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Curvy Yoga founder Anna Guest-Jelley will teach a class in D.C.

Anna Guest-Jelley, above, is opening a Curvy Yoga studio in Nashville, Tenn., this fall. (Curvy Yoga)
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Anna Guest-Jelley thought something was wrong with her body, so she went on 65 different diets. Then, 15 years ago, she tried something that actually made her feel better: yoga.

But instructors didn’t always know what to do with her larger frame, and prodded her into uncomfortable, squished positions. Guest-Jelley remembers thinking, “This isn’t being talked about. I must be the only one who experiences it,” she says.

So the Nashville, Tenn., resident got teacher training and developed Curvy Yoga ( Since 2010, Guest-Jelley has certified 158 instructors worldwide — including one in D.C. and two in Alexandria — in her hatha-based body-positive yoga for people of all shapes and sizes. She’ll teach a class in D.C. next week.

What makes Curvy Yoga unique?
One, we have pose options for bigger-bodied people, so ways to make your belly feel more comfortable, for example. The other is in the way that I sequence the class, from the most supported version of the pose to the least supported so that everyone has a way to do a pose.

What’s a typical pose option?
A standing forward bend is a great example. Instead of coming into it with feet together, kind of compacted, I ask people to find a comfortable distance between their feet. As they fold forward, they can bring their hands to the low belly, tuck that belly skin down toward the pelvis and then fold forward. Then they can also bring hands to blocks instead of shins or the floor.

Any other common adjustments you suggest?
In inversions, many women can get something that I like to call “death by boob smoosh,” where you feel like you’re being strangled or suffocated by your own breasts, which is not a fun experience. People can take a strap, bind the strap at the top of the breast and then that keeps them from coming back when people are upside-down.

Why does yoga have a reputation for being only for skinny people?
There is that idea that you have to be thin or fit or flexible to come to yoga. In my estimation, there’s always a way someone can do a pose. It may not look like someone else’s pose, but they can find a way, whether it’s seated in a chair or using the support of a wall. It’s less about the external shape and more about what’s happening in the person’s body.

Anna Guest-Jelley will be teaching Curvy Yoga at Lil Omm (4708 Wisconsin Ave. NW; Monday at 7:45 p.m. A drop-in is $20.

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