Body acceptance, ED recovery and finding balance through yoga

I did my first ever yoga class when I was 17 years old and pregnant, my goal was to be able to open up my hips, and give birth naturally to my giant baby.

I wasn`t expecting to learn a lot more from it.

It was early in my the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy, the class wasn`t​ tailored to my needs ​and obviously,  my tree pose didn`t look as still as everybody else`s! Still, it felt very good in my body.

I went back home with this fluffy sensation in my stomach, I loved the yoga vibes and I was willing to give it another ago once things were more settled in my new motherhood adventure.

1 year later, there I was again. Very curious to learn more what yoga was all about

One of my biggest challenges when recovering from my Eating Disorder, was the disconnection I felt of my mind and my body.

Often, my thoughts, feelings, and actions were in direct conflict with one another. 

Back then, I wasn`t able to listen and respond to my own body’s hunger and satiety signals, and often had a very difficult time acknowledging my feelings and tolerating the discomfort of negative emotions. These were definitely the most difficult things I had to deal with, I am so glad I did, it changed my life!

Enter Yoga. Yoga means to yolk, or to connect.

Yoga offers an opportunity to reconnect the mind to the body through the breath.

Eating disorders are known for being very harmful to the body and to the mind, often, unintentionally, to those around us as well.

The practice of yoga is a practice of kindness, of peace, and of doing no harm. Including yourself.

Every time I restricted food when I was hungry, ate when I was are already full or had an out of control binge session, I harmed myself.

Purging, using laxatives, exercising to excess and other symptomatic ED behaviours are all very harmful to the body, and specially to the mind.

The physical practice of yoga, helped me to heal in many different ways:

By learning how to be PRESENT in the moment

Connecting the movement to the breath, made me become more mindful and more attuned to the present moment, without really noticing it. Soon, I was able to extend this practise to my real world, I became more present not just on the mat, but out of the mat as well; during work, while eating, with the people I loved and even during a bad day.

Because someone with an ED is often disconnected, dissociated, or not entirely present to what they are feeling or how much they might be eating, this capacity to tune into the present moment, also known as mindfulness, is a very important factor in recovery.

By accepting my BODY as it is

Yoga makes us become so in touch with our bodies, if we like it or not.

Sometimes we forget that we control that self judging voice in our heads. I truly believe we can change our mindset, if we want to. It`s an everyday, consistent practice, like any other habit you want to change.

Most of us have picked up our body shaming tendencies from society, and even our very own mothers who stood in full-length mirrors and made self-deprecating comments about their bodies.

Somehow, I learnt how to quite that internal nasty voice just by asking myself: “Would I say that to someone I care about?”

This made me gradually change my relationship with my body. I wanted to be kind to my body like I am be to my best friends.

Instead of body shaming every time I looked at myself in the mirror, I started to appreciate my body`s functionality, strength and flexibility. I also became more grateful for the things I used to take for granted, like my health, my family and my life in general.

Every time I had a though like “I hate my fat legs” I would rephrase that though with “I`m so lucky to have strong legs that allow me to do all the things I love, yoga, dancing, etc”  this was a simple, but very important shift for me.

By learning how to feel my uncomfortable FEELINGS and be OK with it

By holding the yoga postures, it allowed me to experience the tensions being released from my body.

The practice of staying with myself and feeling all my feelings, even when it was painful, was tough. But luckily, all I had to do was to show up for myself.

Just by showing up to what was there, all the emotions started to bubble away in the surface. I got to know what was true for me, even if it was messy and painful. Even if it meant dealing with rejection, loss and heartbreaks.

By now I knew that numbing my feelings with food wasn`t solving my problems, so I had to learn how to experience those feelings, and be OK with it. And feel them!

I stopped trying to find a way out, fix it quickly, or eat it away.

The one thing I learnt was the emotions don`t last forever, it is almost like a wave; they come, you acknowledge it, and they go. Sometimes is quickly, sometimes it takes longer, but no matter what happens, things move on! The natural impermanence of life.

This is what worked for me, but I believe that people can reconnect to their bodies is many other different ways. Meditating, going for walk, martial arts, bike riding, etc. Explore what works for you!

If you or someone you know is experiencing disordered eating or an eating disorder, know that you are not alone and that there is help. 

Get in touch

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