Body Trust™ Insights with Anna Guest-Jelley
Our Body Trust Insights series continues with the wonderful Anna Guest-Jelley of Curvy Yoga. A true inspiration and leader in the community of joyful movement and self-love. Here’s a little more about Anna:
Anna Guest-Jelley is founder and CEO (Curvy Executive Officer) at Curvy Yoga, a training and inspiration portal offering classes, workshops, teacher trainings, retreats, a virtual studio and lots of love and support to women of every size, age and ability — in six different countries, on three different continents, as well as in over 30 of the United States.
Anna is a writer, teacher and lifelong champion for women’s empowerment and body acceptance. Author of, “Permission to Curve: Inspiring Poses for Curvy Yogis & Their Teachers,” and co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body (Llewellyn, Fall 2014), Anna has been featured online and in print at The Washington Post, xoJane, US News & World Report, Southern Living, Vogue Italia, Yoga International, Yoga Journal, CrazySexyLife, The Daily Love and more. Visit Curvy Yoga online at CurvyYoga.com.
- What led you to Health at Every Size® and Intuitive Eating?
A couple decades of dieting never “working” for me finally led me to a point where I felt like I had to “give up” and try intuitive eating. This is really how I saw it at first – alternately a failure or else something I could turn into another diet. Over time, though, I began to take the philosophies like medicine. They worked on me slowly, seeping down from my intellect into my body, where they had an alchemical reaction with my truth (that dieting wasn’t the way), and from there things began to shift for me.
- What has been the biggest struggle as you have learned to accept yourself?
Staying with the process is the hardest part for me, no doubt. I’ve had a tendency, especially in the past, to be a very black & white thinker. If HAES didn’t have me fully accepting my body every moment of the day, I wanted to throw it out the window as worthless (which is a charming quality of mine, I know).
- What are three aspects you feel are the most important to remember when moving toward radical self-love?
1. Practice: Thankfully, I already had this paradigm in my life through my yoga practice. But it’s what got me through those black & white moments (and continues to).
2. Make it your own: Self-love can be such a nebulous concept sometimes, and it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap of thinking someone else’s self-love is better than yours, or that yours will not be good enough. Instead of seeing those thoughts as failures, though, experiment with seeing them as red flags – “Uh oh, I’m comparing. That means I need to take a moment and check in with myself to see what I really need right now.”
3. Follow what feels good: Sometimes self-love looks like pedicures and massages, but most of the time for me it looks like noticing my inner critic and shifting the conversation, taking a minute at the beginning and end of my day to get grounded, choosing yoga and meditation over email (especially when I think I “have” to work instead), and/or giving myself space in my schedule to work on something that I’m excited about. I use the question “What would feel really good right now?” throughout my day, and it’s become a guiding light toward more self-love.
- What is your favorite part of your body? How do you celebrate it?
My answer surprises even me: my belly. This used to be my most hated body part – I obsessed about whether or not people were looking at it, and I recoiled if anyone touched it (even if accidentally). But I now look at my belly as the root of my intuition and inner wisdom. So I connect with it daily (if not more often) and send it gratitude. This feels like such a sweet, grounding thing to do.
- What is your favorite food and how do you like to enjoy it?
After much deliberation, I’ve settled on Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. I’m a sucker for the chocolate/PB combo, and having them be dark chocolate is total bliss in my world. I like having one in the car on the way home after picking them up.
- What inspires and renews your dedication to your process when you need it the most?
Taking the long view really inspires me the most. When I’m down on myself, having a bad body image day, resisting going on a diet, etc., I try my best to take a few deep breaths and remind myself of how far I’ve come. Because it’s truly amazing, and I think that’s just as true for people who are new on the path as those of us who have been on it for awhile. Because every choice you make toward self-love, no matter how big or small, is transformative.
- Radical self-love means…
Building the support infrastructure you need to come back to self-love again and again, no matter how many times it seems you’ve lost track.
- What books, music or websites inspire you right now?
Oh, so many!
Rachel Cole (she & I are leading a retreat later this year called Wise Body, Wise Hungers. I am SO honored to work with her!)
Vivienne McMaster (I’ve just finished a course with her on self-love through self-photography. It was wonderful!)
- Favorite quote or poem?
I think I’ve listened to this spoken word poem, Shake the Dust, by Anis Mogjani no fewer than 50 times in the past year. Sometimes I just listen to it on repeat; I love the rhythm, cadence and beauty of his message.