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By Crystal McCreary

Photography by Jaylan Rhea

Jessamyn Stanley, renowned yoga teacher and body positivity advocate and activist, known for breaking boundaries in the yoga industry, firmly believes that to love and be loved is the entire “reason that we’re here.” Jessamyn’s yoga story is a love story, a story about the process by which she learned to memorize the anatomy of love that resides in her flesh, her bones, her very DNA. Yet, it lacks the fairytale features of a prince and a fairy godmother’s magic. Jessamyn’s love story has grit, has blackness, has cannabis, and most importantly reveals that true love starts with the self. This realization came for Jessamyn after a very painful break-up that landed her in her first yoga class. As the only black, queer student in the yoga classes she took, her presence and the body it lives in were revolutionary for the thin, white, heterosexual, cis-woman yoga student status-quo. Yet Jessamyn is one of the most popular yoga teachers in the world, with over 457K followers on Instagram. Jessamyn’s journey to self-love is facilitated richly by a devoted yoga practice, offering notable insights about how to authentically love oneself, others and effect the positive change so needed in our world in 2021.


Crystal: How do you define love?

Jessamyn: Love is all there is. And there is such a lack of understanding of it because we live in a world that does not … I always feel like love is really just acceptance in action. That acceptance comes from a self-love, a self-acceptance. So much of why love is not understood in the mainstream is cause we’re not practicing self-acceptance. It goes down to this very basic thing.

Crystal: How has your yoga journey inspired your understanding of how to be active in a loving practice?

Jessamyn: Everything for me really stems from a lack of self-awareness and self-acceptance. [When I was young] I spent so much time pretending. I was told at a young age that I was good at certain things, so I just did those things, I studied those things, and I looked for jobs doing those things. I assumed that the happiness that I should experience in my life should come from my jobs doing

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