Thursday, January 3, 2013

Radical Woman Q&A with Anna Guest-Jelley of Curvy Yoga

When I am at a Yoga class I have noticed that there isn't very much body diversity.  Yet I know surely that the joy and benefit of yoga has no boundaries, certainly not ones that have anything to do with how a body looks.   The truth is the lack of body diversity would be noticeable in most fitness classes.  This makes me sad.  

It's makes me sad to think a woman may never discover the joy of moving her body in a way that speaks to her soul.  It makes me sad to think a woman may never feel the exhilaration of accomplishment and discovery on the physical plane. It makes me sad that 'not looking the part' keeps many women out of gyms, studios or off a yoga mat.

I have this unique ability, to not give a crap about everyone around me, but not everyone is like me.  For many feeling out of place is enough to keep them away. This is why when I found Curvy Yoga, I thought "That's pretty awesome." 

CurvyYoga is "a training & inspiration portal for full-figured yogis & their whole-hearted teachers." Founded by today's Radical Woman, Anna Guest-Jelley.  I pretty much love Anna's description of her self, "As a writer, teacher & lifelong champion for women’s empowerment & body acceptance, Anna encourages women of every size, age & ability to grab life by the curves. And never let go." 

Q. Who are you?

A. Hello! I’m Anna Guest-Jelley, and I’m the Founder of Curvy Yoga, which is body positive yoga for people of all shapes and sizes.

Q. What do you do?

A. I’m a yoga teacher and body empowerment educator. I write and teach about yoga as a vehicle for body awareness, acceptance and love – especially for people who never thought yoga could be for them because of the shape or size of their body.

Q. What makes you radical?

A. I’ve always loved the dictionary definition of radical – to get to the root. My goal with Curvy Yoga is always to get to the root – of what’s holding us back from self- and body-acceptance and what can get us there. For me, this includes looking at personal concerns but also societal structures that dictate what bodies are acceptable – and then, of course, breaking those way down.

Q. Describe your own personal journey with your body image, health and/or fitness.

A. Oh, my. I could fill a whole book on that! In a nutshell, though, I’ve been on 65 diets in my life. In other words, if you can name a diet, health or fitness fad, I’ve probably tried it. Eventually, I realized that the issue wasn’t that I just needed to find the “right” diet and then all my problems would be magically solved. Because, let’s be honest, if 65 hadn’t “worked,” what would the 66th really have to offer? This is when I needed a radically (there’s that word again!) different approach to my life.

Q. What are your philosophies on food & eating?

A. I do my best these days to live by the “feel good” philosophy. In other words, I eat what feels good. I think people fear that this means they’ll end up only eating candy and pizza for the rest of their lives. And while that may feel good for a while, if you really tune into your body, you’ll find that probably isn’t true forever. What feels good to me is what is nourishing for my particular constitution.

Q. What are your philosophies on fitness?

A. The “feel good” philosophy is such a great umbrella because it completely applies to fitness, too. I do what feels good to my body, plain and simple. For me, that’s yoga (guess that was pretty obvious!), swimming and this particular machine at the gym (kind of like cross-country skiing).

Q. What do you have to say about self-love & acceptance?

A. I could fill another book with this one! This is pretty much my favorite topic to talk about! But you know what? I can boil it down to one thing: self-love & acceptance are everything. It’s that simple (and complex): with them, everything goes more smoothly.

 Q. What message do you most want to communicate to other women?

A. I want women to take a long exhale. And then another. And then another. We put so much pressure on ourselves – always thinking we could do something better, smarter, faster. But guess what? We’re doing awesome, my friends. And we’re enough, just as we are.

Q. What else do you have to say/share?

A. Self-acceptance is always a journey. It’s not something you “get” and then are through with, so you can take that pressure off yourself. Let kindness be your guide.


Thank you Anna for sharing yourself with Radical Hateloss & thank you for living your passion in the world, undoubtedly you are changing lives! 

If your interested please check out Curvy Yoga classes & certification courses online at and of course connect with Anna on Facebook and Twitter!


gingerzingi said...

Thank you Stephanie and Anna for this lovely post. I have to admit, I've avoided yoga because it IS an issue for a larger body; so many of the positions are simply impossible for me. Great to know there are some options for me.

Amelia said...

"It's makes me sad to think a woman may never discover the joy of moving her body in a way that speaks to her soul."
I was lucky to find this at a relatively early age (15) in martial arts. I still find other forms of sport and exercise (including yoga) fun, but doing karate speaks to my soul. I think this is incredibly important, and I love the idea of curvy yoga! So many people think that health and fitness is looking the part, acting the part, and reaching massive goals; but it's not, if I could sum it up in just a few words, it's about balanced eating and moving your body. The only goal I have when I exercise is to have fun and enjoy myself, anything else that comes with that is just a bonus.

Dana Ray said...

With my plus size, I just settle for a chiropractic care to help me stabilize the balance between mind and body. However, I'm more than happy knowing that there's actually a yoga class I can finally belong to.

Phoebe Canham said...

I've always wanted to try yoga because I've heard a lot of positive effects of it, but I too didn't pursue it because of my size. I thought it would be too awkward. After reading, I somehow gained a little bit of confidence and I'll start looking for yoga classes.

Sierra Thomas said...

I'm sorry for being ignorant about this, but can yoga help lose weight? I'm trying to find an ideal diet and fitness exercise for me.

Mollie Howells said...

I may have to agree with what Phoebe said; I’ve also heard a lot of positive benefits of yoga to human health. To answer Sierra’s question, yes yoga does help you lose and manage your weight that’s why a lot of people now enroll to yoga classes for health purposes.

Sarah Baine said...

Now this is a great step forward. The need to frame yoga as a physical activity for all body types should really be stressed more. Her method will definitely be a lot of help for a lot of people who have image issues, and it'll definitely trickle into their physical and mental well-being if they could go through this.

Unknown said...

Besides mental discipline, the body also needs to develop the discipline necessary to keep in step with the mind. This involves purposeful physical exercises. Certain stretching exercises and body postures are also known to stimulate and circulate energy in the body - something that diabetics really need.

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