Super Flexin'
In an effort to get our summer bodies on point and our spirituality in check, we called on sexy Yoga Instructor, Jess Taras, to balance us out. Namaste.
Words: Sean Malcom
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

“I’ve always lived by the phrase, ‘Whatever you do, make it art,’” says Jess Taras, the 27-year-old yoga instructor who has turned heads and gained a bevy of likes with her flexible poses on her #YogaAfterDark nightly entries on Instagram—where she has 181,000 followers. “Naturally, I put my own spin on my practice. I do things differently, I move differently.”

While these pages are usually reserved for buxom video vixens and reality stars who flaunt their feminine phat aside your favorite artists, we hat tip to those who use their social media presence to promote fitness and spiritual well being. Jess, a six-year yoga teaching vet out of Los Angeles—with her own impressive 32DD-25-35 bodily dimensions—does this in spades. “My yoga practice is a celebration of all aspects of the human body and the physical experience,” says the Nigerian and White beauty who also moonlights as a fine art model. “Our society has been so conditioned to see a woman’s body as vulgar that we’re missing out on something really magical. I want to capture that.”

And while capturing the limits the human form can, uh, stretch, one post at a time— and clothing optional—Jess has no qualms about how her expression is perceived. “There have been times where I have taken a pic and thought twice,” she admits. “But I realized the only thing holding me back was a fear of what others might think. So, I said, ‘Fuck it’ and posted it anyway.”

Keep doing you, boo.

XXL: It seems as if yoga is the new wave among the social media landscape. We’re pretty sure this pleases your chakra.

Jess Taras: I’m ecstatic that yoga is finally gaining mainstream popularity! Knowing that I’ve helped create this movement means so much to me. I take what I do very seriously. I’ve trained for over a decade under renowned instructors around the world, hold multiple certifications and teach at the top gyms and studios in Los Angeles. However, now it seems like anyone can add “fitness” in their social media bio and market themselves as health gurus. I want to make sure that we’re intelligent in our approach to fitness and that we seek out instructors who are educated and experienced, while also nurturing and inspiring new yogis.

What are the misconceptions about the practice, if any?

To a lot of people, yoga seems like something only for rich White suburbanites, or only for women, or only for people with a certain body type. I want people to know that yoga is for everybody. Every. Body. The beauty of yoga is that it’s whatever you make it. It’s your practice.

Even though you’re promoting the art of yoga, your pics are, well, provocative. We’re sure your DMs are lit.

Most of the messages I get are from supporters who have taken the time to let me know that they appreciate or are inspired by what I do. It makes me so happy to read those messages and to know that someone is living healthier and feeling better about themselves because of me. I aim to inspire, especially women, so those types of messages make me smile.

Aw, how sweet...

Then...there’s the dick pics. So many. All shapes and sizes. It’s diabolical. I read somewhere that a guy sending a dick pic is like a cat giving a dead bird as a gift. So true!

Check out more from XXL’s Summer 2016 issue including our 2015 XXL Freshman year-end report card; Joey Badass, Raury and Dizzy Wright talk about The Four AgreementsMadeintyo‘s Show & Prove interview, Bump J speaking straight from prison, What's Happenin' with Cardi B, Le'Veon Bell's spittin' skills and more.