Body-positive advocate and wellness motivator, Jessamyn Stanley is making waves in the wellness community with her down to earth, lovable and outspoken personality. She is unapologetically herself in the best way possible. Despite her busy tour schedule, Jessamyn carved out some time to chat with us about her personal growth through yoga, using cannabis in her practice and the newfound fame she is receiving. She also addressed the cultural stereotypes that exist in the yoga community and how she is using her voice to call them out.
Based in North Carolina, the award-winning yoga instructor weighed in on the hype surrounding cannabis and how it partners with her own yoga practices. Jessamyn is deeply passionate about the plant as a self-care tool, especially in her yoga practice. “Yoga allows us to see and experience the light within ourselves and cannabis makes space for that light to shine. I tend to use cannabis before and after my practice,” she said. Cannabis also focuses and soothes her in slow flow yoga sequences with long holds that can be emotionally disruptive.
With that said, she offers some advice for those looking to add the herb to their yoga practice. She encourages everyone to start slowly with a single drop of CBD or just one toke off a vape pen. “Dosage is crucial. The wrong cannabis dosage in a yoga practice could create unnecessary mental distraction. A dosage that works for one practitioner might not work for someone else and it’s important to learn which types, strains, and dosage amounts work best for your body.” Following this advice will help cannabis-loving yogis find what works best to maximize its potential in their practices. Jessamyn told us that she prefers smoking flower; it has proven to be the most effective, easy to obtain product and she says it pairs the best with her lifestyle.
Every Body Yoga
Jessamyn has been dedicated to a daily yoga practice since 2013. Although she comes from a family of bodybuilders and athletes, she never thought of herself to be anything of the sort. Hot yoga especially has greatly improved Jessamyn’s flexibility, which allows her to go deeper into poses and holds. She enjoys flowing in her living room so that she may medicate as needed but also likes to join hot vinyasa or power flow classes in Durham. When in her home, she uses upcycled props such as dog leashes or old crates to get into poses. She even used to use old VHS cassettes duct taped together to imitate yoga blocks. Learning how to make yoga work for her body led Jessamyn to develop a personalized sequence that she began to share with the world in an online journal.
As her internet presence gained recognition, people started requesting more from Jessamyn, such as virtual classes and details on her yoga-influenced journey. These days, Jessamyn teaches yoga digitally and in person all over the world. She has a heavy tour schedule, visiting cities globally and inviting people of all ages, shapes, color, sexual orientation, and ability level to join in her flow. Jessamyn’s book, “Every Body Yoga” shows a realer side of yoga beyond Lululemon and other 21st-century yoga stereotypes. Jessamyn’s virtual yoga studio, The Underbelly, is creating a global impact on positive body image yoga community. The app was designed for an inclusive yoga society where the goal is to create positive body acceptance. “I was inspired to create The Underbelly because I believe digital wellness should be reflective of all bodies and lifestyles, not just the same fitness nonsense we’ve been force fed for years,” Jessamyn said.
Despite her passion for yoga now, when Jessamyn encountered her very first class at 16-years-old, she had a less than pleasant experience. The 90-minute hot Bikram yoga that her aunt brought her to kicked her butt and left her thinking that she’d never attempt another downward dog in her life. Simply and openly, Jessamyn describes her first yoga class as “hell on earth” but as she learned to love her body more as an adult, she saw where mindfulness and yoga could greatly benefit her well-being. She realized that part of hating that first class could have been displaced teenager hormones that lead adolescents to dislike almost everything that’s not their idea.
During Jessamyn’s self- discovery as a newfound yoga lover, she noticed that all things yoga were seemingly geared at specific groups and lacked diversity. “The yoga world’s stereotypes are identical to stereotypes in every other part of the mainstream, and they all reflect white supremacist and heteronormative values,” she explained. “In my experience, the best way to dissolve stereotypes if you exist in a marginalized body, is to loudly and unapologetically live your life. That’s my plan,” she said.
Although her newfound fame was not something she ever sought out, she now sees it as an opportunity to use her voice to inspire people to want to change their lives through yoga and use cannabis as a wellness tool. This in turn, encourages her to stay on track with her own growth.
“I am very self-critical of my internal reaction to recognition and fame. As a yoga practitioner, it feels important to not allow myself to be distracted by recognition and fame. However, I cannot deny that being able to use my platform as an international force for good feels like one of the most important opportunities of my life,” Jessamyn told us.
Jessamyn’s openness of her personal growth shows a great deal of vulnerability that is incredibly inspiring to see. The world needs more voices and views like hers to be heard. The yoga community is lucky to have such a powerful woman on its side. “It’s been incredible to witness the sheer volume of people that have been inspired to change their lives because of my Instagram photos and it’s definitely made me feel as though I should always use my voice for the greater good.”