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How To Be Kinder To Your Body & Yourself: Part 2 With Anna Guest-Jelley

{Anna Guest-Jelley helping a student in class}

For many of us, self-kindness is hard to come by. Somehow it’s so much easier to be nicer to everyone else and so much harder to be nicer to ourselves.

That’s one of the reasons I love Anna Guest Jelley’s work on Curvy Yoga and her new e-book Permission to Curve: Inspiring Poses for Curvy Yogis and Their Teachers: She helps us reconnect with our self-compassion. She empowers us to listen to our bodies and treat ourselves with respect and care.

Below, in part two of our interview, Anna explains what self-kindness means to her and how we can be more compassionate toward ourselves. She also shares why yoga is important along with her favorite yoga pose.

And don’t forget that we’re giving away TWO copies of Anna’s book Permission to Curve. All you have to do is comment on part one of our interview. (The details are there, too.)

Q: Why do you think yoga is so important to practice?

A: I grew up without a movement practice that I enjoyed, and I have a personal history of chronic dieting and disordered eating. So, I suppose inevitably, I made exercise into a punishment. Because I viewed exercise as something I had to do, I of course resisted it most of the time and hated it the rest of the time.

Once I discovered yoga, though, I realized that movement could be something that replenished my reserves, not depleted them. Something that could create more calm in my life, not more stress. Something that could make me feel really good, not tear down my self-esteem.

And this is why I think yoga is important – because of the process I described earlier of moving you toward wholeness. Although too few yoga classes today make it so, yoga truly is accessible to everyone. You just have to find the teachers and resources that make it available for you.

If you can only touch your toes in a dream, you can bring the floor up to you with blocks. If you aren’t able to stand for long periods of time, you can use a chair. Even if you’re sick in bed, there are things you can do from your bed.

Q: What’s your favorite yoga pose, and why? 

A: I really love restorative yoga poses, even the seemingly simple Savasana, or relaxation at the end of class. I think the reason I’m so drawn to these poses today is that I rejected them for a long time. I thought they were a “waste of time” because they weren’t burning calories.

But here’s what I’ve learned: More than anything else, active rest and restoring has been the key to an increased sense of wellbeing, better relationships and more creativity.

I know that’s a tall bill, but I completely believe it’s true for me – when I take the time to take care of me and let my body integrate everything that’s been going on in my life, I have more energy and enthusiasm for whatever is coming next.

Q: What I love most about your book is the emphasis on listening to our bodies and being kind to ourselves. I still struggle with this, especially the kindness part. What does listening and self-kindness mean to you?

A: Oh gosh; me, too! It really can be so hard. I’ve been practicing yoga for over 13 years, and I still feel like I miss this more often than not. But that’s the beauty of committing to a practice – that’s okay. It becomes available to me a little more every day, week, month, year.

I don’t think many of us are raised to treat ourselves kindly on a deep level. Self-kindness for me looks quite a bit like gentleness. By that I mean that it’s constantly checking in and seeing how I’m feeling and what’s working for me. This used to show up for me as an after-effect – I’d be wallowing in some kind of misery and try to slowly drag myself out.

And that was a really good and necessary step. But now I’m more able (although not always!) to notice the feelings that put me into that pit of misery. So when I’m experiencing resistance to something, or frustration, or just feeling a little “off,” I pause and ask myself what’s going on. I often find that I’m trying to do work that isn’t a good fit for me, or that I need to rest, or that I need some other form of self-care.

I know this might sound a little tedious or time-consuming, but it’s a practice in and of itself. Similar to yoga, the longer you do it, the more seamless it becomes – and the more you learn.

Q: Can you offer a few suggestions on how we can become more self-compassionate as well as better listeners?

A: I recommend starting with getting quiet. It’s amazing how hard this is. I literally have to leave my iPhone in the other room when I practice yoga; otherwise, I somehow magically find myself checking email while I’m in Down Dog.

So if you notice that you’re feeling bad, or you’re down on yourself for not being able to do x, y or z perfectly, see if you can give yourself a moment to check in. My favorite question to ask myself is: “What is really going on here?” An answer always comes – even though I often don’t like it.

For example, I might ask myself what’s really going on and get an answer that something I’m working on isn’t right and I should start over. Or that my friendship with someone isn’t what I thought it was and I should recalibrate.

I fought these answers for so long that I had to start giving myself permission to trust them, no matter how ridiculous they were. Once I realized I’d perceive the answers as ridiculous at first, I was able to cut myself some slack and respond accordingly.

Stay tuned tomorrow for part three, where Anna reveals how we can love our bodies even on the days we don’t like them very much.

How To Be Kinder To Your Body & Yourself: Part 2 With Anna Guest-Jelley

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2012). How To Be Kinder To Your Body & Yourself: Part 2 With Anna Guest-Jelley. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 22, 2019, from


Last updated: 11 Jul 2012
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