I’m going to be a bit brief today and just tell you about a fantastic person whom I had the great opportunity to see and hear last week, and she is Jessamyn Stanley. To quote directly from her site, Jessamyn “…is a yoga teacher, body positivity advocate, and writer based in Durham, North Carolina.” In the subtitle of her blog, she identifies herself as a “Yoga Enthusiast and Fat Femme”- reclaiming the word “fat”- free of the negative connotations our society associates with the descriptor.
I feel like all I really have to do is write these things down- it should be self-evident how incredibly awesome this is. Stanley has a new book out called Every Body Yoga and is a guide to getting started in yoga aimed especially toward those who have (for good reason) felt ostracized and unwelcome by the images of marketplace yoga- specifically those of financially and physically privileged, typically white females. For instance, this is literally what you get when you google image search “yoga:”
It’s important to realized that I’m talking about marketplace yoga, which is a term I read recently as it applied to feminism and which basically describes the way in which we commodify (and in my opinion, corrupt) the values of feminism, or, in this case, yoga. Yoga is about many things- health, discipline, spirituality, self-expression, finding the bravery to look at yourself and meet yourself where you really are- you know, light stuff.
In any case, Stanley became famous via Instagram when she started posting pictures of herself practicing her yoga poses– making her body visible in the online media dialogue. She’s inspired lots and lots of people, and, when seeing her in person, is definitely a force to be reckoned with while she makes you laugh your ass off.
The event last week was put on by the Boulder Book store and was simply a dialogue between Stanley and another Boulder based teacher on the state of yoga, inclusion, and body positivity. There was a lot of interaction with the awesomely diverse crowd who came from all over the front range, not just Boulder. The discussion left me with many quotable moments, which I will leave for you here.
- Body positivity is about “….accepting the darkness as ammunition to power yourself forward…” and yoga brings you outside yourself so that other things (besides what you look like) matter more.
- The end game is to give back and make the world a better place.
- Every breath and shape is getting closer to being a vessel of good.
- Every human is dealing with injuries inside that need to be addressed, especially marginalized people.
So, in case you didn’t know about Jessamyn Stanley and you just happen to read my little blog, there you are. Another person by which to be inspired.