Award Winning Yoga Instructor, Body Positivity Advocate & Author of 'Every Body Yoga.'
Jessamyn Stanley is an award winning yoga instructor, body positivity advocate, and author of ‘Every Body Yoga.’ She empowers her audience of over 550k, to break down barriers: both those that society has set and that they have set for themselves. Jessamyn has worked with brands like Kotex, Amazon, ThirdLove, ClassPass, and ESPN, as she continues to be the voice and face of an unrepresented demographic.
Jessamyn has been featured in many media outlets including The New York Times, Good Morning America, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Bustle, Buzzfeed, Shape, Out Magazine, New York Magazine, The Guardian, and Forbes. She recently broke boundaries for plus size bodies with her February 2019 cover of Yoga Journal.
Jessamyn is a leading voice on intersectional identity and 21st century yoga. She has won many awards for her social influence and unique approach to yoga. Along with producing her own content on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, Jessamyn also speaks across the country, advocating for body positivity, female empowerment as well as African American and LGBTQ inclusion.
In April 2019, Jessamyn launched an app titled The Underbelly, a series of yoga classes available by web, iOS, and Android. Jessamyn has a BA in Media Studies (2010) and A.A.S. in Culinary Arts (2013), as well as completed coursework for MFA in Performing Arts Management (2010-2012). When not traveling the world with her yoga mat in tow, Jessamyn, a North Carolina native, resides in Durham, North Carolina with her live-in partner and her 3 cats.
As a fat, black, queer yoga practitioner, I’m very familiar with the obstacles which prevent most people from feeling as though yoga is accessible. As a teacher, author, tech entrepreneur, and thought leader, I use my voice and platform to democratize the yoga experience. My mission is to make space for all people to authentically experience their Truth, and I travel around the world sharing my own journey towards self-acceptance.
I think I give the best restaurant recommendations ever- when it comes to food, I don’t mess around and I will never steer you wrong.
I think my bravery makes me the best version of myself.
I aspire to live a life where love is the only goal.
My greatest success thus far has been learning that I don’t always have to know everything and I don’t always have to know the right answer. Because there’s usually no right answer.
My motto is “Throw away yesterday. Today is a brand new day.”
Michelle Obama, Oprah, and Dr. Maya Angelou
Big Island, Hawaii and Denver, Colorado
Burt’s Bee’s Original lip balm and Dr. Bronner’s original bar soap.
Indoor gardening- I’ve always been terrible at keeping green things alive but I’m turning over a new leaf (so to speak!)
Breathe and move forward.
Be true to your commitments.
You’ve got nothing to prove.
How did you get into the industry?
I began teaching yoga in response to the overwhelming number of people from across the globe who literally asked me to teach them yoga because of my social media channels. And this isn’t a responsibility I took on willingly- I avoided becoming a teacher for a very long time, and constantly encouraged my followers to study with other established teachers. However, it became very clear that they were specifically asking for my perspective. Ultimately, my goal is to simply reach all of the people who asked me to teach them.
Any emerging industry trends?
Contrary to when I entered the industry, body positivity, diversity, and authenticity have become much trendier phrases for yoga and wellness brands to use when marketing themselves.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
The homogeny of the yoga industry creates endless barriers which have been known to hamper professional success for non-traditional yoga teachers. However, the egalitarian nature of the internet provides opportunities for marginalized voices that far exceed what’s been available in the past. I hope to see more non-traditional yoga teachers fully embrace the digital boutique fitness trend and step away from obsessively pursuing brick and mortar yoga studio culture.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
My inspiration for The Underbelly, my digital yoga studio platform, was to create an online yoga space that celebrates practitioners who are frequently excluded from the mainstream yoga world. My vision is for The Underbelly to serve as a safe haven for anyone who has ever felt as though they don’t “fit in.”
What’s next for the Business in the near future?
I’m extremely excited that The Underbelly will launch internationally by fall 2019, with access available across a wide range of new platforms, including Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Our key initiative is to build a community of strong and loyal yoga practitioners. As The Underbelly’s success continues to be driven by word of mouth from our subscribers, we strive to make their experiences the primary focus of our attention.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
The most difficult part of starting The Underbelly has undoubtedly been balancing the demands of my full-time yoga teaching calendar with building a tech start-up from the ground up. I learned that even when the water gets choppy and the going gets tough, there’s always time to find a smile.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
The ideal experience for a practitioner is for them to feel fully present with themselves, even if it’s only for a few breaths.
How do you motivate others?
I motivate others by making space for them to be themselves and making it clear that their voices are imperative and inspiring.
Career advice to those in your industry?
My advice is to always listen to your gut, no matter what.
A Day in My Life:
What do you love most about Your City?
I love that even though it’s expanding and there’s always something new to do, it also feels like a small town and you’re always going to run into people you know.
Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?
Nzinga’s is one of my favorite breakfast spots and I love their red velvet waffles, red hot sausages, scrambled eggs and grits.
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – silencing my alarm clock
10:00 AM – practicing yoga/meditating/riding my spin bike
12:00 PM – Favorite Lunch spot/meal?
Dashi ramen- I love to order the mazamen with a hot green tea
7:00 PM – I’m probably still at my office or going to a meeting
11:00 PM – cuddling with my cats and resting for the day ahead
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
Water with lemon juice- I try to aim for a few quarts every day.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
Spotify, all day every day. Music is life.
What should everyone try at least once?
Carrying a book to read in spare moments instead of staring at a phone screen.
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
Cities that are new to me, when I have lots of free time. Also, really huge thrift stores.