Back in 2012, Jessamyn Stanley started photographing her yoga poses and sharing them on Instagram. She was new to the practice, and felt at home on social media. "I quickly found my place in this virtual community and with it, a sense of inclusion and encouragement that I'd never felt in any live yoga class," says Jessamyn in her new book . Jessamyn then went on to become a certified yoga instructor and now travels the world teaching the practice (her Instagram account also has grown to almost 20,000 followers).
In her book, Jessamyn looks to show women and men that yoga is for everybody and every body—not just those who fit some sort of " slender yoga mold." Says Jessamyn, "You don't have to embody anything other than your truest and most honest self in order to practice yoga."
And the benefits of practicing yoga are real. For Jessamyn, she says, "It allows me to step outside of my mundane fears, endless obsessions, and senseless anger."
Here, Jessamyn shares five of her favorite poses featured in the book. You can do these right in your living room, and with practice start reaping all of yoga's rewards.
- Start in Mountain Pose* with your feet together or hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees and let your hips drop—as if sitting in a chair—with the weight coming into your heels.
- Draw your ribs into the midline of your body and sweep your arms up, shoulder-width apart. Keep shifting your lower legs back so you can still see your toes. Keep your shoulders relaxed and gaze skyward.
*Mountain Pose: Stand tall, with toes pointing forward either hip width apart or with your feet together and with big toes touching. Distribute your weight evenly through all four corners of your feet. Relax your shoulders, lengthen your neck, and let your arms relax at your sides. Look straight ahead and soften your gaze, allowing your facial muscles to relax.
Downward Facing Dog
- Begin on your hands and knees with your arms straight, your shoulders stacked over your wrists, and your hips stacked over your knees.
- Walk your hands about 6 inches ahead of your shoulders, curl your toes under, and lift your hips.
- Put a bend in your knees, drawing your chest toward your thighs. Walk forward, straightening your legs by pushing into your palms and lifting your hips up and back.
- Spread your fingers wide, distributing the weight evenly through your hands. Keep your arms straight with hands shoulder-distance apart, rotating your outer upper arms in, broadening across the shoulder blades and corseting your ribs inward.
- Press the tops of your thighs back while drawing the heels of your feet away from your toes, gradually guiding your heels toward the floor.
- Start in Mountain Pose with your feet hip-width apart. Step one foot back about one leg length and turn your back foot so it is at a 45-degree angle to the back edge of the mat. Keep your front foot parallel with the side of the mat. Your heels should line up.
- Square your hips forward and bend into your front knee until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Try to get your front knee and ankle to stack on top of each other.
- Keeping your back leg straight, sink your pelvis toward the floor, and sweep your arms straight up to the sky. Take a few breaths, then step your rear leg forward to meet your front leg and return to Mountain Pose. Switch to the opposite side.
- Start with your feet one leg length from each other. Rotate your front foot so it's parallel with the long edge of your mat and rotate your back foot so it's parallel with the short edge of your mat.
- Line up your front heel with your back foot's arch and bend deeply into your front knee so it lines up with your ankle (or as close as possible). You're trying to get your front thigh parallel to the ground—eventually. You may need to slide your front foot forward for this to happen.
- Try to keep your torso and pelvis neutral and stable, while corseting your ribs inward. Extend your arms until they are parallel to the floor with palms facing down. Gaze forward over your front fingers.
- Press into your front big toe and extend through your fingertips. Stay for a few breaths then straighten your front knee, turn your feet parallel with each other, and switch to the opposite side.
Extended Triangle Pose
- Starting with your feet one leg length from each other, rotate your left foot out about 90 degrees and your right foot in about 45 degrees, but keep your heels in one line.
- Extend your arms over your legs until they are parallel to the floor and bring your left arm and hand down to your left shin, ankle, foot, or the ground. If using a block, put it on the inside or outside of your left shin and place your hand on it.
- Extend your right arm straight up to the sky and try to stack your shoulders.
- Roll your torso open and lengthen through your head to draw long through the sides of your body. Keep pulling your right hip away from your left toes. Stay for a few breaths, then switch sides.
Excerpted from by Jessamyn Stanley (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Jonathan Conklin and Christine Hewitt.