Jessamyn Stanley

The Body-Positive Yogi Who Started a Movement

If you ever thought yoga was for only the super-skinny, super-wealthy or super-flexible, Jessamyn Stanley is here to tell you, “It ain’t.” The social-media-famous yogi is a champion of body positivity. Her book, Every Body Yoga, breaks down the boundaries and biases associated with what is “beauty” and “strength.” Yoga, as it turns out, is for everyone.

When did you realize what you wanted to do in your life?

“In terms of yoga, my practice began to deepen dramatically following a series of sad events including the sudden and unexpected losses of my aunt and grandmother, both of whom were extremely close to me and served as major role models in my upbringing. Those losses, paired with a cataclysmic shift in my professional life (I’d dropped out of graduate school and moved to my current home of Durham, North Carolina, without any money or a job) meant that I was set even more adrift than I’d been at the start of my yoga practice.

“However, the darkness of my life has always been the fountain of my yogic strength, and this has continued to the present day. I wasn’t inspired to teach other people until I felt the strength from prospective practitioners across the globe asking that I bring my practice to their doorsteps. This motivation has carried me to multiple continents and countries as well as a large number of U.S. states. I became a teacher in response to the insane wave of people from all over the globe who desperately asked me to come and teach them. If left to my own devices, I may have never become a teacher. It wasn’t until after I underwent training, however, that I began to understand just how important it is to have a wide variety of yoga teachers in order to respond to the endlessly varied lifestyles that exist on the planet. There is no singular yoga teacher who is perfect for everyone, and therefore it’s important to have a large group to draw from.”

What is your biggest accomplishment to date?

“The greatest moments for me are when I get to practice with my students. Not on camera. Not with any light on us at all. The moments when I get to see people change their own lives through movement, breath and internal sight are highlights that could never be overstated. I am so grateful for the ability to interact with other human beings in this way. It’s truly the gift of my life.”

What advice do you have for other women working toward their own dreams?

“Don’t imitate other people; spend time looking within yourself and tell that story. That’s the story that’s never been told before. You are unique, you’re not a carbon copy. Don’t build a mold and follow directions—break the mold. Break the rules. Be your own person.”

Favorite podcast?

“My podcast, Jessamyn Explains It All! Season two coming soon.”

Boost the Honoree

Share below to spread the word
Meet the