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Book Review: The Way of the Happy Woman: Living the Best Year of Your Life by Sara Avant Stover

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The self-nurturing we need – and crave – as busy, committed, modern women has arrived with The Way of the Happy Woman: Living the Best Year of Your Life. This delightful book by Sara Avant Stover holds so much valuable content that it is more than a simple one-time read; it is a new sacred tool to hold, reference, and cherish throughout every season of the year.

The philosophy is simple: You, and you alone, are responsible for your own health, happiness, and making the most of the seasons of your life. You have the ability, and responsibility, to take supreme care of your body, thoughts, actions and emotions. We’ve all heard these messages before, right?

So even better than being fed the same recycled ideas, The Way of the Happy Woman provides tangible, loving actions that each woman can take to incorporate this philosophy into her daily lifestyle. Throughout the rising and setting suns of spring, summer, fall and winter, Sara offers spiritual wisdom, delicious recipes, simple yoga techniques, one-day seasonal retreats, journaling exercises, meditations and practical advice. All of these suggested techniques and tips (and there are a lot!) are why this book shines — and why I found it to be a special discovery.

One of my favorite aspects of The Way of the Happy Woman (besides the natural recipes and mindful techniques) are the seasonal one-day retreats that are designed to be done at home, in your natural space, when you have time: the Spring Synthesizing Retreat, the Summer Pleasures Retreat, the Autumn Letting Go Retreat, and the Winter Rejuvenation Retreat. Each retreat offers a step-by-step guide on how to spend a full day relaxing, connecting to yourself, and honoring where you are on your path. Everything you need for each retreat is included in the book, including recipes, yoga moves, journaling ideas, meditations, and inspired activities.

Sara’s personal journey has included overcoming anorexia, being diagnosed with cancer at 22, moving to Thailand, practicing and teaching yoga, and extensively studying the body, healthy living and ancient cultural healing practices. Based on her years of teaching and healing experience, she now integrates complementary modalities to pave a path for women to follow through each season of the year. Sara’s tone is that of a friend, a confidante, a guide, an ally and a sage. While reading her words, I felt I could trust her and that this information is her passion. The Way of the Happy Woman is bigger than a single book; it is a committed lifestyle.

If I had to determine what is missing, I would have loved vivid pictures of the freshly prepared food, full-color yoga moves, and a visual focus on sensory pleasures. Also, it may not be realistic for every reader to incorporate or try everything that is suggested, but one of the strengths of this book is that there are many choices to follow. Even if it’s simply trying a few new recipes and renting a beginner’s yoga DVD, there is much to be gained from the enclosed offerings. As with all things in life, we get out of it equal to what we put into it.

Many healthy, natural aspects of living have fallen to the wayside as we continually lean more towards screen connections and away from inner Self connection. The Way of the Happy Woman re-introduces ancient knowledge into a modern world and reminds us how we are capable of graciously ebbing and flowing with the natural seasons of nature. Personally, I think this is the way to go.


Sara Avant Stover took her first yoga class at age 18, sat in her first meditation retreat a few years later, and knew immediately that she would devote her life to teaching. After a health scare in her early 20s, Sara moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand where she lived for 9 years, embarked on a healing odyssey throughout Asia, and, as a multi-certified yoga teacher, served as one of the pioneer yoga teachers in that part of the world. Since that time she has studied with the leading spiritual masters of our time and has taught 3,000 students in over a dozen different countries.

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About Molly McCord