Finding self-acceptance both on and off the mat.
In Sanskrit, yoga means to "yoke." To yoke mind and body, movement and breath, light and dark, the good and the bad. This larger idea of "yoke" is what Jessamyn Stanley calls the yoga of the everyday--a yoga that is not just about perfecting your downward dog but about applying the hard lessons learned on the mat to the even harder daily project of living.
In a series of deeply honest, funny autobiographical essays, Jessamyn explores everything from imposter syndrome to cannabis to why it's a full-time job loving yourself, all through the lens of yoke. She calls out an American yoga complex that prefers debating the merits of cotton versus polyblend leggings rather than owning up to its overwhelming Whiteness. She questions why the Western take on yoga so often misses--or misuses--the tradition's spiritual dimension. And reveals what she calls her own "whole-ass problematic" Growing up Bah , loving astrology, learning to meditate, finding prana in music.
And in the end, Jessamyn invites every reader to find the authentic spirit of yoke--linking that good and that bad, that light and that dark.
- ISBN-13: 9781523505210
- ISBN-10: 1523505214
- Publisher: Workman Publishing
- Publish Date: June 2021
- Dimensions: 7.48 x 4.96 x 0.63 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.57 pounds
- Page Count: 208
In the introductory essay of Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance, Jessamyn Stanley relates the time a reader, who happened to be a freelance editor, found a mistake in the early pages of Stanley’s first book, Every Body Yoga. Stanley was attempting to define the Sanskrit word for yoga, which means “to yoke” or “to join together the light and dark of life, the good and the bad . . . to marry breath, thought, and movement, to connect the body, mind, and spirit.” Instead of writing the word yoke, however, Stanley had inadvertently written yolk. Oops.
Anger and shame ensued—a welter of feelings that propelled Stanley to her yoga mat for some calming breaths. Thus, Yoke was born, a collection of 13 autobiographical essays that are brash (with salty language aplenty), outspoken, funny, insightful, honest and occasionally spiced with dashes of self-deprecating melodrama.
The essays in Yoke explore Stanley’s belief that “everything is yoga, every day,” and that fully entering yoga/yoke means integrating the light and dark of life with the hardscrabble work of everyday living. “My yoga has many intersections and edges,” she writes, “because like the universe, I’m always unfolding. My yoga is finding out what it means to be a Black queer woman in a world that doesn’t want me to be.” Her reflections on topics such as meditation, imposter syndrome, wealth inequality, racism, cannabis use, sexual abuse and the sacredness of music are heartfelt and often searing. She is strongly declarative, and this makes for a narrative that allows readers to really know this author, which is, after all, what many readers want: connection.
While the writing occasionally meanders or goes a bit off point, any discomfort readers might feel in response to Stanley’s blunt-edged anger can give rise to self-reflection and stir compassion for our collective human frailty and suffering. But this honest chronicle of a journey toward self-acceptance and purpose wraps on a bright note. As Stanley writes, "I’m enough. Exactly as I am right now. I don’t need to know more or do more or be different at all."