The Life and Mantras of an International Yoga Teacher, Writer and Blogger

The Life and Mantras of an International Yoga Teacher, Writer and Blogger

Jessamyn Stanley balances her personal practice with a work life centered on sharing her yoga experience with others

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Photo by Briana Brough
Photo by Briana Brough

Born in Greensboro, Jessamyn originally discovered yoga when she was coerced as a teenager to attend hot yoga classes with her aunt. She rediscovered the practice six years ago, writing about her “yogapades” for three years and professionally teaching yoga for one. She lives in Duke Forest.


If you’re looking for a new Bull City local to follow on Instagram – that is, if you don’t already follow her (she has more than 171,000 followers these days) – consider Jessamyn (@mynameisjessamyn). Not only are her photos striking in the way she’s able to bend and shape her body into new forms using yoga techniques, but the messages paired with her images are meant to empower – as is her popular blog “My Name is Jessamyn” (mynameisjessamyn.tumblr.com), where she discusses serious cultural issues alongside inside jokes and playful anecdotes. Jessamyn’s approachable tone highlights her fervor for life and confidence in self, and her feed – filled with photos taken against the backdrops of destinations like London and Dubai– will leave you yearning to explore. She’ll make you laugh, meditate, wonder and read on.

“My work life is frenetic and constantly evolving, which is highly motivational and inspirational for me as an entrepreneur. Because my business life encompasses many different categories – from teaching live and online classes, to managing digital brand relationships and collaborations, to organizing international yoga workshops, to freelance writing and beyond – I am constantly on my toes and working on a million projects at once.

There are a few aspects that stay the same in my day: I always find time for my home yoga practice, whether it’s starting my day with a 30-minute flow or ending it with a two-hour late night restorative practice. I try to carve out at least 10 to 30 minutes for daily meditation time.

My [average day] is always characterized by an ample amount of
time being ‘plugged in,’ answering email correspondence and engaging in social media. Yet, social media can be a very time-absorbing and isolating industry. I have to counter-balance the time I spend ‘plugged in’ with time being 100% unplugged – turning off my phone and computer and spending actual contact time with my friends and family. When I’m home and have free time on my hands, I like to spend it with my friends doing the activities that Durhamites enjoy most: sunning on the banks of the Eno River, brunching in the backyard of Geer Street Garden, sipping coffee on the patio at Cocoa Cinnamon. … It makes me so happy to live in a small town with big city idealism, and the pleasure of my life is just absorbing all of the small moments that make big happiness.

My two life philosophies are tattooed on my arms to ensure I never forget them – ‘esse quam videri,’ the N.C. state motto meaning ‘to be, rather than to seem,’ always reminds me to be genuine and authentic no matter the cost. Also, Helen Keller (one of my idols and birthday twin) said, ‘What I’m looking for is not out there, it is in me.’ I work in an industry that is liable to be congested by narcissism and greed. … I constantly remind myself not to fall prey to those devils and to only look within myself for the answers to life’s most pressing questions.

I didn’t find happiness in my professional life until I stopped trying to have the career that my teachers and parents told me I should seek. I think the landscape for professional work is extremely different than it was even 10 to 20 years ago,
and entrepreneurship is king in a way that it really hasn’t been
since the advent of The New Deal. It’s imperative for millennials to acknowledge this shift in the world and build careers that exist outside the boxes constructed for us by a dying generation.”


Jessamyn’s Mantras

• Learn the rules so that you can break them.

• Stand strong in the face of adversity.

• Don’t listen when people tell you “no,” and find ways to   circumvent boundaries that don’t serve you.

• Take responsibility for the future of our society, and create accordingly.

• Make art, make art, make art. Art exists in every possible field/genre, and it’s the only thing that remains when we’re gone.

• See yourself as a vessel for change, and be the change you wish to see.

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Laura Zolman Kirk
Assistant Editor Laura Zolman Kirk is a Kentuckian turned North Carolinian who can't get enough of this buzzing community.