Jessamyn Stanley shows there’s more than just one kind of person who practices yoga—and thank god.
image via Jessamyn Stanley's Facebook page
Say the word “yoga” and you might think: skinny arms, tragic juice cleanses, Gwyneth Paltrow. But Jessamyn Stanley, who identifies as a queer fat femme and yoga instructor, believes the practice should belong to everyone. Her Instagram account, which features images of her performing a various array of easy-to-almost-impossible yoga poses, is now home to 55,000 followers. As Stanley explains it, there is no typical yoga body—nor should there ever be.
Stanley came to yoga the same way many people came to yoga—via a Groupon. Stanley has since spent the past four years learning yoga, and has since moved on to teaching it. As Stanley told New York Magazine, placing a “typical yoga body” (read: white, thin) at the front of the classroom, “creates more of an aspirational experience than an inspirational one. It doesn’t actually elicit what yoga should give people.” In recent years, more and more classes have opened up for plus-sized people. Stanley noted that yoga classes for larger-bodied people “tend to be gentle,” and while gentle yoga can be great, opportunities should widen. “There’s so much opportunities in everyone’s bodies,” Stanley said.