Body Weight Is Just A State Of Mind

Stanley is often scantily clad in her Instagram photos. “I think it’s intimidating [to see the ‘typical yoga body’ at the front of the class],” she told nymag. “It creates more of an aspirational experience as opposed to an inspirational one. It doesn’t actually elicit what yoga should give people. The whole point of this practice is to burn away the parts of our lives that are built up over the years that don’t matter, and to burn that away to who you truly are.”

I am stronger than I thought

Jessamyn Stanley explains on her feed that we live in a society where we are trained to think that being overweight is wrong so people are going to stare at you and that our society throws crazy shade at anyone whose body differs from the models featured in Western media. The yoga lover always tells people (especially women) to stop sending negative energy into their bodies and thoughts.

Learn how to hand stand

So here’s some yoga instruction from Stanley, about one of the scariest parts of the practice: the headstand. “With headstands, at first I thought, F--k that noise—I have a giant stomach; that is not happening,” she says. “But getting into that pose is not about my stomach; it’s a mental thing. I am stronger than I thought.” Her tips for getting upside down:

Start with a killer Downward Dog. “That pose is absolutely essential,” Stanley says. “Really feeling the ground is critical, because you’re going to transfer that sensation to your shoulders and forearms in a headstand.” Start on your hands and knees on your mat, with hands directly under shoulders and hips directly over knees. Straighten your legs and push your hips up toward the ceiling, forming a V shape. Hold for five breaths before you move on to Dolphin pose.

Next up: Dolphin pose. “In many respects it’s harder than an actual headstand,” admits Stanley. To get into Dolphin pose, start in Downward Dog, then bend elbows and lower forearms to the mat. You get tons of benefits holding there, but to progress toward a headstand, walk feet in a little toward your hands, keeping legs straight (the goal is to get hips up over shoulders). Lift one leg at a time into the air, alternating sides. When you feel strong enough—and it could take months or even years!—try bringing both legs up together. That’s your headstand.

Falling is key. “It’s the most important part,” says Stanley. “To stand up, you have to fall down.” Don’t try to direct the fall, she suggests; you’re more likely to get injured that way. “Let whatever’s going to happen happen.”

Forget the hashtagworthy pic. “If I could go back in time, I’d say to myself, ‘Can you please chill out about looking like a picture and just practice?’” she says. “If your body is ready, it’ll happen.” And then be prepared for a whole new outlook: “Whenever you’re upside down and you see the world from another angle, you see your life from a different angle.”

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