The Curvy Seven

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Today’s post is The Curvy Seven on Curvy Yoga. I’m honored to be included in this amazing group of Curvy Yogis.

Click over to find out more about my yoga history, my favorite and least favorite poses and who is my Curvy Icon.

I also revealed my favorite quotes.

What is your favorite quotes or words to live by?

Yoga Teachers Who Inspire

yoga teacher interviews

Over the years I’ve interviewed some of my favorite yoga teachers.

Here are the highlights:

You’ve said yoga will “ruin” your life as you know it… What did you mean by that? And how has it ruined yours?

It’s completely ruined mine! I think you’re never off the hook. Once you know about the philosophy and “the path,” you know when you’re off it.  

Recently I went to a party and some friends were talking about another person who was not there. The talk was not kind (*not* ahimsa) and probably not entirely true (*not* satya).  

I didn’t get up and leave the conversation and it’s really heavy on me this morning. My body told me to get up—I felt a little nauseas (another way you’re *ruined*—you’re more aware of your physical and emotional feelings). I even had dreams about it last night.  

But I didn’t say anything or excuse myself, and I can’t change it, and there’s no sense in berating myself (back to ahimsa). So I take this experience and set the intention to do it differently next time.

For more with Michelle Marlahan proprietress of It’s All Yoga (Sacramento) – my primary teacher – excerpt from Part 2.

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Madeleine Lohman describing her first yoga class.

It was a beginner’s class, but an accelerated one intended for folks who were already “in shape.” I don’t know what led me to believe that described me. I’ll never forget the teacher kneeling beside me trying to encourage me to roll back into plough pose. All my efforts produced almost no movement, only grunting.

I do remember that I did my first handstand in that class. I actually cried out: “Jeezus!!!”

The teacher didn’t find it funny.

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Speaking of laughing and yoga….here’s how Anna Guest-Jelley describes her yoga classes.

I like to describe my classes as a choose-your-own-adventure book.  Remember those? I give lots of different options during class.  I always talk with my students before class to check in and see what’s going on with them so I have an idea of what modifications to offer.  The classes themselves are usually quiet with some bursts of laughter.

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Who or what inspires you? Who are your favorite yoga teachers?

Interested in learning more about our Featured Teachers? Here’s the full archive.

Are you interested in being a Teacher Goes Back to School Featured Teacher? Contact me at TGBTS blog AT g mail dot com – subject line: Featured Teacher

Image: sudheer and son mayan riviera by lululemon athletica on Flickr (cc)

Blogs I Love: Curvy Yoga

Blog I Love: Curvy Yoga

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Who they are:

Anna Guest-Jelley is the mastermind behind Curvy Yoga – a training and inspiration portal for curvy yogis and their allies and teachers.

I was fortunate enough to meet Anna pretty quickly after my yoga teacher training and had the opportunity to interview her for our Featured Teacher Series. You can check out those interviews here and here.

Basically, she is a rock star.

Recently she guest posted here at TGBTS about How Restorative Yoga Healed My Body Image – which includes a free restorative section from her book Permission to Curve.

Anna organized the Curvy Yoga community to send photos to the Yoga Journal Model Contest and published all the photos on her site. If you look you may even find some familiar faces.

Some local Sacramento Curvy Yogis from It’s All Yoga and I talked with Anna about our Curvy Yogi photo shoot, radical insight and the subversiveness of acceptance and the interviews are here and here.

In other words, Anna has been a TGBTS ally since the start and she is not only a warm, generous person, but also an inspiration. I am so happy to have Anna in my corner.

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Why I love Curvy Yoga and what I learn from it:

Anna writes thoughtful, thought-provoking posts and provides information I haven’t found anywhere else.  She inspires me to bring yoga to people who may believe they can not do it for whatever reason.

Posts I find inspiring:

Why Touching Your Toes Doesn’t Matter

Restorative Yoga (a simple practice for home)

25 Ways to Add Yoga to Your Life

13 Ways of Looking At A Yoga Pose

Weighty Words

Dear Yoga Journal

Curvy Yogis, Represent!

Yogi Imperfect

Are You Advanced In Your Practice?

Finding Your Teacher

Yoga From the Wounded Place

If you haven’t already, go check out Curvy Yoga and then tell me what you think.

What blogs do you love?

How Restorative Yoga Healed My Body Image – A Guest Post from Anna Guest-Jelly of Curvy Yoga

How Restorative Yoga Healed My Body Image

Let’s party like it’s 1999.

Or, let’s at least go back there in our minds. Picture this: I’m a curvy gal in my first year of college. I’m away from home. I have terrible migraines (this is nothing new). I hear that yoga can be good for pain, so I somehow get my hands on a Rodney Yee VHS tape and start practicing.

Only when my roommate is in class. Always with the door locked.

As I practice, I like it. I love it, in fact (which is weird because I have never liked any form of anything that looks remotely like exercise). So I want more of it — but I want more of what I see on the videos.

More tone on my body, more gymnast-like flexibility, more speed — more, more, more.

More to Less

As the years went by, I did get more of that — mostly the speed and flexibility. But then things shifted in my body: my curves got curvier, and I couldn’t go as far into poses as I used to.

To say this was a hit to my already fragile body image was an understatement.

I think I took about a year off practice at this point. I was so discouraged that I couldn’t do the poses I used to that I thought I shouldn’t bother. I thought I had finally reached that point where I was just “too big” for yoga, so it was time to move on.

Except, of course, I couldn’t. I still found myself surreptitiously doing poses — but “just to stretch,” of course. Not yoga.

Gimme Gimme

During my more, more, more days, no one could have convinced me to do a restorative yoga pose. One of my teachers would teach Savasana and then leave the room; students could leave whenever they wanted. The intention was to give people the space to take their time.

I took it as the opposite, though. I usually reached for my car keys while we were getting into position. Then I would politely wait as long as I could and bolt for the door. I’d say on my more restrained days that this took approximately 42 seconds.

I just didn’t see the point.

But then one day after my self-induced yoga break, after feeling particularly stressed from work and school, I decided to indulge myself in a full restorative workshop. What possessed me to do this, I’ll never know. (I think I thought of it more like a massage than yoga, so that made it okay with me.)

All I know is that after the careful precision of set-up, the internal (and sometimes external) groan of delight after settling in and then fully letting go into the poses, something shifted.

I felt relaxed, grounded and centered. And, yeah, I wanted more again — but this time it was totally different.

Me Time

You see, restorative yoga is all about y-o-u (or, in this case, m-e). Everyone’s set-up is slightly different.  This is really the goal of all yoga, but restorative invites you into it differently. The goal is to make yourself as fully comfortable and supported as possible. This was new to me as I’d been “raised” in a yoga environment where competition wasn’t explicitly encouraged, but it also wasn’t exactly discouraged.

This restorative yoga was about meeting yourself exactly where you are — and loving every minute of it.

When I realized that, I felt a marked turn in my relationship toward my body. For the first time, rest, ease and letting go entered the equation. For the first time, self-care became my priority, not what I tried to avoid.

After that, you couldn’t get me out of a restorative pose if you wanted to (but who would want that anyway?).

Thank goodness.

Want the low-down on Anna’s restoratives? Click here to download the Restoratives chapter from her book, “Permission to Curve,” for free!

Awesome Yoga Happenings In Sacramento and Elsewhere

Labor Day weekend. You are all invited. There is a good chance I’ll be teaching and I am totally going to class too. Join me?

Be sure to “like” Sacramento Free Day of Yoga on Facebook to get all the details.

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I wish I had a dime for every time someone asked about a book club. And don’t get me started on the scheduling!

Meredith from the Pondering Yogini has the answer: Online Yoga Book Club!

Join me?

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I know this isn’t happening until October, but I’ve already signed up. Anna is such an inspiration to me and I am thrilled to have a chance to practice with her.

Please join me and sign up today.

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Tell me about the awesome yoga happenings/events in your life.

In Case You Missed It Edition! Volume 39

{photo credit: Etsy – click image for source – PS I would not be sad to have this in my classroom if anyone is feeling gifty}

I’ve found some links to posts that made me laugh, cry, think or at least raise an eyebrow. Please click the links and check out the posts. You may find something that rocks your world too.

Leave me some feedback in the form of comments below on what you liked, what you hated and what you’d like to see more of. I’m here to help you find the best of what is online.

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My Best Of…

Can You Coccoon? The Challenge and Power of Taking a Rest from Amy Kessel. Gaining strength and inspiration from taking time away from the busyness of life to recharge your batteries.

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Want to change a habit and aren’t sure where to start? Leo Babauta gives four steps here in Where In The World Do I Start?  

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For some, summer break is starting to wind down and teachers are starting to think about the return to work. While I am not joining them this year because of my extended parental leave, I’ve still got teaching on the brain this time of year.

Lisa Dabbs from Teaching With Soul and the founder of the New Teacher Chat on Twitter has published an amazing list of teacher resources titled: Mentoring Monday An Article A Day…Might Just Save Your Teaching Life.

I can’t wait to dig into this list. Please check it out and leave me a comment on your favorite.

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Are you or someone you know going through a break up? Not sure what to do or say? Divorce Field Guide: Best Advice from Mighty Girl has some gems. My favorite is number 3. So, so, so true.

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Curvy Yoga’s Guide To Creating A Home Studio – a step-by-step guide for setting up a space and practice at home. A short, ridiculously helpful guide for getting on the mat at home.

Did you all know Anna is coming to Sacramento and specifically It’s All Yoga? I’m so excited!

CurveFest 2012 – October 13th – 1-6:30 pm

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That is the In Case You Missed It Edition, folks.

Remember to click the links and leave some comments. This is a conversation, you know.

In Case You Missed Edition Archives -click it to see them all.

Grabbing Life By the Curves: An Interview with Curvy Yoga’s Anna Guest-Jelley, Part 2

Teachers.

Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my new series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!

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Have you met Anna yet? She’s March’s Featured Teacher and yogi revolutionary.

In case you missed it, here’s PART 1.

Do you have a home practice? What is it like? How often? Where? How’d you start and how do you keep at it?

Since my yoga practice started off as a home practice, I’ve always valued practicing at home.  It, like everything else, is a work in progress and ebbs and flows!  I’d say I probably practice at home at least a couple times per week.  I keep my mat rolled out as inspiration.  When I practice at home, I do a lot of different things; sometimes I use a DVD or online sequence, but probably even more often I just start and see what happens.  That’s what I love most about practicing at home; it’s really where I learned to figure out what my body wants.

What’s your favorite pose? Why?

Tough question!  My favorite yoga treat is Supta Baddha Konasana–all propped up, of course.  I just feel so spoiled when I’m in that pose!  I also love some good hip openers, like Pigeon.

What’s your least favorite pose?

Eek–that’s also hard to choose!  Gomukhasana is one of my nemesis poses because my shoulders are perpetually tight.  They’re actually better than they used to be, but that’s not saying too much.

Why is your business called Curvy Yoga? What does it mean?

I chose the name Curvy Yoga because I wanted to honor both the curves of our bodies and our lives.  To me, life is a curvy road, so I used that in the name of my business to reflect the fact that it’s about more than just yoga modifications for curvy folks.  It’s also about fat acceptance, body positivity and meeting yourself where you are.

Language is very important to me; I chose the word curvy because I hoped it would be welcoming.  I’ve been very intentional about using the words curvy and fat in my writing and speaking as a way of claiming space for bigger bodies in a positive way in the yoga community.  While I know that both the words curvy and fat have their detractors, this is what makes the most sense to me as a way of supporting and advocating for the goals of Curvy Yoga in a broader way.  I believe that by reclaiming fat as an adjective and not a moral judgment, we can continue working for celebration of the diversity of bodies practicing yoga.

Do you have a meditation practice?

Yes; I’m working on making my meditation practice more consistent, but in the spirit of it being a practice, I’ll go ahead and say yes.  I found meditation the same time I found yoga, and I’ve been working with it ever since.  I’d say that my yoga practice has been a more constant companion in my life, but I very much want to continue with meditation.

What prompted you to write your now famous letter to Yoga Journal?

I love reading Yoga Journal. I’ve always been a reader, and I just totally geek out when it comes in the mail.  I set aside a special time and cuddle up with it.

When I opened that particular issue of the magazine and came to that article, I about fell out when it opened with a reference to Linda Bacon (a fat acceptance and anti-dieting heroine) and Health at Every Size.  I can’t even tell you how excited I was!  I was just like “yes–finally!  I’ve so been waiting for this!!”  So then when I read the article and it was promoting what I read as a conflicting message, I was really disappointed.

I just sat with it for awhile because I didn’t know what to do with it, but I just kept thinking about it.  I kept feeling like I should write about it, but I thought of a million reasons why it wasn’t a good idea.  Finally, though, I just knew I had to do it because it was a great example of what I talk about quite a bit on my blog–how insidious weight loss messages are and how easy they are to overlook, especially when they’re couched as “health” or hiding in magazines that we don’t always think of when we think of magazines contributing to negative body image.  I think if we don’t call out things like this, it becomes harder and harder to create welcoming space for people to try yoga who wouldn’t normally think it’s for them.

What is your blog about? When did you start? Why did you start? What is your purpose?

I started my blog a year ago because I kept looking for what I wanted to read and not finding it.  Over time and as interest grew, it’s evolved into what it is now.  My intention for the blog is for it to be a place where people can explore yoga and their relationships to their bodies and selves in an open way.  As you pointed out in one of your posts (which I loved!), yoga isn’t all f*cking sunshine and rainbows.  I find that the same is very much true of the journey to accepting and loving the body you have today.

What other blogs do your read? Why?

Oh, my.  I recently discovered Google Reader, which has been both a blessing and a curse.  I have about 150 blogs in my reader and do my best to keep up with them (thankfully they don’t all post all the time, so it’s usually not too overwhelming).  Because I have so many fabulous blogging friends, I won’t list names so I won’t leave anyone out (except for Teacher Goes Back to School, obviously! Ed: awww, shucks!).  I will say that the majority of what I read is a mix of yoga, fat acceptance and body image blogs.

Who and what inspires you?

Wow–so much!  I feel like I’ve missed quite a bit in my life by always being really focused on doing and achieving more and more and more.  As I’m gradually letting that go and narrowing in on what’s most important to me, I’m inspired by lots of things–big and small.  I’m endlessly inspired by my yoga students; they’re such incredibly warm, thoughtful and talented badasses.  I often can’t believe my luck that they choose to be in my classes!  I’m also hugely inspired by the yoga community I’ve found online.  I’ve made some dear friends and wonderful connections there; these people are doing so much toward a more inclusive yoga community, and I so appreciate their passion and dedication.

I’m also really fortunate to be surrounded by my brilliant, loving, and hilarious husband, sister, best friend and parents.

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If you’d like to learn more about Anna check out her blog.

You can also “like” Anna’s blog on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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Please leave any questions or comment love below – we’d love to hear from you.

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INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

February 2011: Jed Brewer, Public School Teacher/Music Executive

December 2010: Madeleine Lohman, Yoga Teacher/Massage Therapist

November 2010: Alicia Herrera – 4th grade teacher/Textile Artist – Spirit House Designs.

October 2010: Ryan Fong – Teaching Assistant/PhD Candidate in English at UC Davis.

September 2010: Michelle Marlahan– Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.