The last time The N&O wrote about Jessamyn Stanley, the larger-than-average yoga instructor, she was teaching classes in Durham and about to take her body positive messages out across the East Coast.
At the time, she had close to 100,000 followers on Instagram, where she posts images of herself doing yoga. With her new book, “Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body,” her following should only grow, and deservedly so.
In the book, Stanley explains in words and images (photos of herself and others, both men and women) how to do basic yoga positions. She answers the questions most often asked by yoga novices, explains the different kinds of yoga and how to choose which is right for you, and talks about the importance of yoga props. (In a nutshell: you don’t really need them, but some – like blocks, wedges and straps – can be useful and, she says, buying stuff can be fun.)
But Stanley’s book is more than instruction guide.
She writes of her own childhood and her notions of beauty from growing up in predominantly white Southern suburbia (“I was the epitome of a big, black and beautiful African queen trapped in a sea of dainty-lipped, pale-skinned nymphs. ... As a preteen, I needed constant reassurance of my beauty and, as time went on, I grew to loathe my naturally thick and kinky hair.”)
She writes about her first yoga class (hot, sweaty Bikram yoga that she hated) and her struggles at Weight Watchers and with dieting in general (a lot of mental flogging: “ ‘C’mon Jessamyn,’ ” I’d silently berate myself. “ ‘Why can’t you just eat three egg whites and a peach for breakfast without ending up in a fast-food drive-through before anyone’s definition of a lunch hour?’ ”). Did I mention she can be funny?
And she writes movingly of the life twists and choices that eventually brought her back to yoga – successfully this time.
Stanley’s book is honest and profane (she also has a way with profanity) and might even inspire you to get off the couch and onto a mat.
Meet the author
Jessamyn Stanley will be signing books this week at:
▪ 7 p.m. Thursday, April 6, she’ll be at Quail Ridge Books, 4209-100 Lassiter Mill Road, Raleigh.
▪ 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 8, she’ll lead a class and sign books at Yoga Fest NC, McKimmon Center, 1101 Gorman St., Raleigh. There is a charge to participate. Find out more at youcallthisyoga.org/yogafest-nc-2017.
We have two “Every Body Yoga” books to give away and a yoga mat. (The books are courtesy of Workman and the mat is from Fox TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance.”) For a chance to win, send an email with “yoga book” or “yoga mat” (depending on your preference) to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Monday, April 3.
“Every Body Yoga”
By Jessamyn Stanley
Workman, 219 pages