Parnassus Books is thrilled to welcome Jessamyn Stanley in conversation with Freya West for a discussion of Jessamyn's new book Every Body Yoga.
If you were to do a quick Google image search for the word “yoga,” you’d find that 99% of the search results depict slender young white women. This is society’s accepted idea of a yoga practitioner. It’s easy to see how someone who doesn’t fit that mold might feel alienated and lost.
That’s exactly how Jessamyn Stanley felt when she first tried yoga. “Here’s the thing: I’m fat. And I’ve always been fat”, Stanley writes in Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body, “I found it nearly impossible to reconcile my Afro-American natural beauty with the one-dimensional…portrayals of beauty that surrounded me.” It was only through starting a home practice and posting images of her progress on Instagram that Stanley found the diverse, vibrant community she craved.
Today, the self-proclaimed "fat femme’s" trademark funny, brash, kind, and brutally honest approach to tackling big topics—fat-shaming, body image and the media, the tyranny of unattainable beauty standards—has garnered her over 241K followers on Instagram, features in Good Morning America, Glamour, Shape, Lenny Letter, and acclaim as an internationally celebrated yoga instructor. In Every Body Yoga, Jessamyn offers an unprecedented new beginner’s guide to yoga—specifically for anyone who has ever felt as though their body was too “different” to start a practice.
Jessamyn Stanley is a yoga teacher, body positive advocate, and writer based in Durham, North Carolina. Jessamyn uses high-energy vinyasa flow as a way to move past mental and emotional barriers. Her classes provide a body positive approach to yoga which celebrates students’ bodies and encourages them to ask “How do I feel?” rather than “How do I look?” when practicing yoga. Jessamyn studied with Kimberley Puryear of Asheville Yoga Center’s 230-hour Teacher Training Program and her eponymous yoga lifestyle blog and Instagram attract thousands of followers daily, offering tips and advice for other yoga practitioners while documenting her home yoga practice. Jessamyn contributes to Mind Body Green, Wanderlust, and Elephant Journal. She's been featured and profiled by a variety of International and National media outlets including Good Morning America, The Daily Mail, New York Magazine, The Sunday Times, New York Times' Women In The World, and People, among others.