Working Out On Your Period Is The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Body, According To Jessamyn Stanley
Jessamyn Stanley is a pioneer when it comes to breaking down tired and damaging cultural ideas about fitness. As an internationally celebrated yoga teacher, author of the book Every Body Yoga, and U by Kotex® Fitness spokesperson, Stanley got her start simply by documenting her personal, at-home yoga routine on the internet. Since she doesn't exactly embody the media's typical depiction of a master yoga practitioner, it makes her presence all the greater and more refreshing. Nothing has stopped her from continuing to challenge traditional standards in the fitness world, and most recently, she's tackling the stigma of working out on your period.
Elite Daily had the pleasure of speaking with Stanley, who shares some of her wisdom and inspiration when it comes to that time of the month, as well as what she considers the main drive behind all of her incredible work: the journey of being comfortable with yourself.
For women, that definitely includes your period. Stanley says, even now, she constantly hears women talking about how they didn't know they could practice yoga on their period. "I'm like, how could you not know that?" she laughs. “What are we filling people's heads with?”
She tells Elite Daily,
We live in this world where we are obsessed with changing our bodies as opposed to nurturing them, so when you're on your period practicing yoga, you're really just nurturing your body. You're massaging your uterus; you're trying to make yourself more comfortable.
In general, women feel like they can't exercise on their periods, or that there's only certain things they can do. People wonder what's going to happen to their bodies. But really, what's happening to your body when you do yoga on your period is what needs to happen to your body.
A lot of these outdated ideas, Stanley explains, come from an old ideal of perfection people struggle with.
And she says this is especially true for women and their relationship with exercise. She explains that people still believe “there's a certain way your body should look in order to exercise.” One of those ideas -- which she herself has beautifully disproven -- is that you have to be a certain size. “Being a fat-bodied person, I don't have the body that people tend to associate with being fit or healthy or exercising," the 30-year-old yoga teacher tells Elite Daily.
It has always been Stanley's mission to question the reach of these damaging and shaming fitness standards, and how that affects the “condition” we believe our bodies should be in in order to practice yoga and exercise.
Again, people have those same kinds of stigmas and backward ideas around 'that time of the month.' And I think there is shame that comes along for women with their periods, as well -- feeling like you have to hide something away. The fact that that stigma exists is just so off-balance for me.
Stanley believes that these old ideas, in many ways, come right back to the dang patriarchy:
When I say it comes back to the patriarchy, I mean that I think there's still this notion that women need to be kept 'below,' or put in a certain box, and this idea that we all need to conform to something. That doesn't just connect to how we feel about our menstrual cycle, but it connects to how we feel about ourselves in general.
When it comes to a woman's period, Stanley says, we should encourage her to allow that part of herself to shine, rather than suggest it's a time she needs to hide herself away. It's that time of the month when a woman should enjoy feeling especially powerful. “It's proof that you can give life,” she reminds us. “It's about something so much bigger.”
Stanley says getting in touch with her menstrual cycle has also really deepened the spiritual aspects of her yoga practice.
Yoga has connected her on an even deeper level to what's going on inside her body. She tells Elite Daily,
It's not just me thinking, 'Yay! I love to practice yoga on my period because it feels good!' It's more [about] being in touch with who I really am. I am an animal! I am a creature of light and darkness! I am something that can give life -- and I am a product of another being that gave life.
While she doesn't think we currently live in a world that wants us to have that kind of deep communication with ourselves, the inspiring yogi confidently concludes, "I think everyone deserves to have that conversation."
Damn right, girl.