Naked yoga: Jessamyn Stanley honours body acceptance and the divinity within
Jessamyn Stanley is an award-winning voice in wellness, known for her take on social and cultural issues including the modern Black experience, anti-fat bias, LGBTQIA+ representation, and equity in the health industry. So why naked yoga? She finds it much easier to engage with her body without worrying about the clothes she is wearing. Jessamyn believes that naked yoga benefits mental wellness by honouring the divinity that lives within yourself.
In an interview with Vogue she says, “For me, practicing naked and really, truly being forced to accept my body – like, being able to touch it in ways that I was told not to touch because I was taught to be very ashamed in my body, and I started […] feeling deep shame about it – has been transformational in how I show up in my day-to-day life.”
Jessamyn is passionate about disabling the false idea that yoga is just for one type of person and one type of body. Her naked yoga practice is a way of advocating body positivity; all body types should be seen and accepted, not just the polished, ‘instagrammable’ ones. Body positivity is about acknowledging that all body types are worthy of inclusion. She also advocates radically accepting the body, believing that yoga is a deep connection with yourself in the here and now.
In an interview with Happiful, she says, “During a postural yoga practice, I tend to feel like it’s a rare opportunity to come into full connection with my physical body. My tendency towards body dysmorphia and depression means that I can get out of touch with my body rather quickly, and yoga helps pull me back to the moment so that I can take ownership of this incredibly powerful machine that I’ve been granted during this lifetime.”
Experiencing the present moment is part of mindful living. We can often get caught up in the past or the future, rather than paying full attention to the here and now. Yoga is a way of being aware of the body and the breath to promote overall wellbeing. If you practise yoga you might have noticed how good you feel after, this is because it can help increase the mind-body connection and reduce anxiety.
Therapy Directory highlights some of the mindful benefits of this ancient practice.
Jessamyn promotes naked yoga as a way to be rooted in the present moment. It is this moment-to-moment experience that helps combat negative thinking. In their article, Love the skin you are in, counsellor Joanna Bieszczad explains the importance of being in the here and now as a way to deal with self-image issues.
“Attention training is the principle of refocusing the mind away from the constant barrage of negative and obsessive thoughts that swamp the mind. It is all too easy for the brain to perform more than one task, so we can still get on with our day while allowing the negative thoughts to keep processing. Bringing your attention back to the moment and retraining the brain to focus only on the task at hand can help to lessen the preoccupation.”
Body acceptance is simply accepting your body as it is right now. But the relationship we have with our bodies can sometimes be complicated. We can get caught in the trap of thinking negatively or critically about the way we look. Could it be that spending more time with our naked bodies helps this sense of discontent?
The idea of naked yoga might give you a feeling of absolute dread but research has found that spending more time naked can increase life satisfaction and body self-esteem. So when you think of it, naked yoga might just be the perfect way to be truly present with the physical self.
About Jessamyn Stanley
A regular contributor to SELF magazine, Jessamyn has been featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine (UK), SELF, featured on Good Morning America and covered in the New York Times, Vogue, Glamour & Sports Illustrated. Her first book, Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear. Get On the Mat. Love Your Body, has inspired audiences to discover the power of yoga and set forth on a path for personal development.
Her highly anticipated second book, YOKE: My Yoga of Self Acceptance was released in June 2021. In a series of deeply honest, funny, gritty, thoughtful, and largely autobiographical essays, Yoke explores issues of self-love, body-positivity, race, sex and sexuality through the lens of an authentic yoga practice.
She is the founder of The Underbelly, a streaming wellness app with digital yoga classes available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire as a way of helping individuals live authentically. With an inclusive approach to wellbeing, it is a home for those who may feel displaced, discouraged, or overlooked due to not seeing themselves reflected in the health and fitness community.
Ready to reach out for support with a professional using Therapy Directory or find out more about the benefits of yoga?