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Yoga For All Shapes & Sizes: Q&A With Anna Guest-Jelley

{The gorgeous Anna Guest-Jelley teaching yoga}

I’m super excited to share my interview with Anna Guest-Jelley, founder of Curvy Yoga, where she inspires people of all sizes to practice yoga and love and care for their bodies. It’s truly a beautiful, invigorating and positive space.

Recently she’s released a stunning and comprehensive e-book called Permission to Curve: Inspiring Poses for Curvy Yogis and Their Teachers. In it, you’ll find an empowering how-to on practicing yoga, including simple instructions and photos of the 60+ poses and sun salutations.

Permission to Curve is about using yoga as a vehicle for self-acceptance, body positivity and self-care. Anna focuses on honoring your body, being kind to yourself, finding the joy in movement and having fun.

Below, Anna shares what inspired her to write Permission to Curve, how yoga helped to heal her self-image issues and what Curvy Yoga means to her.

We’re also giving away two copies of Permission to Curve, so be sure to read the details at the bottom! Stay tuned tomorrow for part two of our interview where Anna talks about listening to our bodies and practicing self-kindness.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

A: My students! These fabulous folks have been asking for this almost since Curvy Yoga got started. From their inspiration, I let the book unfold. I’ve actually been sitting with a pretty solid draft for over a year, but it never felt quite done to me.

Recently, I realized the reason was that while I definitely wanted to share various curvy pose options with people, I really wanted the focus of the book to be on self-kindness and how yoga can be a path towards that. So with that shift, I was able to bring a book into the world that I’m really excited about – one where yoga is a path to self- and body-acceptance and love.

Q: How has yoga healed your body image issues and more than that, your “fractured sense of self,” as you call it in your book? 

A: This is a great question because it’s a challenge (at least for me) to explain this in a way that makes sense. I’d like to say something simple like “It brings together mind, body and spirit.” And that is true. But I know that before I started practicing yoga, and honestly even after years of practice, I never really got what that meant.

So in the interest of clarity, I’ll try to explain my own process. When I first began practicing yoga, I had very little body awareness. (And I do think all of this starts with awareness.)

I’d be on my mat, practicing yoga, but when the teacher told us to feel, for example, what was going on in our back leg in a standing pose, I’d just gloss over that in my mind. I truly thought this was all metaphor; I never imagined that people actually felt things that specifically (which, I later learned, is really not that specific at all – things get way more subtle than that).

Over time, though, I did begin to feel those kinds of things. I think that repetition of hearing the instructions and trying them to the best of my ability really helped. Once I began to realize that awareness went beyond the realm of metaphor, I was able to deliberately try to feel what was going on in my body at a gross physical level.

From there, that slowly developed into more subtle levels of body awareness (like connecting with my breath and noticing how freakin’ shallow it was all the time) and then even into my thoughts and feelings. From that groundwork of awareness, I was able to shift into acceptance – not every moment, of course, but the balance moved more and more to the side of acceptance over time (and it was easier to come to equilibrium when things shifted over to the non-acceptance side).

I think everyone will experience this in slightly different ways depending on their personality and past experiences, but this is really the path of yoga – integrating your fractured self (which most of us have in one way or another) into more wholeness (where, for example, I actually do know what’s going on in my body, mind and heart).

Q: What does Curvy Yoga mean to you?

A: To me, Curvy Yoga is a movement of people reclaiming yoga and themselves. It’s a place for people of all shapes and sizes to support each other in body positivity, and yoga is the tool I use to open that door.

My goal with Curvy Yoga is to invite people of every shape, size, age and ability to experience yoga. Yoga is a transformative practice, and it has been kept from curvy people for far too long.

When I first started Curvy Yoga, my intention was to work specifically with curvy-bodied people. And that is still my primary focus, but what I’ve seen over the past few years has really surprised me – people of every shape and size relate to the desire for a body positive practice. A place where you can move your body in peace, where competition isn’t encouraged, where you’re encouraged to be internal.

And I think especially as teachers are being trained and taking Curvy Yoga into their communities, this kind of class is becoming more and more available.

So what I hope will continue to grow is Curvy Yoga’s ability to affect people positively in their own life and, from there, they are supported by and support others.

And this is for sure already underway; the curvy community has co-created two incredible projects already, the Curvy Yoga gallery of amazing pics and a collection of 36 stories of yoga and body love called Curvy Voices (grab your free copy here!).

The Giveaway!

I’m thrilled to give away TWO copies of Anna’s e-book. (One courtesy of Anna; the other courtesy of me. 🙂 )

To enter to win a copy, just respond to this question below: What’s one way you love to move your body?

You have until next Tuesday 12 a.m. EST to comment. I’ll announce the winner — chosen randomly — next Wednesday.

Yoga For All Shapes & Sizes: Q&A 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). Yoga For All Shapes & Sizes: Q&A With Anna Guest-Jelley. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 23, 2019, from


Last updated: 11 Jul 2012
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