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You would think that the Modern yoga world would be a relatively safe space, free of sizephobia and jugement, but that is far from reality. (196)
I picked up Jessamyn’s book, Every Body Yoga, after I started following her on Instagram. I liked how different and real she was with her followers. She isn’t the typical face of yoga you see pushed at you from all directions by the media: white, thin, cishet (a person who is both cisgendered and heterosexual), able-bodied, young woman. Yeah, she fits some of those descriptors, able-bodied and young woman, but her active role in the online yoga community is bringing a new voice and image into the largely homogeneous group of practitioners featured online by the big yoga companies and magazines.
Every Body Yoga is aimed at those starting out in their yoga journey. She walks you through how to start a home practice and includes several sequences to try out. Detailed photos explain the postures and what actions your body should be doing. In the sequences, she then uses page numbers to direct you back to the in depth explanation of each posture.
Her personality totally shines through in her writing and she endears herself to her readers by writing as if you’ve just sat down at a table over a cup of coffee or tea for a chat. I personally enjoyed how much she talked about her life in Durham, NC since I’m from that area myself. When she shared about her first yoga class experience with her aunt and how they got “restorative” Cook Out milkshakes afterwards, I was grinning ear to ear. I looveee Cook Out milkshakes. Cook Out is probably my first stop after landing back in NC after traveling. Like…first before saying hello to my parents first. And while Jessamyn and I may disagree on the best flavor (it’s Oreo mint, by the way), I couldn’t help but also feel like her book was transporting me back home.
Jessamyn writes a lot about her personal life and journey with yoga in this book. She talks about her doubts, social anxiety, grief, alcohol problems, her relationship with her body, and so much more. Through all of these topics she brings it back to yoga. She touches on how yoga has helped her build healthier boundaries and relationships with herself and others. She challenges society’s ideal image of beauty and the Western definition of healthy, which has “somehow become completely synonymous with the Western definition of the word thin.” (173)
The core message of her book can actually be found in the introduction. It reads:
Yoga is for EVERY BODY. You don’t have to be thin and you don’t have to be fat. You don’t have to be a specific color or commit to a specific diet. You don’t have to earn (or have access to) a certain amount of money. You don’t have to embody anything other than your truest and most honest self in order to practice yoga. (ix)
Above anything else, this book is an encouragement to start a yoga practice. It’s an affirmation that you can do it. Jessamyn approaches asana (the physical postures of a yoga practice) as the stepping stones to focus inward and “draw conclusions about ourselves and the world at large.” (218) Her honesty, candor, and no bullshit approach to yoga makes this book an entertaining as well as informative read.
Don’t hem yourself in, don’t guilt yourself for being a busy person, and don’t try to change who you are–accept the weirdness of your life, and build a yoga practice around it. (57)
Have you read this book? What did you think? Are there any other books similar you can recommend? I’m always on the hunt for new reads…