When you recover from your eating disorder, you may find yourself on your yoga mat to fast-forward the process. I started yoga following a group therapy session where we did yoga. I couldn’t believe how one session made me more connected to my body already. These are some ways that yoga can help you recover from your eating disorder.
1. Mind/Body Connection
My eating disorder turned me against my body, fostering the idea that it was a disgusting and disgraceful thing that needed to be improved. One benefit of yoga when recovering from your eating disorder is that it helps build a healthier mind/body connection. I learned to respect my body for the work it does, find the strength hidden inside of it and not harass it for its limitations. Yoga can be a great place to start to build that awareness as you choose to ignore the comments your eating disorder is making about your body.
There is an element of mindfulness to yoga, no doubt about it. My therapist uses a mindfulness-approach to recovery so I was well-aware of the perks of being in the present moment. When you’re at yoga, it’s easy to get wrapped into the train of thoughts that distract you day in and day out. But your yoga teacher gently reminds you that every breath is an invitation to be back in the present moment. Once you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, it becomes easier to silence your mind and just be present.
Yoga teaches you to be kind to your body. When you try to push your way into a pose, your body will fight back. When I’m in class, I find myself listening to my body and noticing when I need to have a more gentle class than usual. The kindness yoga offers to your body is unlike the self-hatred that you put your body through during the height of your illness. It’s time to take a step back and take care of your body instead of pushing it beyond its limits.
4. Muscle Memory
Muscle memory is stronger than other forms of memory. Yoga allows you to form new muscle memories. My eating disorder led me to over-exercising each day. The strain I put on my body was beginning to take its toll. Yoga has allowed me to continue to exercise but build more positive muscle memories along the way than when I pushed them to their breaking point.
5. Listening to Your Body
Yoga provides the tools to help you learn to listen to your body. It has helped me pay closer attention to my hunger signals and eat accordingly. What’s more, I make efforts to eat regularly so that I can maintain my energy going into a yoga practice. You have to listen to your body if you expect it to take you places in life. It wants to help you so you’ve got to listen to it.
6. All Connected
When I’m on my yoga mat, I’m reminded of how we are all connected. Chanting fills the yoga studio with sound that emanates from everyone in the room in unison. I also notice how grounded I feel after a yoga practice. My eating disorder isolated me from others and made me feel alone. Yoga reminds me that we are all connected in an inexplicable way.
We all have a past and we all have a future but all that matters is right now. Yoga reminds us to be mindful of that fact. I used to beat myself up for the hell my eating disorder put me through when I should have been aware that yes, it happened but I don’t need to perpetuate that cycle. Yoga teaches me that the present moment is all we have. It inspires me to try to use it further my recovery.