Smart Hula Hoop | Jessamyn Stanley Nears Becoming Yoga’s Queen: Jessamyn Stanley is no stranger to yoga. She’s been publicly mating for about a decade.
Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance will be released on June 22, 2021. She’s also launched podcasts, wrote New York Times columns, and amassed hundreds of Instagram followers. She’s worked with brands like Kotex and ClassPass.
As well as now Adidas is highlighting Stanley in their “Watch Us Move” ad to sell their Formotion athletic collection. Her yoga practice has evolved from a physical to a spiritual one.
Despite all the attention, she still tackles race, thin-bodied privilege, sexual identity, cultural appropriation, and the marketing of yoga with the insight of someone ten times her age (33, for the record).
Her roots are in Durham, North Carolina. And she’s managed to be her actual, authentic self on all platforms and not give a damn what anyone else thinks (in the best way).
Smart Hula Hoop | Jessamyn Stanley Nears Becoming Yoga’s Queen
On A Rocket, I’m Still Not Jaded
You’d think Stanley would be over it after a decade in the industry and so many brand collaborations. That is not the case. “It never gets old,” she says. This Adidas commercial, in particular is a natural extension of her voice.
“I feel so lucky to work on initiatives that empower disadvantaged perspectives,” adds Stanley. “The ‘Watch Us Move’ campaign is all about honoring all people and their bodies where they are today.
That message has been very important in my life, and I know the significance of seeing someone who looks like me and feeling empowered to achieve more and be more. Ultimately, this campaign is about allowing people to feel free.”
In the beginning, she wasn’t searching for sponsorships from big fitness companies or even many followers. She was looking for a community.
“I was doing yoga alone at home, which was quite lonely,” she recalls. “It didn’t feel like I had a community.” Even after she started engaging with like-minded people, her effect was limited.
“I still didn’t engage with the fact that other people saw and were impacted,” she says. “There’s been a huge movement in the wellness sector and the debate around body autonomy. Body freedom, and allowing room for various people to be out there and have their views heard.
Until recently, I didn’t know how much of an impact I was having on the world. So now it’s sunk in? “‘OK, what can we do now? How do we spread this message?'”
Inspiring The Future | Smart Hula Hoop
Unlike those of us who have accumulated mementos of beauty standards and body shame throughout our lives and are now burdened with eliminating them all, the next generation has the option to walk through life without the same mental baggage.
To think that [body shame] is a given in life is “insane,” Stanley argues. “Imagine: We can help kids not feel ashamed of their bodies.
Youngsters can read this message and be eternally transformed, whether it’s an Underbelly Yoga class at their gym or Meg Boggs on TikTok. That motivates me more than just communicating with folks outside my living room. It will outlive me.”
Not Her Poses, But Her Practice
Stanley began practicing yoga for its physical benefits, but its position in her life has evolved. To begin with, she was preoccupied with postures and which ones she could focus on and hone.
“I’d slip into a corner of profound hip, heart, and inversion openers. There’s a lot of self-discovery, but it’s also quite surface-level. It’s not about seeing yourself honestly and authentically.”
The disparity between the wellness business and the core of yoga put her in bind as her impact grew. “I see the monetization of yoga and live in the yoga-industrial complex,” she says.
To cope, she returned to her mat with a new outlook. “This divergence has developed my practice in ways I never expected,” Stanley adds. “It’s given me a new perspective on the practice beyond postures.
The practice allows me to accept some of the confusing feelings and be more kind and compassionate with myself. As my businesses and brands grow, it allows me to be at home within myself.”
While she continues to add workshops to The Underbelly, her practice has slowed. “Now I understand why certain yoga lineages like ashtanga do the same flows over and over again there’s no reason to alter,” she explains.
“The same flow, postures, can teach you so much. My daily sequence now varies slightly, but it’s always the same general set of poses. I focus on fine-tuning the movements, going as slowly as possible, and letting the breath lead.
Every posture is about my breath. That may be complete stillness it’s all simply for quietness. I used to believe that was easy, but now I realize that’s the hard way to do yoga.”
A Shitty Year’s Fruit | Smart Hula Hoop
The Vietnamese Zen Buddhist spiritual guru Thich Nhat Hanh famously said, “No mud, no lotus.” The planet has suffered a lot in the last year, but Stanley believes it will lead to blooming.
This year’s instability, elections, COVID, and society’s ‘waking up to the crimes that have been going on for a long time, she adds, gives her a sense of possibility. “There’s all this new land we’re tilling together and so much opportunity for the younger generations.”
While social media has become a minefield (hello, cancel culture), Stanley is devoted to being her true self. What’s more, she writes, “the last year’s events have solidified my belief in the value of being open to change, difficult situations, and just letting it all in.”
“Before 2020, I — and I’m sure many others — tended to hide problems or brush them under the rug. But 2020 said, “No more.” That’s tired and old.’ So I think we can finally be 100% honest all the time.
As well as that involves digging up the buried and not attempting to dodge the hardness and anguish of vulnerability. There’s no reason to flee. Flowers bloom from that place of exquisite sensitivity. it is the way.”
Walking Forward, Alone
For the record, moving ahead does not necessitate posting a black square on Instagram or regurgitating current events. Since more people are voicing their opinions, I believe there is a more collective, party-line attitude to certain problems.
In a sense, I’ve often felt like an outsider, unsure of how to say or do in the face of a group’s unanimous decision or decision. It always ends with ‘this doesn’t feel right, good, or authentic.’
That’s how I know to return to what I believe is true, even if it means traveling alone and not being understood. What does it mean to crave acceptance from others?”
That doesn’t mean she knows. “It’s just the route, and it means embracing what it is to be an individual,” Stanley explains. “While difficult, I believe it is the reason for being here and having a platform.
Why should we speak up, Why are we here, Why do we speak? Putting it simply, I’m letting my light shine, and no one else’s light can shine through me. No one else will necessarily understand that brightness, and that’s good.”