July 17, 2010

Curvy Yoga. ~ Anna Guest-Jelley

When you’re the curvy girl in your yoga class, things get interesting quickly.

“The most important thing is that your feet are together.”

I looked up with dread, knowing that the yoga teacher was yelling this particular instruction at me.

(Okay, she probably didn’t yell, but she didn’t exactly whisper it, either.)

As a yoga teacher, I know that feet together is a fine, although somewhat vague, instruction. I don’t know about the “most important thing” part.

The thing is that I can’t put my feet together. Well, technically, that’s not true. I can put my feet together. But when I do, my thighs smush and my knees buckle out. So I guess it’s more correct to say that I can’t put my feet together safely.

You see, I’ve never been a skinny girl; the three B’s found me too early in life for that: boobs, belly and butt. When you’re the curvy girl in your yoga class, things get interesting quickly.

Let’s not even talk about partner work; we don’t have the time or energy to go there. Let’s just move along to a go-to pose for many classes: seated forward bend. Now, my hamstrings are relatively open (at least for someone with a desk job), so I begin this pose with anticipation. Seated on the floor, I inhale my arms up with the grace of a ballerina who has been dancing since she was in utero. Exhaling, I reach for my feet and drape my body forward like laying the perfect sheet on a bed—that is, until I encounter two of the B’s: belly and boobs. Try strapping a pillow (or two, depending on how adventurous you feel) around your waist and going into forward bend. Seriously, go do it. You’re not gonna get too far.

What you will get, though, is something kind of amazing. You will still get a forward bend. I know; I know what you’re saying to yourself: “But Anna, how is that possible? You just said that you can’t make it over your belly to save your life!” Thanks for asking (albeit somewhat sarcastically, but I’ll overlook that). I’d be happy to tell you.

It’s possible because I’m getting something even better than the regular ol’ forward
bend. As I gently remind myself that I love yoga and yoga loves me, I’m connecting to the ground with my feet, even if they aren’t together.

I’m getting my forward bend—two B’s and all. And that’s the most important thing.

Anna Guest-Jelley is an advocate for women’s rights by day, a yoga teacher by night, and a puppies’ mama all the time. She is making her way through life with joy, curves and all.

Visit her at her website and on Facebook.

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