Justice

This Yoga Teacher is Challenging Body Stereotypes In An Amazing Way

Self-described "yoga enthusiast," "fat femme," and "body positive advocate" Jessamyn Stanley has a message for aspiring yogis of the world: you don't need to be ultra thin to thrive at the ancient practice.

According to her personal website, she uses "high energy vinyasa flow as a way to move past mental and emotional barriers," in her classes, which provide "a body positive approach to yoga [that] celebrates students’ bodies and encourages them to ask 'How do I feel?' rather than 'How do I look?' when practicing yoga."

Though her first yoga experience was "hell on earth," she loves doing it now and would like to encourage women of all body types to love themselves even if they don't have the stereotypical tiny yoga figure. Stanley addressed yoga body issues in a Facebook post featuring a yoga friend earlier this month, encouraging women to photograph themselves in the asana position to appreciate the body as a whole.

Playing with light and angles for day one of #backtobackbends with @kinoyoga @beachyogagirl @aloyoga. Though I've come...

Posted by Supportive Yoga on Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"[W]e should all photograph our asana practices," she wrote. "Photography is one of the best ways to really capture your body's strength in motion as a way to understand its overall power. Once you see your most disliked body parts as part of an exquisite machine, I believe you can gradually stop hating your body and understand its true beauty. Mad love to my yoga warrior sister Annie of Supportive Yoga [the woman in the photo above]- she really captures that internal battle."

In her latest Facebook post, she stresses the importance of personal progress over wishing to perfect a yoga pose as someone else has done:

Y'all, we've got to stop making #yoga so competitive. Every time one of us makes a comment comparing our asana practices...

Posted by Jessamyn Stanley on Sunday, July 12, 2015

"Y'all, we've got to stop making ‪#‎yoga‬ so competitive," she wrote. "Every time one of us makes a comment comparing our asana practices and shaming ourselves by saying another practitioner's pose progress is 'better' than our own, we just continue to sow the seeds of negative body elitism."

Stanley's plethora of body positive yoga snapshots speak to many people, as she has nearly 100,000 Instagram followers and more than 17,000 Facebook fans:

 

A photo posted by Jessamyn (@mynameisjessamyn) on

Late last year, she shared a yoga pose photo and wrote that she would no longer worry about the number that appears when she steps on the scale, as her "body is too strong for that bullshit. I refuse to belittle my power by worrying about weight fluctuation":

 

A photo posted by Jessamyn (@mynameisjessamyn) on