When Jessamyn Stanley was in graduate school six years ago, a friend invited her to join her in a Bikram yoga class. Stanley, who was going through a severe period of depression at the time, tried to skip it. “I didn’t want to go, but she wore me down, and I wound up loving it!” she recalls. “It was extremely difficult and moved me far out of my comfort zone.”
She continued to attend yoga classes, finding that it gave her the space she needed to move past her perceived limitations. “I was always the fattest person there and frequently the only person of color, but it helped me see beyond the definitions that I was drawing for myself at school and at work. I pushed myself there in a way I was not able to do in my day-to-day life,” she says.