Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley

“I wrote this book for every fat person, every old person, and every exceptionally short person. I wrote it for every person who has called themselves ugly and every person who can’t accept their beauty. I wrote it for every person who is self-conscious about their body. I wrote it for every human being who struggles to find happiness on a daily basis, and for anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed by the mere act of being alive. I’ve been there. We all have.”

I have been self-conscious about my body for most of my life.  Pretty much since puberty.  I got boobs before almost everyone in my class, and when I was about 13 all of a sudden I had a 30 pound weight gain over a year.  Nobody could figure out what had happened to me.  I went to all sorts of doctors, saw specialists.   It turns out that I had PCOS and getting my period had sent my hormones all out of whack.  Which caused the weight gain, which caused a whole other set of symptoms that made my teen years a self-conscious mess.  Going into college, I tried to be healthy.  I was terrified of gaining the freshman fifteen.  Yet because I didn’t have a car, and my campus was small enough, I walked everywhere.  The 15 stayed away.  But I still wasn’t exercising.  My sleep schedule was crap, my eating habits were crap.  You get the picture.

Then, my junior year of college, I took a yoga class.  And it changed my perspective on exercise completely.

The yoga class kicked my ass.  I would stumble out of that 10 am class covered in sweat, shaky and lightheaded.  I was lucky enough to not have a class right after, so I would walk back to my dorm and just pray that I could find the energy to continue.  But I kept going.  And then suddenly, it all clicked.  For the first time in forever, I could touch my toes.  I felt my shoulders settle from around my ears.  I felt loose in my spine and lighthearted in a way I hadn’t in ages.

This book reminds me of that in the best way.  Jessamyn Stanley talks about yoga and how it makes her feel in the most honest and understandable way.  She doesn’t cloak yoga in the technical terms, but instead speaks about it in a way that anyone could understand.  She talks about what you can use for props instead of purchasing expensive equipment if you are unable, and she makes you feel like anyone can try yoga, no matter their size, color, flexibility, etc.  I think for a lot of people, yoga can seem so intimidating, with the media emphasis on slight, slender fit bodies doing yoga in pristine studios with the most luxurious of clothes.  And for me, that’s just not the case.  I still use my mat that I bought for that college class, almost ten years later.  I tend to do yoga in sweatpants or shorts, with a cheap ass tank top from Walmart.  It works for me.

I think this book would be incredibly helpful for anyone that has been too scared to try yoga themselves, or who would like to see it from a different perspective.  I found her advice to be straightforward, clear, and kind.  The poses were thoroughly described and well photographed (and I loved that there were multiple people trying out the poses in the book- all shapes and sizes).  This is a great book to start your yoga collection, or to add more depth to one you might already have.

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