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Exclusive: Jessamyn Stanley on Body Positivity, Naked Yoga, and Making Wellness More Inclusive

Jessamyn Stanley on Body Positivity, Naked Yoga, and Making Wellness More Inclusive
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The yoga instructor activist tells The Advocate Channel all about her OnlyFans classes, and how mental health equates to physical health.

Some may know her as the Beyonce of yoga, but for all bodies, Jessamyn Stanley is an advocate.

The queer instructor and writer is best known for her work in the fitness community, spreading her message of body positivity to a diverse audience.

"To me, body positivity is to accept your body as it is right now," Stanley tells Sonia Baghdady of Advocate Now. "To say, 'I'm perfect today.' And then from that place, from that sense of happiness, 'What can I do? What am I capable of?'"

When it comes to defining "healthy," Stanley says that too many people misguidedly believe that skinny equates to health.

"There's so many stereotypes about who is well, what wellness looks like, and traditionally, it's very white, it's very cisgender, very heterosexual, it's very thin, it's very wealthy — there's no inclusion of the different pieces of all of us. The fact that we each rest at the center of so many different intersections," she says. "Anyone who's marginalized experiences that more than anyone.

Advocate Now | Jessamyn Stanley

Stanley believes that "health" is the well-being of all aspects of a person's life, not just their bodies. For her, "spiritual wellness" is the key to healthy living, though it's not often discussed in fitness circles.

"Spiritual wellness is something that I certainly was not taught to prioritize at all. I was taught to think about my physical health first, and that mental health, emotional health — they're pretty much irrelevant," Stanley shares. "But in my mind, to unite your physical health and your mental health and your emotional health, is to experience your spiritual health. It's not about any one component, and it's not about any one day."

She adds: "I think when we minimize the conversation to be about physical health, and we say that it's all about thinness, we're really only looking at one piece of the puzzle.

Stanley has recently received praise for her OnlyFans channel, where she teaches yoga classes while naked. She says being naked during the exercise can bring people closer to their bodies, and that by being open with herself, she is able to instill confidence in others.

"What I've noticed about showing my physical body in all its glory — with clothing and without — it encourages and inspires people who don't look anything like me to own their bodies. And I just think that mission in itself is too powerful, it's too good to be limited anywhere."

Stanley adds: "There's a lot that we could do to expand the idea of healthy -- so that it's inclusive yes, and inclusive of many different body types -- but also so that it actually leads to us all being healthier together."

For more interviews like these, watch Advocate Now on The Advocate Channel.

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