Burn­ing Down the House

Yoga Journal - - JANUARY 2019 - By Lind­say Tucker Pho­tog­ra­phy by Christo­pher Dougherty

In­ad­ver­tent so­cial-me­dia star Jes­samyn Stan­ley wants yoga to be for all. Here’s how she’s mak­ing it hap­pen.

Jes­samyn Stan­ley is so over white-cen­tric, con­sumer-driven yoga. Armed with a highly ar­tic­u­late voice, a pow­er­ful so­cial plat­form, and a whole lot of at­ti­tude, this yoga teacher and New Age thought leader has de­clared to the world that any­body can prac­tice yoga. And she’s not afraid to show us how it’s done.

JJes­samyn Stan­ley would like y’all to stop call­ing her a yogi—please and thank you. The 31-yearold yoga teacher from North Carolina, who once shame­lessly peed her pants in Savasana rather than leave the room while teach­ing a hot-yoga class in Lon­don, has been strug­gling with mild celebrity since peo­ple started rec­og­niz­ing her in Whole Foods and the air­port and the DMV and some­times just walk­ing down the street.

“Aren’t you that yoga teacher from the tam­pon com­mer­cial?” they be­gan ask­ing after she starred in a U by Ko­tex Fit­ness ad for men­strual pads. “Hey, aren’t you that yogi from In­sta­gram?” It can some­times feel re­lent­less. And while it’s true that Stan­ley’s In­sta­gram ac­count (with 400,000 fol­low­ers and ris­ing) is pop­u­lated by pic­tures of her, often in her un­der­wear, prac­tic­ing dif­fi­cult yoga poses, she says the fame and other forms of ego candy that fuel so­cial me­dia are greatly at odds with the yo­gic life­style she’s try­ing to live. So will ev­ery­one just chill and let her live it?

Like it or not, Stan­ley has at­tracted a mas­sive amount of at­ten­tion in what feels like a few short years. Since 2015, she’s been rec­og­nized by count­less me­dia out­lets such as

Forbes, Bon Ap­pétit, and USA To­day—and last year she be­came the go-to yoga spokesper­son for the New York Times.

Her pod­cast, Jes­samyn Ex­plains It All, is record­ing its sec­ond sea­son, and she’s about to launch a Web se­ries, in which she’ll tackle taboo, politi­cized is­sues such as the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana and the short­com­ings of monogamy. (Her first guest will be yoga teacher and fel­low body-pos­i­tiv­ity ad­vo­cate Dana Falsetti.)

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