Meet Jessamyn Stanley,
a 30-year-old yoga enthusiast who dispels yoga stereotypes to show that women who are all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities can practice yoga as well. You might recognize Stanley from her advertisements and commercials with Target and Kotex or might’ve signed up for her Yoga X Hip Hop: A Cross-Cultural Conversation class at the Smithsonian Museum this month. Either way, Stanley is gaining recognition by sharing why yoga should be inclusive.
As an international yoga teacher, body advocate, and award-winning Instagram personality, Stanley often leans into her unique way of practicing body positivity by using high energy Vinyasa flow as a way to glide through mental and emotional barriers. She prides herself on providing a body positive approach to yoga which celebrates her student’s bodies and also encourages them to ask themselves “How do I feel?” rather than “How do I look?” when practicing yoga, which is usually not the norm. Stanley first started practicing yoga at 16 years old, found it wasn’t for her and then resumed back in 2011 with Bikram yoga. She became intrigued by how self-satisfying the yoga practice was and began to notice her gradual spiritual awakening.
Upon relocating to Durham, North Carolina, Stanley slowed down practicing yoga due to high studio practices for Bikram classes. Yearning to practice more consistently, she decided to start her own home practice. Within her home practice, she developed patterns of discovering new poses via the online community, researched them using Yoga Journal and collaborated with other yogis online about her yoga journey. To continue growing through her practice, Stanley decided to study with Kimberley Puryear of Asheville Yoga Center’s 230-hour Teacher Training Program, blog consistently about her yoga lifestyle and provide tips and advice for other yoga practitioners.
Today, Stanley is changing the narrative of what a “woman who practices yoga” looks like. She unapologetically takes up space by teaching and practicing yoga that’s rooted in a place of body positivity and self-care, ultimately inspiring others who look like her to do the same. She shares her messages of self-love mainly through her social media channels where you can find her talking about the latest yoga pose she mastered to her thoughts on her own body and the intersectionality of religion and yoga. Stanley refuses to let underrepresentation in her industry intimidate or sway her from doing what she loves to do, which is help others through yoga. I recently had the opportunity to speak to her about her wellness journey, favorite mantra, and how she practices continuous self-care.