Curvy Yoga by Anna Guest-JelleyWhen you’ve hated your body for years, the very idea that you can love it or appreciate it or even just tolerate it might seem ridiculous. It might feel overwhelming and grossly inaccessible.

You also might be more used to the idea of embracing your body once it actually changes. Once it’s “acceptable.” Once you lose weight. Once you whittle down your too-wide waist. Once you eliminate the fat around your arms. Once your thighs shrink. Once… Once…

But there is a place you can start (no physical changes required). You can start with curiosity.

In her beautiful, practical and powerful new book Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body a Little More Each Day, Anna Guest-Jelley suggests readers get curious about what’s happening inside our bodies and how we feel about our bodies. For instance, she suggests asking ourselves these questions when we practice yoga, which I think are applicable to any movement or physical activity you’re doing:

“What’s happening with my foot (or any body part, perhaps one that is harder for you to notice or one that’s a focal point of the pose)? How am I breathing here? What could I do to make myself even 10 percent more comfortable?…Where can I relax? What story am I telling myself about my body right now?…What does my body need in this moment? How can I meet that need? What does my body want in this moment? How can I meet that want?”

Anna also suggests getting curious about natural transition points throughout our day, such as asking ourselves what we need to start the day or what we want as we go from afternoon to evening.

We can even get curious about criticizing our bodies. According to Anna, you might say: “Oh, I’m being really negative. What’s going on here?” Or “What has happened in my day so far before this critical voice rose up?”

You might not be ready to love or appreciate or even tolerate your body. You might not be there yet. Yet. Which is OK because in the meantime, you can focus on getting curious. You can focus on asking questions. You can focus on listening to what your body has to say. You can focus on responding. Because despising your thighs doesn’t preclude you from practicing body positive yoga. Wanting to lose weight doesn’t preclude you from identifying what you need and appropriately responding. It doesn’t preclude you from making yourself comfortable by wearing soft, well-fitting clothes, getting enough sleep and learning to cope effectively with anxiety (something that often makes us feel terribly awkward in our own skin; you’ll find anxiety-reducing tips in this piece, this one and this one).

In other words, we don’t need to wait until we arrive at body acceptance—something that doesn’t have a destination anyway—to take compassionate action. (After all, there is no end point; there is only a process, a journey.) So consider starting. Consider starting this minute. Start with a question or three: What is happening inside my body? What does my body need? How can I meet this need now?

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I highly recommend getting Anna’s new book Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body a Little More Each Day, which comes out today. In it Anna shares her own experiences and struggles with accepting her body (and herself). She also shares powerful—and totally doable—practices for treating our bodies with kindness and compassion. It’s an insightful, deeply personal and encouraging book, and I can’t say enough great things about it. You can learn more about the book and Anna’s work at CurvyYoga.com. Also, stay tuned for an interview with Anna all about body acceptance.