Deborah Yaffe

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Jane Austen's new career

By Deborah Yaffe, Dec 17 2015 02:00PM

It’s always inspiring to hear about people who have shifted gears later in life, learning new skills or realizing old dreams. But who knew that Jane Austen, who turned 240 just yesterday, was one such inspiration?


And yet it appears that Jane Austen – or “Jane Austin,” as she now styles herself, using one of those alternate spellings so common in the eighteenth century – has taken a surprising new career path as a San Francisco yoga teacher specializing in pre- and postnatal yoga for women.


Readers of Austen’s letters know that she took a jaundiced view of pregnancy and childbearing: she described her pregnant-yet-again niece as a “poor Animal” doomed to “be worn out before she [was] thirty” and joked, rather horribly, about an acquaintance’s stillbirth “oweing to a fright.—I suppose she happened unawares to look at her husband.”


In her afterlife, however, Austen/Austin seems to have mellowed. Now her web site features talk about “the transformational power of motherhood” and her commitment to helping “mamas” – a commitment that has led her to work as not only a yoga teacher but also a homebirth midwife and birthing assistant. “Jane’s most inspirational teachers remain her own children,” the site says.


It just goes to show that people really can change.


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