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If you’ve ever peeked inside a yoga class, you’ve probably noticed that many of the women in it look a certain way. And if you’re interested in taking up the practice, it can be something that can keep you feeling disenchanted. In fact, I’ve watched news stories (Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel to be specific) on controversial Bikram yoga creator Bikram Choudhury, where he tells a student, a teacher in progress, that they’re “fat ass” who needs to lose weight.

Yeah, it’s quite hard to push out negativity and focus on your breathing if you feel like everyone is focused on your body.

But if you follow master yogi Jessamyn Stanley on social media, you finally get to see the body diversity you’ve been missing in yoga. She’s courageous, confident, and can hit some of the most complicated poses like a boss. That’s probably why the 29-year-old yoga teacher has amassed such a strong following (including 243,000 followers on the ‘Gram).

“I cannot be contained within a definition,” Stanley shared in an awesome interview with Health.com. “I think that it is important for other people to see that and to acknowledge that they don’t have to be contained by a definition either, and they can just be whoever they are.”

According to Stanley, she got into yoga after finding herself in a really dark place while dealing with depression. She worried about losing weight and being healthy while dealing with her sadness, and according to her, “Yoga pulled me out of that.”

Since then, she’s been about helping other women, of all shapes and sizes, try and love yoga despite what stereotypical images are attached to the practice.

“That is probably the reason why I am teaching. There is this stereotypical idea, this physical picture that comes with it, which is typically a slender, white, traditionally educated, and affluent woman, and if you are not that then you are automatically different,” she said. “That is why social media is cool. I feel like I can get out there and show what the yoga lifestyle really looks like, and being able to showcase that is critical at this point. At the end of the day, we are not trying to be popular; we are just trying to be ourselves. And if I can encourage other people to do that, than that is amazing.”

Stanley feels the most confident when she walks in her truth, unbothered by who is looking at her and what they may think. So if you are like most of us and struggle with body confidence at times, she has some helpful advice. Do you, sis.

“If I could go back and talk to myself when I was younger—because I used to have horrific body image—I’d tell myself, ‘Don’t think about what other people think about you; you think about what you think about you. And try not to obsess over everything.’ You must always just work towards this light; work toward living in your truth. As long as you are doing that, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of you.”

Check out Stanley’s full interview over at Health.com.

 

Images via Instagram

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