Jessamyn Stanley isn't your typical yogi. She was first introduced to hot yoga as a teen. She hated every second of it. She wouldn't try it again until grad school, when a friend encouraged her to take advantage of a Groupon that gave Stanley access to one free month at a Bikram yoga studio. "I was intrigued by how self-satisfying the practice could be," she says. "Unlike other physical activities, yoga awakened my spiritual curiosity even when I was pressed against the boundary of physical exhaustion." Stanley has been practicing yoga since 2011 and has 82,000 followers on Instagram. She knows she's not what people imagine when they think "yoga instructor" but that doesn't slow her down. She inspires her followers by posting images of herself in challenging poses.
It is very easy for us to yield to stereotypes or make judgments on the ability of others based on their appearance but Stanley is a perfect example of how dangerous that thinking could be. If an instructor is knowledgeable, helpful, accepting of your own goals and serious about their own commitment to activity, what difference does it make what she looks like? We say none. Appearance means nothing when the trainer is on point with the information and the program. What do you think? Would you feel strange working with an obese trainer or do you think there are other, far more important factors, to consider?