Collective Care is a written interview series with people who are changing the world. Most often, these folks are working at the intersection of creative, healing, and/or activist work.
I’m in love with the idea of amplifying the work (and self-care practices) of people who are building a more compassionate world. In this series, I get to chat with people who inspire me like whoa.
Today we get to meet Anna Guest-Jelley!
Anna is one of those people I feel like I’ve been following online forever, mostly because everything she puts out into the world is so damn good. While I don’t look like the typical Curvy Yoga devotee, I do know what it’s like to be told that yoga isn’t for me due to disability. Curvy Yoga, meanwhile, is changing lives all over the globe and bringing forth a much-needed revolution within the yoga world and declaring that yoga is for everyone. I am in awe of what Anna has built.
Anna, take it away!
How are you changing the world?
(What is your change-making, healing, and/or creative work? This might be paid, unpaid or a combination.)
I teach what I call Curvy Yoga, which is body-affirming yoga for people of all shapes and sizes. I don’t teach it because yoga, or even body acceptance, are end goals in and of themselves, but because I believe strongly in the power of feeling at home in your body as a way to feel at home in the world.
What challenges your heart in that journey?
There are SO many messages that tell us it’s not okay to inhabit our own bodies. Sometimes I get discouraged and feel like the odds are insurmountable. But then I just open my eyes and look around me at all the people who are claiming a different way and living the results of that with such glorious expression that it brings me back to center.
What inspires you to keep going?
I see what a difference it makes when people can channel the time, energy, money and other resources they used to pour into trying to have a different body into living their life and showing up in the world how they want to. Knowing that people are getting to enjoy their lives and relationships more and contribute to the world how they want to is endlessly inspiring to me. I think we need as many embodied people as we can get in this world!
How do you support yourself or tend to yourself and your heart in that process?
What nourishes and replenishes you?
As the years have gone by with Curvy Yoga, I’ve gotten better at figuring that out. Now I know that white space is important to me on my calendar, I need time on a regular basis to move my body (or else I get too much pent-up energy and get anxious), I have to limit how much time I spend online (it turns out checking email or social 30 times an hour isn’t that great, haha!), and I need regular time outdoors. All of those things, plus connecting with my family and friends in a present way, journaling, and other self-care tools all support me.
How do you experience care within community?
How do others support you in your journey and practice?
I have a few close “business friends.” It feels silly to categorize them that way because they’re really more like soul sisters, but they also have their own businesses, and I know I can text/call/email any one of them if I’m feeling stuck or discouraged and they’ll be willing to lend an ear, and vice versa. I truly couldn’t do this without them!
What’s your best piece of advice you have for people who want to make a difference?
Consider what your particular piece of the puzzle is. For a long time I think I thought that, at least on some level, I needed to have all the pieces and contribute to solving as many problems as possible. But, of course, that isn’t possible, nor is it even particularly helpful. Now I do my best to concentrate on the particular piece I can bring, and then how I can lend a hand to other people’s. This helps me do my piece more effectively, leaves me the energy to keep doing it and not burn out, and lets other people shine with their piece.
Paint us a picture of the more compassionate world and future you imagine.
I think a world where more of us are connected with our bodies, such a source of wisdom, would be beautiful. Of course, we’re disconnected for many reasons, including societal messages that our bodies are not okay to connect with, trauma, oppression, and more. So a world where more of us could connect would mean a world where there was more space, safety and encouragement to do so, which I think would be an incredible thing.
Anna Guest-Jelley is the founder of Curvy Yoga, an online yoga studio and teacher training center that helps people of all sizes find true acceptance and freedom, both on and off the mat. Anna is the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body.
How to connect:
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