Lessons from the Mat: 3 Things I Learned from Jessamyn Stanley
I spent last Friday night at a yoga class + book signing with yoga enthusiast, Jessamyn Stanley!
As I have become more proactive about taking care of my body over the last few years, I have attempted just about everything fitness: zumba, running, bootcamps, spin classes, boxing, For a long time, I resisted yoga. Yoga was an afterthought for me for two main reasons: 1) I’m clumsy AF and 2) as a black woman in a larger body, I was skeptical because I saw no one who looked anything like me doing yoga.
Thank God for social media!
It’s been about two years since I stumbled across Jessamyn’s Instagram page where she has documented the evolution of her yoga practice (check her out on IG: mynameisjessamyn). I was in awe of her sharing her yoga journey (and her incredibly honest captions) with the entire world. And it gave me the courage to attend my first live, in person yoga class last summer. So I knew I had to meet her during her “Every Body Yoga” book tour stop in New Orleans!
Here are three things I learned (or maybe re-learned) at her event:
1. Lean into the tremble.
At some point during our class, we transitioned into a deep Warrior 2 pose. This always seems really simple to me until I realize about 30 seconds in that my front leg is beginning to shake.
And that’s when I heard her say “lean into the tremble.” So I did.
Don’t get me wrong - I was tired, sweat was running into my eyeballs, and I was definitely shouting a series of expletives in my head. I absolutely did not desire to prolong my discomfort. I think we all have a tendency to step back when things get hard and uncomfortable. In life, in work, in relationships, it can be much easier to back away when things get hard and uncomfortable instead of leaning in. But real, authentic progress comes when we face the hard stuff head on, hearts open. And that's worth the shake.
2. You have to show up for yourself.
Jessamyn has been on the move since launching her book, which has undoubtedly been a bit of a disruption to her normal routine. She mentioned that while it’s been great to connect with new people and expand her teaching practice, it had been more of a challenge to maintain her personal yoga practice while on the road, but she was committed to doing it because it was vital to her own well-being.
We hear it over and over again, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. Don’t neglect your own needs for the sake of others.
3. You impact those around you, whether you intend to or not.
The class consisted of about 30 people, men and women, all different shapes, sizes and colors. In the book signing afterwards, someone thanked Jessamyn for being a role model to those of us in the room. She was gracious, but incredibly humble about her intentions; she hadn’t set out to inspire a movement, only to document her own progress in the practice.
But again: there were 30 of us in the room who had been inspired by Jessamyn, who had seen at least a piece of ourselves when viewing her practice. This journey that she had started just for her own benefit had created space for others to realize that they might want want to explore a journey of their own.
Our personal strengths and weaknesses impact others. The progress we make as individuals, professionals, partners is an example to others. We are all constantly learning from each other.
So do some good shit, y’all.
You can learn more about Jessamyn on her blog at jessamynstanley.com and purchase her new book, "Every Body Yoga" here.