Yoga therapy FOR DISORDERED EATING
Millions of us struggle with our relation
ships to food and our bodies. These struggles may include food phobias (“If I eat that, I will balloon into x-number of pounds”), ideas about good and bad foods (“If I eat that ‘bad’ food, then I’m bad”), rigid food rules (“If I eat only this
many calories, I will be safe”), bingepurge strategies (large amounts of food eaten in a frenzy over a relatively short period of time, ending in regret or disgust and prompting a purge strategy, such as vomiting, laxatives, compulsive exercise, or increased food rigidity), and/or yo-yo
dieting (serial dieting to relieve bodycentered feelings of not-good-enough, or the promise of finally losing those last 10
pounds forever). Every day, I’m asked, “What can I do to stop this?” My first aim is to alleviate suffering: A primary cause of suffering is the internalized voices of shame that both underlie and keep in motion disordered eating and self-harm cycles. Helping people discover their innate vitality and wisdom lessens their suffering. These attributes may be hidden under painful behaviors and thoughts, yet they still exist.
Yoga teaches that life longs to live itself through each of us vibrantly, uniquely, and beautifully. This expression is more likely to flourish when we aren’t under siege from our shame voices, and when we aren’t interrupting, suppressing, or trying to coerce our vitality. Herein lies one of the great gems of yoga as a therapeutic tool. Throughout my 16+ years of working with clients as a yoga therapist, I’ve found that most share a painful belief that there is something intrinsically and irredeemably wrong with them. Shame convinces us that we’re broken, flawed, worth punishing, deserving of pain, and in need of fixing. Yoga illuminates a more abiding truth about each of us: We were born as love, innocence, and radiance. Yoga provides a body-centered recognition of this as breath and movement dissipate the physicalysical and mental residues of