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I've been a Jessamyn Stanley fan for a long time; I was in the audience at her event here at Parnassus for Every Body Yoga. This collection of essays explores not only our relationship with yoga but wrestles with big questions about cultural appropriation, racism and materialism. Jessamyn's way with words made each essay memorable and thought-provoking.
Finding self-acceptance both on and off the mat. In Sanskrit, yoga means to “yoke.” To yoke mind and body, movement and breath, light and dark, the good and the bad. This larger idea of “yoke” is what Jessamyn Stanley calls the yoga of the everyday—a yoga that is not just about perfecting your downward dog but about applying the hard lessons learned on the mat to the even harder daily project of living. In a series of deeply honest, funny autobiographical essays, Jessamyn explores everything from imposter syndrome to cannabis to why it’s a full-time job loving yourself, all through the lens of yoke. She calls out an American yoga complex that prefers debating the merits of cotton versus polyblend leggings rather than owning up to its overwhelming Whiteness. She questions why the Western take on yoga so often misses—or misuses—the tradition’s spiritual dimension. And reveals what she calls her own “whole-ass problematic”: Growing up Baháí, loving astrology, learning to meditate, finding prana in music. And in the end, Jessamyn invites every reader to find the authentic spirit of yoke—linking that good and that bad, that light and that dark.
About the Author
JESSAMYN STANLEY is the author of Every Body Yoga and Yoke and an internationally acclaimed voice in wellness, highly sought after for her insights on 21st-century yoga and intersectional identity. She is the founder of The Underbelly, an inclusive wellness community and streaming app, cohost of the podcast Dear Jessamyn, and cofounder of We Go High, a North Carolina based cannabis justice initiative. She is a regular contributor to SELF magazine and has been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, and Sports Illustrated.
“Through a series of charming and thoughtful autobiographical essays, Yoke ultimately explains why Stanley practices yoga in the first place.”–Marie Claire
“Jessamyn Stanley takes her “all-bodies, all-abilities” approach to teaching yoga off the mat with Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance, a book of personal essays about life—the good, the bad, and loving all of yourself.”–Bust Magazine
"Yoke, unpacks the deeper meaning of yoga, beyond perfecting your downward dog." –InStyle
"In Yoke, she uses her own life as a metaphor to further explore the coming together of mind and body, light and the dark, good and the bad - both on and off the mat." –People
"Yoke is full of the kind of wisdom, honesty, and vulnerability that can only come from someone who’s mastered the art of yoking in all its forms: the physical, the spiritual, the mental." –Refinery29
"Enlightening and a joy to read." –Goop
"Eye-opening, informative and always a joy to read." –PopSugar
"This is a book for all readers, as a practical manual for embodied spiritual activism, a guide to decolonizing wellness, a tool for recognizing privilege, and a reminder that yoga isn’t the corporate fantasy businesses make it out to be. Essential reading." —Library Journal Starred Review
Readers who have dealt with struggles of impostor syndrome, self-doubt, and the difficulty of fitting into a space where no one looks like them will relate strongly. Abstract, funny, heartfelt, and inspiring, Yoke is a fundamental book for those learning to feel present in their emotions and to take up space for themselves, both on the yoga mat and off. –Booklist Starred Review
“Her reflections on topics such as meditation, imposter syndrome, wealth inequality, racism, cannabis use, sexual abuse and the sacredness of music are heartfelt and often searing. She is strongly declarative, and this makes for a narrative that allows readers to really know this author, which is, after all, what many readers want: connection.” –BookPage
“Jessamyn Stanley is the yogi we all needed—her perspectives are equal parts hilariously real and starkly insightful; I never knew I’d learn so much about myself while laughing so hard.” —Tess Holiday, model and author of The Not So Subtle Art of Being a Fat Girl
“Jessamyn speaks unapologetically from her heart and gives the reader permission to do the same.” —Adriene Mishler, founder of Yoga with Adriene and Find What Feels Good
“Read this book. It will bring you back home to you. Yoke is powerfully honest, but above all it’s a book that will remind you of your own ability to yoke; to untie; to arrive at that centered place inside where all the pieces of you fit together.” —Rachel Brathen, author of Yoga Girl and founder of yogagirl.com
“Jessamyn’s voice is the wake-up call we all need: irreverent, insightful, brutally honest, and straight-up funny. Stanley encourages us to peel back those layers, unlearn what we’ve been taught, and give ourselves the freedom to become who we were always meant to be.” —Kathryn Budig, author of Aim True and cohost of Free Cookies
“Jessamyn Stanley is that rare combination of radical honesty, deep empathy, expertise, and an unwavering dedication to her craft. Yoke is the antidote to fluffy self-help culture that, at its core, is anything but healing. There is no wellness without realness, and Jessamyn never strays from her center. In turn, she helps to root us deeply within our own. This book, like its author, is a gem.” —Chani Nicholas, author of You Were Born for This and cocreated of the CHANI app