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With 5 years of yoga training, over 5oo photos of her practice, 152 thousand followers on Instagram, and countless messages from people around the world wanting to take a class with her, Jessamyn Stanley is changing the face of yoga. Her message of loving the skin we are in no matter our shape or size and “celebrating small victories” has captured the hearts and minds of her followers.

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Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.17.39 PMIn an interview with The Huffington Post, Jessamyn describes how she began doing yoga in her home after going to Bikram studio classes became too pricey. She explains that she started using resources like Yoga Journal’s Pose Index and worked at her own pace and flexibility to deepen her practice. Big on people taking their time and being patient with themselves, she asks us to remember that, sometimes, it’s okay to slow down.

Jessamyn-Stanley-Inspiration-YOGA-for-all-regardless-of-shape-size-or-level-of-fitness-1-e1434410988145I’ve done my fair share of yoga — on and off (currently off) — and if you’re anything like me, you can’t help but judge and compare yourself to others in the yoga class. I always find myself wondering, “Will I ever be that good?” and “What am I really doing?” I also inevitably begin to think to myself, “I wish my body looked like that” and “If only I were smaller/fitter/stronger, I would be great.” Of course, deep down, I know these statements are merely negative stories I tell myself; however, they still keep popping up, and I think that’s why so many have gravitated towards Jessamyn. Going through her pictures I cannot help but be reminded of the body-shaming that goes on in the yoga community sometimes. The assumption seems to be that a teacher or yogi should look a certain way, otherwise they must not be very good and ought not be taken seriously.

Jessamyn-Stanley-Inspiration-Yoga-Any-Shape-Size-Age-20The asanas (yoga poses) she is doing in her pictures are incredibly difficult and require a great deal of poise and strength. I look at them and I’m in awe because they serve as an powerful reminder that, truly, anyone can do yoga if they put in the work. It is not some sexy, exclusive exercise routine meant for the rich and skinny and ‘not for me.’ Rather, it is a deeply personal form of moving meditation that is, simply put, beautiful. It is a practice which shows real commitment to honouring one’s mind, body, and soul.

So, thanks for the inspiration Jessamyn! Her Instagram handle is @Mynameisjessamyn. Check her out for some amazingly positive and empowering posts. After seeing them for myself, I think that my ‘currently off’ switch just got flipped to ‘on.’ Small victories, indeed!

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