Tag Archives: Anna Guest-Jelley

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

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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

Image from Unsplash

Image from Unsplash

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

1. Savor: Daily Practices for a More Nourishing Holiday from Rachel Cole. Savor is six weeks of guided audio meditations and journal prompts to support you in being well-fed and centered this holiday season. As Rachel describes it, “Savor is about finding yourself in the small moments. It’s about tasting what’s already here. It’s about noticing the good and saying ‘thank you’ often. Savor is designed to help you find sanctuary amidst the hustle and bustle that’s headed our way. Savor is, no surprise, about savoring your life.” At only $35, this would make a great holiday gift, for yourself or anyone else on your list. Disclaimer: I first started working with Rachel almost four years ago. Since then she’s been a guide, a teacher, a precious friend. Everything she does is magic, and this is going to be no exception.

2. Random Acts of Kindness Generator. This is such a great idea. Doing something nice, either directly or in secret, is such a mood lifter for everyone involved. I can imagine a homemade version too, a jar with slips of paper filled with different ideas. Just pick one and do it.

3. Problems of output are problems of input from Austin Kleon.

4. An important question posed by Brave Girls Club, “What is calling to you? What is the deepest, most true message that is calling to you?”

5. A Note from the Universe,

It’s easy to look around at all the people who already have what you want, notice how they differ from you, and then think that they are the “kind of people” for whom having what you want comes naturally. Whereas you are not, otherwise you’d have it too.

Very rational thinking, and a super way for non-adventurers to avoid responsibility, rest on the sidelines, and watch more TV.

Adventurers, on the other hand, Jill, understand that they are exactly the kind of people who should have the things they now want. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be blessed with wanting them.

6. This is about the time I chose not to die.

7. If you accept your body, does that mean you give up?, a recent and brilliant newsletter from Curvy Yoga and Anna Guest-Jelley.

8. Parenthood Is An Act Of Hostage Negotiation With A Broken Robot from Terrible Minds.

9. This Guy’s Reaction To Patti LaBelle’s Pie Is Priceless. This guy understands pie like I do.

10. Wisdom from Hans Hofmann, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Oh, snap.

11. It’s going to be okay, a really great, important and timely comic from The Oatmeal. “So get up, and help someone.” Also this video, “Runner. Cartoonist. Cake Lover. – A Seeker Story,” the story of Matthew Inman, creator of TheOatmeal.com.

12. Raising Imogen, “koala joey’s most adorable home video of all time.” Who knew baby koala’s were so stupid cute?

13. This Kid Should Work For Hallmark Because His Thank You Letters Are Spot On.

14. Buddhism, Bravery, Love and the Good Life, Lodro Rinzler on Good Life Project Radio. Lodro is one of my favorite teachers, and I always love Johnathan’s interviews. Jonathan posted on Facebook, about this interview, “What if meditation didn’t solve anything, it just let you see things better?”

15. Wisdom from Judith Lief, “To meditate, all you need are 3 things: a restless body, a wandering mind, and out-of-control emotions.”

16. Awkwarding is what brings us all together from The Bloggess. These tweets are so awesome.

17. On What People Think from Dani Shapiro.

18. This 17-Year-Old Cat Is The Laziest Internet Star In Japan on Bored Panda.

19. Deciding How and When to Quit, a brilliant post from Jen Louden about the difference between default quitting and compassionate quitting, which includes a really great set of prompts to help one contemplate how to decide what to do. “But in the end, it comes down to this: You must be willing to look yourself in the mirror and ask, ‘Am I suffering enough to do something about it?’ or ‘Am I hungry enough for something more to take this risk?'”

20. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

We make a lot of mistakes. If you ask people whom you consider to be wise and courageous about their lives, you may find that they have hurt a lot of people and made a lot of mistakes, but that they used those occasions as opportunities to humble themselves and open their hearts. We don’t get wise by staying in a room with all the doors and windows closed.

20. Wisdom from Seth Godin, Certain failure and Your progress report.

21. How to make your website credible from Paul Jarvis.

22. #naphopomo day 10: do not let the adorable nose fool you on Chookooloonks. Oh Karen, I feel your pain/joy.

23. Five Days of Mandala Magic, from Julie Gibbons, “a free online workshop that demonstrates how, with a little know-how + some tools + techniques, you can create beautiful mandalas anytime you feel called – even if you’re not an accomplished artist!”

24. Is Fat Stigma Making Us Miserable? Spoiler alert: YES.

25. 16 Stunning Works Of Origami Art To Celebrate World Origami Day on Bored Panda.

26. Riverside 433 sq. ft. guest cottage is a roomy floating retreat. So dreamy.

27. 30 Simple Ways to Take Care of Yourself Over the Holidays from Be More With Less, a great list for any time of year, not just the holidays.

28. A Healthy Way to Aspire to a Better Life on Zen Habits. The title says it all.

29. money talks with Laurie Wagner. I love this column. I love Sherry, the lovely host. And you know I love Laurie.

30. Wisdom from Jonathan Fields, “Never allow the false urgency of others to dictate where and when you place your attention.”

31. In April 2013, Diana Kim spotted her father for the first time in decades. “He was living on the street, disheveled and unkempt, and didn’t have a clue who she was.”

32. The fallacy of ‘go big or go home’: redefining ambition from Esmé Wang.

33. Organizers seat woman behind Trump ‘because she’s black’ — so she silently protests by reading her book.

34. I Quit My Job To Be A Travel Writer, And Now I’m Broke And Unemployed. I think it’s so important to have these narratives to balance out the “do what you love and the money will come” ones.

35. Calvin Harris & Disciples – How Deep is Your Love (Cover) by Daniela Andrade x KRNFX. The only thing better than a good song is a good cover of that song, and Daniela just might be the queen of covers.

36. The Roar Sessions: Lindsey Mead.

37. 9 Ways Generous People View the World Differently from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

38. A Thanksgiving Reader, a new tradition, offered by Seth Godin.

39. Cultivating Wonder, “4 weeks full of lessons, prompts, interviews + secret missions to grow your sense of wonder” from Andrea Scher, pay what you can. It starts today, but you can still sign up. Again, a disclaimer: Andrea is the reason this blog exists, and I adore everything she does — guide, teacher, and precious friend.

40. Social Media isn’t the point. Storytelling is. “8 things you can (and should) do to become an effective storyteller for your brand” from Christina Rosalie.