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Jessamyn Stanley and ashe danger phoenix on Their RV Life

Jessamyn Stanley and Ash Danger Phoenix on Their RV Life

Author of Every Body Yoga and partner take their lives, love, yoga, and podcast on the road.

Jessamyn Stanley has gained international fame for almost single-handedly cracking open the world of yoga and wellness to make room for those without stick figures. Her first book, Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body, has inspired a legion of queer, fat, trans, and/or BIPOC people around the world to discover the potential of yoga. Her 2021 follow-up, Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance, delved deeper into Stanley’s expansive self-love and body-positivity, and explored intersections of race, sex, and sexuality.

Stanley is also cofounder of The Underbelly, a streaming wellness app with digital yoga classes. Stanley’s partner, ashe danger phoenix, is a producer with The Underbelly, and the two also cohost Dear Jessamyn (named by Harper’s Bazaar as one of the best sex podcasts), based around questions Stanley receives from fans “loving outside the box.”

Breaking out of their own box, last year Stanley and phoenix sold their house, bought an RV, and took their podcast on the open road. Out Traveler recently caught up with the couple to learn more about camper life, love, and yoga.

 

Jessamyn Stanley and Ash Danger Phoenix on Their RV Life

 

Why did you sell your house and hit the road?

Stanley: Have you ever been told by the universe that it is time for you to leave? That happened to us.

phoenix: The way the universe lines things up when it is “right,” that’s the way this lined up.

Stanley: It was impossible for us to stay. ashe has always been interested in living smaller and living mobile-y. I have never been interested in that, but we both really enjoy travel. The opportunity to discover this nation instead of staying in one place — felt like an opportunity that was too good to pass up. It was definitely a pretty spontaneous decision, but it was also heavily facilitated by the forces of the universe.

I’ve lived in an RV with my wife for months, so I know it’s not as glamorous as some Instagram accounts may have you believe. Do you have a #Fail story you can share?

Stanley: We have. So. Many. Fail. Stories. Are they really “fails” when you learn something?

phoenix: Lesson stories. We broke everything when we first left.

Stanley: We learned firsthand why you shouldn’t have a lot of glass and ceramic in an RV.

phoenix: The first time I went to dump the composting toilet, I didn’t have the bag secured and shit went everywhere.

Stanley: We learned you can’t dump your urine bucket into a restroom toilet, or the state trooper will ask you to leave the campground. It’s been an unglamorous RVing experience…

phoenix: We went up to Vermont to see the leaves fall, and we went to a clothing-optional campground, but it doesn’t work to not wear clothes in the autumn in Vermont.

 

Jessamyn Stanley and Ash Danger Phoenix on Their RV Life

 

What has been the best part?

phoenix: We’re closer as a couple than we ever were. It shoves you together and then you have an imprint of each other.

Stanley: It’s like you have to work through shit. You have to work things out.

The worst?

phoenix: I adore living in a camper. But the hardest thing is running out of propane when it’s cold.

Stanley: Propane and Wi-Fi cellular connectivity are the hardest parts.

It feels like living together in such tight quarters either brings couples closer or causes conflict.

Stanley: I think it brings up conflict that if you lived in a house or bigger space (or separately), you wouldn’t have to deal with the same things in the same way.

phoenix: The resentments that get shoved under the rug… there’s not a lot of rug space in an RV.

Stanley: There’s a lot to be learned about how to make space for each other and how to be patient with each other. Just in the last couple months we have started wearing headphones when we are in the same space to give us some private space. It’s brought us closer together but also pushed us farther apart.

phoenix: You have to purge what is unnecessary, get rid of the bullshit because there isn’t room for it — but that uncovers the hard truths.

 

Jessamyn Stanley and Ash Danger Phoenix on Their RV Life

 

Is it difficult to maintain your yoga regimen on the road?

Stanley: No, I think it was a necessary tool to maintain sanity.

phoenix: The RV is about getting creative about everything. We figured out galley yoga — the two of us both doing yoga (my head is touching the toilet and she’s almost on the bed) in the RV. It’s a different practice: You have all this wall and these nooks and you can use the RV as one big prop. It also forces you to practice outside when it is nice out. Net gain.

Stanley: The nonphysical yoga practice is a requirement of being on the road. This has been the biggest incubator for my personal practice ever. If we are not both practicing rituals (not just postural yoga), I can tell the days on the road when I am not practicing. It’s a reminder to keep coming back to the practices.

You are probably the only folks doing yoga in campgrounds.

Stanley: [to phoenix] Have you seen anyone else practicing yoga?

phoenix: No.

Stanley: There definitely weren’t many people practicing yoga poses out in the open, and certainly not fat queers like us. I remember some people in Pennsylvania watching us practice. Just by existing unapologetically, we defy a lot of stereotypes.

What was your favorite stop on your camping adventure?

Stanley: Tioga, Pennsylvania, I loved so much. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, and we stayed for a couple weeks. It was so beautiful and not too cold, and I think so fondly of it. I had never heard of it before, which is one of the most incredible parts of being on the road — you can fly by the seat of your pants and learn about people and places that you wouldn’t learn about otherwise.

 

Jessamyn Stanley and Ash Danger Phoenix on Their RV Life

 

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

Stanley: Living on the road is the best ever. For the first six months, we were 100 percent living on the road, which was isolating in a particular way. Now that we found a satellite posting where we can cast our anchor, I miss some parts of…the road. The solitude that it offers…. We’ve seen an outlandish number of beautiful things together — it’s an incredible way to open your heart and spirit, and let go of some of the things that hold us down.

phoenix: It’s the kind of lifestyle that is full tilt. There is no downtime. A few square feet, it takes only 20 minutes to clean every surface, but you have to do it every day. Being extremely organized is imperative. In order to function you have to be 100 percent present with your space. I love it, and it is also exhausting.

Stanley: I’ve never lived up to this level of routine before, and it was a shock to the system. There was a learning curve. There is a fastidiousness required, but it makes it easier to relax in some ways because there is so much structure.

This piece originally ran in Out Traveler print magazine. The Spring 2022 issue is now available on newsstands.

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