Meet Jessamyn Stanley: the woman changing our perception of a "yoga body".

This is some yoga you’ll want to bow down for.

Jessamyn Stanley has grown a following of over 50, 000 Instagram followers thanks to her yoga snaps.

But these aren’t your signature sunset-filled, scantily-clad “yoga porn” pictures. And Stanley’s not your “traditional” yogi – just a yoga enthusiast-turned-teacher keen to dispel stereotypes and promote positive body image and diversity.

Oh, and she’s got some pretty kick-ass leggings to go with her gravity-defying yoga skills too.

The 27 year-old  first started Bikram yoga in 2011 and loved it.

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“I was always one of the bigger people in the classroom, but I think that Bikram is great because the size discrimination is very minimal,” she told The Cut.

“When I moved I couldn’t afford to practise in studios anymore. As soon as I started practising at home, this whole other world opened up to me, because when you’re in the classroom, it’s really less about the instructors and more about the students,” she says.

According to Stanley, a common fear that people who don’t fit the mold confide in her is that they’re worried people will stare at them.

“I’m like ‘They ARE going to be staring at you’. That’s the reality of it. We live in a society where we are trained to think that being overweight is wrong so people are going to stare at you. They’re going to have ideas about you. The only thing you can control is your reaction to that,” she says.

To get comfortable, Stanley recommend practising at home, which she believes will build the happiness and enjoyment that will be with you regardless of what studio you go to.

Image via Instagram.

“For the longest time, I thought I didn’t want to be a teacher because there’s so many teachers. But I know so many people who are very slender – I guess more “typical yoga bodies” – and those are usually the main people who are soliciting me because they just want to feel normal,” she says.

For Stanley, her Instagram account (which garnered attention earlier this year) is really just a way for her to chart her self-improvement.

“The best part for me is I can go back and literally see my progress. ‘Oh my muscles are better here, this is what I need to be doing differently’. That’s the point. It’s hard to really hone a home practise without having some kind of documentation,” she says.

And she has a no-nonsense attitude for any online haters.


Read more: “Dear yoga. I’m sorry, I’m faking it.”

“I do get some negative comments, much less this year than last year, and I think that’s because there’s because I don’t acknowledge it. It’s not a good use of time to focus on a lot of negative shit,” she says.

“But also I went through so much emotional turmoil in middle school that I just don’t know what someone could say to me at this point. What a creative idea – “oh my God I’m fat!? I had no idea, thank you so much for telling me.'”

Image via Instagram

She admits it can be intimidating seeing the “typical yoga body” at the front of the class.

“It creates more of an aspirational experience as opposed to an inspirational one. It doesn’t actually elicit what yoga should give people.” she says.

“The whole point of this practise is to burn away the parts of our lives that are built up over the years that don’t matter, and to burn that way to who you truly are.”

Read more: 5 ways to look younger (No kale or yoga required.)

That said, she doesn’t like the idea of the growing trend of “fat” yoga studios.

“I have so many mixed feelings about this. I think putting the words ‘curve’ or ‘fat’ before yoga says a lot,” she says.

“With yoga, there shouldn’t be a reason we need to separate. While I completely understand how beautifully comforting it must be to go into a studio and have people who are not going to look at you weird, I think having studios where you have to be a larger-bodied person to even go there adds to the problem.” (Post continues after gallery.)

Want to be a pro at yoga? Take a look at these yoga poses.

“It adds to the community of people thinking that you’re either one way or the other, as opposed to thinking that we’re all the same way. Until that kind of discrimination stops, I don’t see any way to get beyond this point.”

“You should be able to walk into any studio. I think it’s really important for yoga instructors of all disciplines to become familiar with how to work with a larger-bodied person and then it won’t be as necessary to have studio spaces that are “safe spaces.”

While it’s saddening that what should be just an ordinary picture of a strong and beautiful woman doing yoga is considered going against the norm, it’s women like Stanley who will help get us to that point – one downward dog at a time.

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Do you think yoga has been overtaken by stereotypes? Do you find Stanley’s pictures inspiring?