Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley is a book that tackles body image, the fundamentals of yoga, the history of yoga, and much more. I’m not writing a full review of this book because I didn’t read the entire thing. There’s a giant block of the book devoted to how to do specific yoga poses. Given that I’ve been doing yoga for two years now, I’m already familiar with these poses* and thus skipped that section. I read the rest, however, and feel like this is a really good book that more people need to read. Compromise: Write a not-review on my Wellness Wednesday series!
The book is segmented into five sections. There’s a general section on current yoga practice and the way the author isn’t exactly the standard model of what America thinks when they think about yoga. There’s a history of yoga combined with a comparison of the ancient practice versus the modern practice. This section also includes a guide to the different kinds of yoga currently out there, as well as a discussion on the full breadth of the practice (which includes far more than the fitness/poses aspects). Then there’s the actual poses laid out in text and photo. These are the ones I skipped, though I can say they are well done and I wish I’d had this book back when I started! Then there’s a memoir-like section tied in with various yoga sequences, and a conclusion section.
I think there’s a lot to be gained from the book. Some parts were more interesting to me than others. I’m not really much of a memoir person, for instance, but I loved learning more about the adaptation of yoga over time and the parts of the practice not usually tackled by modern-day classes. In fact, I want to get my hands on a copy of this book (I currently have the library’s copy) just for the in-depth discussion of the eight-limbed path.** I like that Stanley included references to other resources, and that she included photography of yoga poses not just of herself, but of other people who may not normally fit the thin-blond-white-suburban-mom image normally in popular yoga portrayals. Additionally, she’s the first person who’s gotten me interested in trying out a personal fear of mine, the Bikram yoga class***.
On a more personal note, I find Stanley to be extremely inspirational. As a plus-sized person myself, it’s amazing to see what yoga can help a body to do no matter your size. I’ve definitely had increases in my flexibility over the last few years (see pics!), and I hope to increase that even more in years to come. I have a lot to learn, but people like Stanley give me a lot of hope.
*Except the dolphin pose. I’ve never seen that one or been asked to do anything like it in my home practice. I definitely need to try it out.
**Haven’t heard of it? Neither had I before reading this book, and I’ve been doing yoga for two years now. I highly recommend either looking it up or taking a peak at this book. Stanley explains far better than I ever could.
***This involves doing over an hour of yoga in a boiling hot and super-humid room, which generally sounds like a nightmare.