternity, I now have copies of Murder Strikes a Pose!  I have to say, I am thrilled.  To launch the series’ beginning, I’d like to share the book’s beginning with all of you.  Take a look at Chapter 1 and let me know what you think!

Murder Strikes a Pose is available now at Whole Life Yoga and will be available at bookstores everywhere in January! Books make great Christmas gifts!  😉


I laid my body on the cool wood floor, covered up with a blanket, and prepared to die.

Metaphorically, that is.

Corpse Pose’s ten-minute rest always soothed my stressed-out nerves, and for once I didn’t feel guilty about the indulgence. My to-do list was blank, Serenity Yoga’s phone was silent, and I had a whole blissful hour between clients to do my favorite activity: practice yoga.

Even my eclectic Greenwood neighborhood seemed uncharacteristically quiet, lulled by Seattle’s rare afternoon sun. The residents of the apartments above the yoga studio were off at their day jobs; the alcohol-addicted patrons of the block’s two dive bars slept off their Jim Beam breakfasts; the soccer moms shopping at next door’s upscale PhinneyWood Market purchased the day’s supplies in unusual silence.

I wiggled my toes under a Mexican blanket, covered my eyes with a blue satin eye pillow, and inhaled deeply. The ooey-gooey smell of Mocha Mia’s chocolate caramel cake wafted from across the street and filled my nostrils with sweet toffee-scented bliss—my all-time favorite aromatherapy.

Paradise. Simply paradise.

I released my weight into the earth and silently coached myself, exactly as I would one of my students. OK, Kate. Feel your body relax. Notice the random fluctuations of your mind and—

A vicious snarl ripped through the silence, startling me out of my catnap. I sat straight up, eye pillow falling to the floor with an undignified thump.

What the heck?

When had a dog fighting ring moved into the neighborhood?

A dog fight was the only plausible explanation for the commotion outside. Bursts of deep, frantic barking were followed by high-pitched yelping, all punctuated by the peace-shattering sounds of angry yelling. The phrases I could make out confirmed my suspicions. This had to be a dog fight, albeit one-sided.

“Control your dog!”

“Get that vicious beast out of here!”

And even a simple, “What the hell?”

I closed the door between the yoga room and the studio’s lobby, hoping to block out the intrusive sounds. Snarls, shouts, and an occasional ear-piercing shriek continued to reverberate right through the wall.

Undaunted, I imagined that the sounds were merely clouds floating across my mental horizon. Most of those clouds were dark and ominous, like the deep thunderclouds preceding a hailstorm. But every so often I heard a soft voice, more like the fluffy clouds of childhood summers. I couldn’t quite make out his words, but I could tell that the speaker was a man. From his tone, I assumed he was trying to calm beasts both human and animal.

It wasn’t working.

Neither, for that matter, was my attempted meditation.

I’d obviously have to shift tactics.

I tried drowning out the clamor with low, soft chanting. Then I increased the volume. But even as I belted out Om Santi, my favorite mantra for peace, I felt my jaw start to tighten. My fingernails bit deeply into my palms. My shoulders crept up to my ears.

An entirely different mantra began pounding through my head: Don’t get me angry; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

A series of yelps and the words “I’m calling the cops!” zapped me like a cattle prod. I leapt from my mat and stormed across the floor, determined to put a stop to that infernal racket. I hurled open the door and came face-to-face, or rather face-to-snout, with the source of the commotion. Not more than five feet away from the studio’s entrance stood a paunchy, dark-haired man and the biggest, skinniest, meanest-looking German shepherd I had ever seen. Don’t get me wrong. I like dogs. I love them, in fact. It’s their human counterparts I could sometimes do without. But this frothing breast was no Rin Tin Tin. A long line of drool oozed from its mouth. Its sharp white teeth glinted in the sunlight, and its black wiry topcoat still stood on end from the prior scuffle. The dog was obviously rabid.

I didn’t recognize the man standing next to the frightening creature, but I did recognize his activity. He worked as a vendor for Dollars for Change, a well-regarded local newspaper that published articles about homelessness and poverty while employing those same homeless individuals as salespeople. Ordinarily I would have welcomed one of their vendors outside my business. If nothing else, supporting the paper demonstrated yoga’s principles of kindness and compassion.

But this was not an ordinary circumstance. I absolutely could not allow that disgusting dog to raise a ruckus outside my studio. The prenatal class would have a fit. Suffice it to say that pregnancy hormones didn’t always leave expecting moms in the best of moods. My moms-to-be liked their yoga practice. They needed their yoga practice. And they needed to be serene while doing it. If a noisy dog fight disturbed their peaceful experience, I’d be the one getting barked at.

Thinking less than yogic thoughts, I marched up to the pair, determined to put a stop to the chaos.

“What in the world’s going on out here?”

The human half of the dastardly duo held a leash in one hand, newspapers in the other. He smiled at me and said, “Sorry about all the noise. I’m George, and this here’s Bella. What’s your name?”

“Kate Davidson, but—”

“Well, nice to meet you, Kate. I’d shake your hand, but mine are full, so Bella will have to do it instead.”

The vicious beast walked up and calmly sniffed my hand. I prayed she wasn’t about to ingest my fingers.

“Bella, say hello!”

Upon hearing her owner’s command, the giant hairy monster-dog immediately went into a perfect sit and sweetly offered me her paw. Maybe she wasn’t rabid after all. Just huge and ill-mannered.

“Don’t mind Bella,” he continued. “She’s very friendly to people. She just doesn’t like other dogs much. She’d be fine if people kept their unruly mutts to themselves, but they think if their rude dog wants to play, Bella has to as well.” He shook his head in disgust. “I don’t understand some people!”

I tried to interrupt, to tell him that his dog was the problem, but he didn’t give me the chance.

“Bella and I are new to this neighborhood, and we’re supposed to sell papers near the market. I tried setting up by the north entrance, but there’s a pet store at that end. Pete’s Pets, I think it’s called? The owner was a nice enough guy and all, but selling there was a disaster with all those dogs going in and out. Bella wasn’t happy at all.” He shrugged. “So I guess we’re going to have to hang out here instead.”

I bit the inside of my lip and considered my options. Up close, George wasn’t exactly the paragon of health I wanted standing outside my business. His friendly smile exposed yellowed teeth in need of significant dental care, and if the sharp, ammonia-like smell was any indication, neither he nor Bella had taken a bath in quite some time. At three-thirty in the afternoon, I could smell whiskey on his breath, and I suspected this most recent drink hadn’t been his first of the day. It would also likely be far from his last. I only knew one thing for certain: if George didn’t frighten my students away, his loud, intimidating, fur-covered companion would.

I needed them to leave, but honestly, I didn’t want to say it out loud. After all, I taught yoga for a living. People expected me to be calm and collected at all times. I wasn’t allowed to be mean, or even irritated, for that matter. I hesitated as I tried to come up with the perfect words to make him want to move, if not out of the neighborhood, then at least across the street.

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), one of my favorite students picked that very moment to walk up with her five-month-old Lab pup, Coalie. “Hey, Kate!” she said. “I hoped I’d run into you! Do you still have space in your Core Strength class tonight?”

Coalie was as rude and friendly as Labs everywhere. She couldn’t stop herself if she tried. She ran up to Bella, wiggling her entire body with glee, and covered Bella’s muzzle in sloppy wet puppy kisses.

Bella wasted no time. Faster than a 747 and stronger than a freight train, Bella pinned Coalie to the ground between her front legs, snarling and air-snapping on either side of Coalie’s neck. I heard the sound of canine teeth chomping together and imagined soft puppy bones shattering between them.

My student screamed. Coalie yelped. George grabbed Bella’s collar while I reached in between razor-sharp teeth to pull Coalie from the jaws of death. The three of us wrestled the two dogs apart, but not before my student almost died of heart failure.

“What’s wrong with you?” she yelled. “Keep that vicious monster away from my baby!”

George quickly apologized, but said, “No damage done. Bella was just teaching that pup some manners.” He pointed at Coalie. “See, it’s all good!”

Coalie, oblivious with joy, seemed unscathed and ready to dive in again. Tail wagging and butt wiggling, she pulled with all her might, trying desperately to get back to Bella.

Bella had other plans. She sat next to George, glaring directly at that pup with a patented Clint Eastwood stare. Go ahead, she seemed to say. Make my day. My soon-to-be-former student ran off as quickly as her legs would move, dragging the still-happy puppy behind her.

“See you in class tonight!” I yelled to her rapidly retreating back. I doubted I’d be seeing her any time soon.

Yoga reputation be damned. I had to get rid of this guy.

I put my hands on my hips and stood nice and tall, taking full advantage of my five-foot-three-inch frame. “Look. I can’t let you stay here with the dog. She’s obviously frightening people. You have to leave.” I paused a moment for emphasis, then added, “Now.”

George stood a little taller, too. “Look yourself, lady. The last time I checked, I’m standing on city property. I have every right to be here. You don’t own this sidewalk, and you can’t stop me from making a living on it.” He glared at me, sharp eyes unblinking. “We Dollars for Change vendors are licensed, and no matter how much you don’t like us, the city says we can be here.”

“There’s no ‘us’ I don’t like,” I replied, frustrated. “It’s your dog. And you may have every right to be here, but the dog is another story. What do you think Animal Control will do if I report a vicious dog attacking people outside my store?”

George stepped back, pulling Bella closer. Seattle had the toughest dangerous dog laws in the nation. We both knew what would happen if I made that call. “You wouldn’t do that!” he said. “Bella’s never hurt anyone.”

I planted my feet stubbornly. “Try me.”

George gave me a wounded look and gathered his papers, shoulders slumped in depressed resignation. “OK, we’ll go. But I thought you yoga people were supposed to be kind.” He shuffled away, shaking his head and mumbling under his breath. Bella followed close by his side.

“Crap,” I muttered, watching their slow departure. “Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.”

He was right. Like all good yoga teachers, I had extensively studied yoga philosophy and tried to live by it. The teachings were clear: A yogi should respond to suffering with active compassion. And George was clearly suffering, whether he realized that fact or not.

Threatening to call the cops on George’s dog may have been active, but it wasn’t all that compassionate, to him or to Bella. I felt like a cad. My solution probably wasn’t what the teachings had in mind, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice.

“Hang on there a minute!” I yelled as I ran to catch up with him. Out of breath, I said, “You’re right. I overreacted, and I’m sorry. How many papers do you have left to sell today?”

George stopped walking. When he turned to look back at me, his eyes sparkled with an unexpected hint of wry humor. “About thirty.”

The calculations weren’t difficult. I wasn’t completely broke—yet—but thirty dollars wasn’t a drop in the bucket. On the other hand, my Monday evening classes were popular, and I had to get this guy away from the front door. Mentally crossing my fingers that the toilet wouldn’t break again, I said, “Wait here. I’ll be right back.” I hurried back to the studio and grabbed thirty dollars from the cash box.

“If I buy all of your papers, will you be done for the day?”

“Yes ma’am, and that would be very kind of you.” He gave me a broad, yellow-toothed smile. “Bella and I appreciate it very much.”

He took the money, left the papers, and wandered off, whistling. Bella happily trotted behind him.

“Well, that wasn’t so difficult,” I said, patting myself on the back. “I should follow the teachings more often!” I went back inside and finished my considerably shortened practice. I chose to ignore the quiet voice in my head telling me I’d just made a huge mistake.

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!

Just Be this Holiday Season

This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Katie Burns. Katie is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s 200 hour yoga teacher training program and a student in our advanced teacher training program. She can be contacted at

As this holiday season approaches, many of us increase our doing. There are cards to write, gifts to buy, homes to decorate, parties to attend, and many other events and tasks demanding our attention and energy. We participate in many of these activities because we care deeply about the people in our lives, and the holidays present an opportunity to let them know that we love them. We become so busy that some of us begin to cut back in other areas. We sleep fewer hours each night. We run non-stop from work to activity to activity. We buy new underwear because we have three weeks’ worth of dirty laundry in the hamper, and it’s faster to buy new undergarments than to go to the laundry mat. However, this constant state of doing and cutting back our healthy habits may not be the only option for making the holidays special.

During my early twenties, I moved to Chicago to volunteer with an inner-city teaching program. After a brief stint of student teaching summer school, come September I quickly found myself with a second grade class of my own. I felt for these new students. They were stuck with me, a brand new teacher who wasn’t sure what she was doing those first few months. To compensate for my lack of experience, I worked hard. I stayed up late and woke up early to grade papers, write lesson plans, and acquire materials for projects since this low-income school had limited resources. I wanted to give my students the best second grade year that I could. I felt exhausted daily, but I believed that it was worth it.

Then one night, on a fluke (or likely due to exhaustion), I went to bed early knowing the next day would be a struggle since I wouldn’t be fully prepared.  I slept for eight hours that night. When I went to school the next day, I discovered that even though I was less prepared, I felt energized. I was flexible and had more patience with my students. I noticed that my enjoyment in working with these kiddos increased. I was actually a better teacher. It seemed that by taking care of myself, I could roll with the punches and see the joy in the small moments. The rest of the year, I made it a priority to get more sleep.  I learned that I needed to let go of doing in order to really be present with my students.

As we prepare for the holidays this year, I encourage you to continue the activities that allow you to be present with the ones you love. Go to bed early. Attend that yoga class that you’ve been eyeing. Take ten minutes to meditate even if it involves hiding from your family by staying in the bathroom for a mini-meditation post-shower. By letting go of the “need” to do, you may find that you are more peaceful being around loved ones.

Namaste and Happy Holidays,


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 for preorder now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!

Research Proves It! Yoga Helps Combat Depression

Great news for those of you who suffer from seasonal depression or the holiday blues.

Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine recently published a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that showed that three hours of yoga per week can help combat depression much more effectively than an equivalent amount of other forms of exercise, such as walking.

Researchers monitored two groups of healthy individuals for twelve weeks.  One group walked for three hours each week; the other practiced an equivalent amount of yoga. Both groups filled out questionnaires about their mental health and underwent magnetic resonance spectroscopic (MRS) imaging to measure levels of the amino acid GABA. GABA is essential to central nervous system functioning and helps promote a state of internal calm.

The yoga group reported improved mood and lower levels of anxiety, which were reflected in climbing GABA levels.

Yoga participants also showed improvements in strength, endurance, balance and flexibility.

Exactly what the ancient teachings have told us all along!



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 for preorder now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!

Growing Gratitude

This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Katie Burns. Katie is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s 200 hour yoga teacher training program and a student in our advanced teacher training program. She can be contacted at

As we awake from our Thanksgiving food comas, the mind quickly transitions full swing into the holiday season. We know our next Thanksgiving—aka, day of the double Gs: gratitude and gluttony—is a good 350+ days away. Daydreams of gifts we would like to receive enter our conscious space, and brainstorms of presents for those we love occupy our thinking. As we move forward, I invite you to carry the spirit of gratitude from Thanksgiving into your daily life.

In the field of positive psychology, researchers set out to investigate wellness, the good things in life, and factors that contribute to overall well-being. Gratitude is one of their areas of focus. After collecting the results from multiple studies, researcher Christopher Peterson concluded, “Counting your blessings on a regular basis makes you happier and more content with life.” Based on this statement, Peterson, along with fellow researchers Seligman, Steen, and Park, conducted a research study in which they asked people to record three things that went well during the day everyday for one week. From their study, they discovered that attuning to positive things in life and expressing gratitude “increased happiness and decreased symptoms of depression for up to six months.”

I invite you to reap these benefits by keeping a gratitude journal for one week. The instructions that the researchers provided for their participants are below.

Gratitude Journal Instructions

by Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson (as published in A Primer in Positive Psychology by Christopher Peterson, 2006)

“At the end of each day, after dinner and before going to sleep, write down three things that went well during the day. Do this every night for a week. The three things you list can be relatively small in importance (‘my husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today’) or relatively large in importance (‘My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy’). After each positive event on your list, answer in your own words the question, ‘Why did this good thing happen?’ For example, you might speculate that your husband picked up ice cream ‘because he can be really thoughtful’ or ‘because I remembered to call him from work and remind him to stop by the grocery store.’”

You can follow their suggestion or adapt your gratitude journal to fit you. Regardless of the form that your gratitude journal takes, you are planting the seed to focus on the positive moments in your life. Watch to see how that seed grows, and if you are willing, share your experience by leaving a comment below.

Wishing you a happy holiday season filled with gratitude!


Katie Burns

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 for preorder now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!