Curvy Yoga Teacher Urges Plus-Size Women to Fight Skinny Stereotypes

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Jessamyn Stanley might not have the body of a typical yogi, but she does have quite the skill. The 27-year-old yoga teacher from North Carolina has maintained an online community by promoting a body-positive image. She uploads photos of her in tight, fitting sport bras and bikinis and shrugs off negative comments on her Instagram—a refreshing sight to see in a world full of one body expectations.

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Stanley’s passion for yoga began when she stumbled upon Bikram yoga. Like many who have yet to find their calling, she wasn’t so sure if she wanted to pursue it. But after landing a Groupon given by a friend in graduate school, Stanley finally took the plunge and ended up loving the physical exercise.

Nowadays, she’s showing off her skills to her more than 150,000 followers on Instagram.

Stanley gained a lot of attention for not having an athletic body, but her skill has also attracted numerous sports brands to name her as an endorser for their products. Stanley is glad to promote them to her followers, along with some helpful yoga tips online. She has instructional videos and photos and even shares her progress.

“A lot of curvy people who practice yoga have defined limits in terms of how far they’re willing to go,” Stanley told PEOPLE. “They think they can probably do downward dog or tree pose, but they’re not going to try headstands or handstands. They’ll say, ‘I’m too fat.'”

Stanley has written once that she understands how intimidating it can be to practice yoga if you are what she calls a “curvy novice,” but she encourages women to not give up if they have the drive for it.

“If I do nothing else, I just want to make sure that people know that it literally doesn’t matter what your body looks like,” she said in an interview with the Daily Mail. “Not because your body can do anything, because that’s not the point of yoga. The point is to remember who you actually are.”

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