A few weeks back I invited my local coaching clients on a field trip.
We went to the Thursday evening Insight meditation sitting group at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery.
We went because several of them had mentioned during their sessions that they wanted to attend but were nervous to as they’d never been before. They wondered who would be there. They wondered what the protocol would be. They wondered if they would stand out at the “new kid.”
I’ve been there. Haven’t we all? Just wanting someone show us the ropes and energetically hold our hand so we can find our footing. For my clients, it was meditation. For others, it’s a dance class or online dating.
I love anyone who helps others feel safe, welcome, and at ease when trying something new and that’s a big part of why I love Anna Guest-Jelley.
Anna makes yoga accessible for many people who might not otherwise so easily find their way to the mat. As the founder of Curvy Yoga, she leads classes that are “inclusive, accessible & enriching for students of every size, shape, age & ability” and trains teachers across the country to do the same.
In a sea of intimidating limber and lithe yoginis she is just what so many of us need.
If you can’t get to Anna’s classes in Nashville or just want to explore yoga from a place of radical self-kindness you are going to want to snatch up Anna’s new book: Permission to Curve. I really do find myself squealing with delight as I share this. I care so deeply that everyone — absolutely everyone — be invited to feel at home in their bodies, on the mat, the meditation cushion, and the dance floor.
I’ve long wanted to interview Anna for the Well-Fed Woman series, but you don’t have to wait one more second…
What are you TRULY hungry for?
Self-trust. I’ve received this message (usually the hard way) at least a hundred times the past few years. It’s become especially apparent as I’ve navigated my way from a lifetime of body loathing to body loving. As someone who has been on 65 diets in my life, I suppose this is most evident in how much more I am trusting myself to eat what I need, when I need it.
Perhaps more interestingly, though, it also shows up in several other areas of my life, including making career decisions (like deciding to leave my full-time job last year and transition to working with Curvy Yoga only). It has also affected my yoga practice pretty dramatically. I used to practice with the triple AAAs: ambition, angst and even aggression. I just pushed my body so far, too far. Even getting injured (more than once) wasn’t enough to stop me.
But as I began to listen to my inner wisdom and trust it, I realized that nothing positive was driving the AAAs. For me, they came from a feeling that I wasn’t a “true” yoga practitioner because my body didn’t look anything like most of those I saw in class. What self-trust taught me, though, is that the AAAs don’t have a place in my practice. But what does is self-trust: only from that solid ground can I get what I’m really hungry for — the knowledge that I’m okay, just as I am.
What’s a craving you previously denied that you now happily satisfy? How has this impacted you?
The middle way. I’m inclined towards the blacks or whites, eithers/ors. This is true for me in pretty much every part of my life. When I’m in, I’m IN. And when I’m out, well; I’ll forget I was in faster than you can blink your eye.
This passion has served me well in some aspects/times of my life, but mostly it left me anxious and unsettled.
So now I let myself have both/and — delicious food that doesn’t trigger my food allergies, strength and flexibility in my yoga practice, time with my work and time with my husband.
I used to think that only “selfish” people thought they could have both/and. But now that I’m happily partaking, I have to say it feels far from “selfish” (in its typical negative connotation). It feels deliciously whole.
What comes through you with ease, meaning, and spark? What are you conduit for?
I’m a conduit for empowerment. This is the thing I know for sure about myself, as Oprah would say. I’m able to help my yoga students find their internal strength and a practice that works for them. And I’m able to help the yoga teachers I certify to find their true voice — bringing forth their teaching in the way they really want.
Favorite bite in recent memory?
Watermelon. Nothing says summer more to me than that first bite of fresh watermelon.