Category Archives: Curvy Yoga

Why Yoga is Definitely Not About Touching Your Toes, Guest Post by Anna Guest-Jelley

annakindness

Anna Guest-Jelley is one of the kindest people I know. She is one of the people who — even though she’d never met me in person — reached out to me when my Dexter died, offered comfort. She is one of the reasons I decided to start yoga teacher training, made me feel it was possible, that I was allowed. She gently guides my yoga practice and my teaching from afar, with her blog posts and videos and newsletter and emails, reminding me that not only are modifications acceptable, they are absolutely necessary, that yoga is truly for every body. She consistently reminds me that we can trust our bodies, love ourselves.

Anna has a new book out. I just got my copy in the mail yesterday and I can’t stop reading it. I was so happy when she offered to do a guest post, and I’m so happy to share it with you today, kind and gentle reader.

curvyyoga

No you can’t borrow it, get your own

Anna’s bio: Anna Guest-Jelley is the founder of Curvy Yoga, an online yoga studio and teacher training center that helps people of all sizes find true acceptance and freedom, both on and off the mat.

Anna is the author of Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body a Little More Each Day and the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body. To learn more about Curvy Yoga, visit www.CurvyYoga.com


Why Yoga is Definitely Not About Touching Your Toes

Have you ever thought something like, “I’d love to practice yoga but I can’t because there’s no way I’m touching my toes?”

If you have, you’re definitely not alone! Pretty much everyone thinks that, or at least their own version of it. Many of us think we’re either too much of something or not enough of something else to practice yoga. And I totally understand why people get this idea. Mainstream representations of yoga tend to show thin, uber-flexible bodies in poses that look like they belong in Cirque du Soleil.

But I, for one, won’t be putting my leg behind my head anytime soon — at least not without a trip to the hospital.

Image by Emily Gnetz

Image by Emily Gnetz

Yoga for You

Here’s the thing about those poses: while they’re available to and work for a small minority of bodies, that’s not true for the vast majority of bodies. I’ll say that again because I think it bears repeating: if your body isn’t going to be doing those poses anytime soon, or ever, you’re not an anomaly. That is the truth for most bodies, by far.

I was pretty much the opposite of a sporty kid. I was a total bookworm who you’d be much more likely to find curled up in a corner reading than out kicking a ball around with friends. The primary times I moved my body were when I went to aerobics with my mom as a middle-schooler, already deep in the throes of what would become a multiple-decade run with chronic dieting.

So it probably isn’t hard to imagine what it was like when I first tried yoga. I had no idea what I was doing, and my body was (and still is) far from the slender, toned and flexible bodies on the videos I first practiced with. I live in a short, curvy body, and many of the traditional yoga pose instructions do not work for me.

Creating Your Own Path

For many years, I blamed myself for this self-perceived “problem.” I thought once I finally lost weight, got “in shape,” or otherwise made myself into a totally different person, I’d finally “get it” and yoga would work for me.

But then one day I had a thought that changed my life: “What if my body isn’t a problem?”

Mind = blown.

From there on out, I started to make yoga work for me, not the other way around. And eventually, I started to teach other people how to do the same for themselves.

What Matters in Yoga

I’m a huge Amy Poehler fan. In her book Yes Please she says something that has stuck with me ever since I read it. She writes: “‘Good for her! Not for me.’ That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.”

This idea has changed so much for me, including in regards to my yoga practice. When I see someone doing a pose that involves something that isn’t currently available to my body (or may never be), I focus my attention on that. Good for that person! Not for me.

Yoga is a tool for self-acceptance and internal transformation. So it doesn’t matter if you get that via balancing on your nose or lying in quiet relaxation. You get to choose what’s helpful for you.

And you can start anytime, including right now. Taking one deep breath as you read this can be the start, or restart, of your yoga practice. Because just as it doesn’t matter what pose you do, it also doesn’t matter whether or not you practice for five minutes or sixty. What matters is creating a regular and sustainable practice that fits your actual life. Because having a practice that works for you will give you much more of what you’re looking for than wishing for a sixty-minute, five-days-per-week practice and never getting it off the ground because it’s not realistic for your life.

What matters is what’s good for you, not for anyone else.

Image by Andrea Scher

Image by Andrea Scher

Check out Anna’s website to learn more about what she does, for access to a great collection of resources, and to find out about her new book.

Something Good

Lory State Park, image by Eric

Lory State Park, image by Eric

So great to be partnering with Wanderlust to share this list with a larger audience.

1. December Reflections with Susannah Conway. “This project has no real rules – the idea is to simply take a photograph every day(ish) for the whole of December. That’s it. Pause, look around you and shoot what you see. Reflect on how the year’s gone down. Enjoy a bit of mindful creativity in the run up to the new year.” 31 photo prompts, three ways to share your pictures. I’m in!

Print

2. An Ancient Chinese Ginkgo Tree Drops an Ocean of Golden Leaves. This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

3. 29 Playlists To Listen To When Everything Sucks. I haven’t listened to any of these yet because I can’t stop listening to Adele’s new album, but when I do, I will.

4. F*ck That: A Guided Meditation. This has been floating around for a bit, and I finally listened to it. *gigglesnort*

5. How Lowering Your Standards Leads to Greatness from Jen Louden. I’m always open to lowering the bar. In this post, Jen gives us permission.

6. You are Allowed, from Mara Glatzel’s latest newsletter. This is the kind of thing you should print out and hang on the fridge. Click the link she includes to hear her read the list to you, close your eyes and listen to all the things you are allowed. And when you are done, go sign up for her newsletter for more of this sort of goodness.

7. A Little Guide for More Comfort and Joy from Be More With Less. Courtney consistently writes things I have to share. I feel like she’s a version of me, wiser and more compassionate with a simpler more fulfilling life, some years down the road sending me messages from my possible future, reminding me to not give up, to keep trying.

8. Body Gratitude Print Out for the Holidays from Curvy Yoga. What a great practice.

9. How to be generous from Danielle LaPorte. It’s funny to me how the antidote to poverty mentality, a feeling of scarcity, is to give more away, to let things go, to have less, to be more generous.

10. Breathe, an offering from the wonderful Julia Fehrenbaucher, “an eleven week, (self-directed), deep breathing, creative recovery retreat for your spirit.”

11. The Biggest Legal Mistake Freelancers Make from Paul Jarvis.

12. How To Read A Book. I developed a bad habit of reading multiple books at a time while I was in graduate school, but according to this list, that means I’m doing it right.

13. Two Dog Pals Separated At The Shelter End Up In The Same Loving Home. This makes me so happy. And, I have a serious crush on Mr. Riley!

14. I Quit My Boring Office Job To Start Making Mini Paintings On Recycled Wood. I’m glad. She makes some beautiful things.

15. I Doodle Introvert Comics To Express How I Feel. Love these! Her website is great too.

16. Scientists now think that being overweight can protect your health. Oh, snap!

17. #whatayogilookslike: Spotlight on Laura Sharkey.

18. Why this woman’s “badass undie” selfie is starting a viral movement.

19. Adam Kurtz, a great artist interview on Lisa Congdon’s blog.

20. ‘You Can’t Prepare Yourself’: A Conversation With Adele. Because, I’m obsessed.

21. Jimmy Fallon, Adele & The Roots Sing “Hello” (w/Classroom Instruments). Seriously: my brain = all Adele, all the time. Her voice here gives me goosebumps.

22. Sensitive-The Untold Story, a documentary.

23. Move Over Turducken, PIECAKEN Is The Dish To Beat This Thanksgiving. I don’t know how to feel about this…

24. 75 inspiring gratitude prompts from Positively Present. These would be great journal prompts or conversation starters.

25. December Encouragement Notes from Esmé Weijun Wang. This is a free offering. “I’m making this because I think we all need a little extra push and a little extra comfort in December, and because I’m grateful to all of you who make this online space something to be excited about.”

26. What is Literature for?

27. The World Will Be Saved By Waffles, a beautiful post by Erica Staab, which she ends with, “When we can offer a soft place to land for those we love, when we can share with one another our little acts of love, we light up the world. And we could all use a little more light in the world.”

28. Chronic Dieting: The Socially Acceptable Eating Disorder. I lived this, could have written this post, but since I didn’t, I’m so glad Caroline Dooner did.

29. The Real Difference Between Artists and Everyone Else. Spoiler alert: “Making things makes you an artist.”

30. My sister is a heroin addict. This isn’t my exact story, but I’m living a version of this and it sucks.

31. Pet Every Single Dog. This event on Facebook is so perfect. I’m in!

32. Flora Bowley’s Bloom True ecourse. “Enjoy 25% off my five-week, deep dish, transformational, painting course now through December 1st, and savor the freshly designed course at your own pace for one full year. You can also give this as the most rocking gift ever! Use coupon code: btgratitude to receive your discount.”

33. 24 Tweets That Will Make Every Nurse Laugh Out Loud.

34. World’s Largest Spice Company to Go Organic and Non-GMO by 2016. Cool.

35. Wisdom from Jeff Foster, “Heaven is this moment. Hell is the burning desire for this moment to be different. It’s that simple.” It’s also that complicated.

36. The Power in Writing About Yourself.

37. Love List Selfie, a little project and short interview I did with my dear friend Sherry Richert Belul.

38. Dharma of Writing Group a great offering from Susan Piver and Kate Lila Wheeler.

The Dharma of Writing is an ongoing two-hour online monthly gathering designed to help you enter your own writing with the support and companionship of other writers…At each session, we will practice meditation together and then actually write. Each person will work on his or her own project with the quiet, supportive companionship of writers all over the world. We will convene using the video conference platform, Zoom. Sessions will be recorded and links sent to all, so if you can’t join live you can still participate.

39. Wisdom from poet Andrea Gibson, (thanks to Jessica for the original share),

Just to be clear
I don’t want to get out
without a broken heart.
I intend to leave this life
so shattered
there better be a thousand separate heavens
for all of my separate parts.

40. This Man’s Wife Cries About Absolutely Anything So He Started Writing The Reasons Down.

40. Neil Gaiman and Georgina Chapman – Donate to UNHCR – UN Refugee Agency. “Together with UNHCR, international best-selling author, Neil Gaiman, and co-founder and designer of Marchesa, Georgina Chapman, are developing a storytelling project highlighting the Syrian refugee crisis.”

41. Couple Lets Their Dog Film Their Wedding And The Result Is Better Than Most Wedding Videos.

42. How to get out of a rut. Good advice.