Author’s note: this post is a guest contribution by Anna Guest-Jelley of Curvy Yoga.

I have a hang-up about permission. For some reason, I am always seeking it – often unconsciously.

When I first started practicing yoga, this is pretty much all I did. I was constantly hangin’ out in the back corner, looking around the room, waiting for someone to find me out. To see me and say “Wait: who let you in here?!”

I also do this in my relationships (“Does this person really want to be my friend?” “Is it possible that my hubby loves me this much?”), work (“It’s only a matter of time until someone discovers what a fraud I am and fires me”) and even play (“Is it okay to take this vaca? What if I miss an important email?”).

What Permission Really Means

At the root of all these questions is a sneaking suspicion – that I am not okay. That I am not enough.

When I am seeking permission for anything, I am looking outside myself for an answer. I’m saying to myself that I can’t be trusted to decide, know, live, love on my own.

When I don’t get the permission I’m seeking from others, it’s (unsurprisingly) difficult for me to give it to myself. So it just sits in the root of my gut – making itself bigger and bigger, scarier and scarier.

Giving Myself Permission

Over time, I realized that no one was going to give me permission to live my life on my own terms. That one was solidly on my own shoulders. So I set about figuring out how to give it to myself.

My yoga practice is a great example of this. After years of practicing while looking over my shoulder, waiting for someone to tap me out for not looking like the other ethereally thin beings in class, I began to consciously take up more space. I didn’t cram my mat back as far as possible in the corner. And I started to figure out curvy modifications that would work for my body. Because not only had no one come to tell me I couldn’t do yoga, they also hadn’t come to tell me how to do it in a way that worked for my body.

So I took that upon myself – with the support of whatever resources I could find.

Where Can You Give Yourself Permission?

If you’re interested in trying this process, here are a few options to try:

  • Take a deep breath: It’s amazing how grounding even just one deep breath can be. I know it sounds a little corny, or that you may have heard it one too many times, but seriously – give it a try. I’ll wait.
  • Ask yourself what you really need: After that deep breath, ask yourself what kind of permission you need. Allow whatever answer comes up to stand. If you’re like me, you may be inclined to dismiss the first answer, or rationalize it away, but I’ve found that the more you can let that answer stand, the smoother this process becomes.
  • Meet your needs: Did you discover that you needed permission to rest? Or try a different yoga teacher? Or to reschedule dinner with your friend? Or to only do Savasana in your home practice? Meeting the need that came up is the most sure-fire way to build up trust and self-permission.

Permission to CURVE

This process has served me well as I continue to develop my curvy yoga practice and share it with others. It’s also why I named my new book all about curvy yoga pose modifications Permission to CURVE: Inspiring Poses for Curvy Yogis & Their Teachers.

I’d wanted to write a book that empowered people to find their unique yoga practice – one that is infused with self-kindness and meeting yourself right where you are. As the book unfolded, I realized that permission had to be at its root – not permission from me, but permission from yourself.

This is your body. Your yoga practice. Your needs. Your wants. Your boundaries. Your delights. Your joys. Your sorrows. Your excitements.

Claim them all – and give yourself permission to CURVE!

Anna Guest-JelleyAnna Guest-Jelley is the founder of Curvy Yoga — a training & inspiration portal for curvy yogis & their whole-hearted teachers. As a writer, teacher & lifelong champion for women’s empowerment & body acceptance, Anna encourages women of every size, age & ability to grab life by the curves. And never let go. Share your curviest tweets with Anna at @CurvyYoga.

Get your own Permission to Curve

Permission to CurveExplore Anna’s new book Permission to Curve with over 60 curvy pose options and 15 videos for those must-see poses at I was super excited to be one of the first to get to lay eyes on this awesome go-to guide for curvy yogis. I highly recommend it for yogis who are curious about modifying their own practice, beginners who want an illustrated guide to poses, and yoga teachers who would like more information about how to accommodate their more bountiful students. Check out the book, and do let me know what you think!

Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik