Building A Positive Body Image & Yoga Practice: Part 2 With Anna Guest-Jelley
Anna believes in being healthy at every size. (Me too!) She’s dedicated to promoting the messages of joyous movement and self-acceptance at every shape.
Instead of focusing on shame and self-loathing – which we see promoted all-too often by the media and even some health professionals – Anna helps people challenge such negative ideas and feel safe and truly happy moving their bodies.
To me, this is a great gift to give to others.
She also writes a fantastic blog on her website. It’s wise, well-written and most importantly honest and genuine – which are just some of the qualities, among many, that I admire about Anna.
Below, Anna talks about what a positive body image means to her, what helps her stay positive, how to practice yoga at home and so much more!
Q: What does having a healthy body image mean to you?
A: Sometimes I get tripped up by the word “healthy” because I know it can be so loaded. But really what it means for me is that I keep things in perspective. It means:
- Acknowledging that I’m fat and saying it out loud. It’s a fact, not a judgment.
- Knowing what’s a dieting trigger for me.
- Doing my best to not fill my life with negative stress.
- Holding space for “tight pant” days where I feel miserable simultaneously with the much broader understanding that I’m enough. This may sound like a corny greeting card, but the fact that I’m here and breathing and doing my work and loving the people in my life is really just almost too beautiful to bear, and how snug my pants feel on any given day is a distraction from being present for that.
Q: What are your tips for building a positive body image?
A: Hands-down, my biggest help has been two things: my support team and time. For the first, I’m fortunate to have very supportive people in my life, especially my husband, sister and best friend.
I also assembled a fantastic team of fat-accepting, HAES-supporting health practitioners, so I never have to worry about being shamed at the doctor and can get the help I need without judgment.
The second, time, is something I’ve had to carve out. I used to fill all my time with extra jobs, committees, causes, etc.
And while I still have passion for many different things, I’m now ruthlessly choosy about how I spend my time. This gives me the space I need to practice yoga, read books I love, and do whatever else I want/need to stay grounded and feel fabulous.
Q: What are some ways readers can practice yoga at home?
A: Oh my goodness, there are so many fantastic opportunities to practice yoga at home! When I first started practicing yoga in my dorm room in college, there weren’t too many options available.
Today, though, there are hundreds of DVDs (and plenty of libraries carry some that you can try out before purchasing) in addition to books and online classes. I have a great list of home yoga resources specifically for curvy yogis over at my website.
Home practice is excellent for so many reasons. Here are my favorite three:
- It can prepare people who are unsure about going to a class by helping them learn more about the basics.
- You can do it whenever you have time, so if a class at your local studio doesn’t fit your schedule (or budget), you can still practice.
- It helps you cultivate your inner teacher and learn what works best for your unique body.
Q: Aside from practicing yoga, what other ways do you practice self-care?
A: The time thing I mentioned is huge. But I also meditate, take baths, have meandering phone calls with my sister, journal, read fiction that sucks me in, get acupuncture regularly, watch funny television shows, and laugh at my silly puppies.
Q: What are your favorite body positive resources?
A: Great question! I’m a total book-hound, so it’s hard to narrow it down, but here are my top picks:
- For curvy yoga practice: MegaYoga by Megan Garcia and Big Yoga by Meera Patricia Kerr.
- For days when I can’t remember why I’m not on a diet: Health at Every Size by Dr. Linda Bacon and anything by Geneen Roth.
Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know?
A: I love to read the work of Donna Farhi, a great yoga teacher. One of the things Donna says is that “the best [yoga] practice can only be defined as the one that works.”
I think the same is true of all our practices, including developing a positive body image. The process of figuring out what works for us as individuals, whether in a pose on the yoga mat or in the midst of a dieting meltdown, is one of the most important things we can do.
I’m so grateful to Anna for speaking with me and for sharing her wise words with us!
What resonated with you in Anna’s interview? Do you practice yoga? What are your favorite body positive resources? How do you practice self-care?
P.S., Yesterday, Joy kicked off this month’s Self-Discovery, Word by Word series. February’s word is “pleasure!” In the post, Joy also lists some great questions to help us explore this word. The deadline is Feb. 21st, so if you want to participate, there’s plenty of time! Read Joy’s post here.
Tartakovsky, M. (2011). Building A Positive Body Image & Yoga Practice: Part 2 With Anna Guest-Jelley. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 22, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2011/02/building-a-positive-body-image-yoga-practice-part-2-with-anna-guest-jelley/