Jessamyn Stanley: This curvy yogi rocks
Think you know what a yoga body looks like? Well when you see the fabulously flexible and fit Jessamyn Stanley, you might think again.
The North Carolina-based 27-year-old yoga teacher says her teachings provide a body positive approach to yoga, encouraging students to ask 'How do I feel?' rather than 'How do I look?'
Her path to teaching yoga got off to a slightly patchy start when a 16-year-old Stanley was first dragged along to a Bikram yoga class by her aunty. The sweaty and stiflingly hot 90-minute session didn't win her over. Being a typical teen she would have preferred to watch "VHS tapes" on her aunt's sofa.
Fast forward to 2011, and thanks to a Groupon offer coupled with a friend's encouragement, Stanley gave Bikram another shot. This time, after a few sessions, the yoga bug seemed to take.
Then later, thanks to not being able to afford the more expensive classes in her neighbourhood, Stanley established her own home practice, rooted in her favourite selections from the 26 poses which constitute Bikram yoga, along with many new poses she continues to discover.
The self-proclaimed "fat femme" notes on her tumblr page that she hasn't particularly mastered any yoga poses, but is addicted to exceeding her personal expectations.
Y'all, the lovely @amber_karnes of Body Positive Yoga & I had a great time chatting as part of her new Body Positive Yoga Interview Series. In the interview, I talk about my yoga origin story, yoga as therapy, and how I deal with internet haters (among other things). Amber was and remains one of my biggest yoga inspirations- she was one of the first curvy women to really be vocal about her yoga practice on the internet and I am so humbled/honored by the opportunity to be featured on bodypositiveyoga.com. Click The Link In My IG Header to Watch The Video!
Her message to others is to try it and not let any personal body issues be an excuse not to (she regularly posts 'size doesn't matter' yoga challenges on her YouTube account).Stanley told NY Mag that it can be intimidating to see the typical yoga body at the front of the class, but such fears aren't what yoga should give people.
"The whole point of this practice is to burn away the parts of our lives that are built up over the years that don't matter, and to burn that away to who you truly are."
Well said, Jessamyn. A plea from Stuff – won't you please oh please come down our way so we can take one of your classes?
I am often asked about preparatory poses for #inversions, and my mind always immediately goes to #forearmplank pose. Once I started focusing on my #core work, kicking into inversions became a much more attainable goal. I like to hold this pose from 30-60 seconds, depending on how much I feel like torturing myself. Actually, as time has progressed and i've gotten more comfortable with it, there are definitely days when I look forward to forearm (and regular) plank. It's a great place to turn off your mind and just exist in the pose. (I'm sure some people might not expect someone with such an expressive belly to engage in daily core work, but looks can and should be deceiving. #fatkidforever #gimmedatcake)