require constancy of attention and selfrespect. As a result, this practice will also build your mental muscles, those required to develop additional selfnurturing skills. This is self-nurturing discipline, the discipline required to nurture, not to punish or “get control over,” yourself.
To nourish your innate vitality, use the Seven Body Dashboard Essentials:
hydration (enough water throughout the day)
deep rest (good sleep as well as brain-restoring yoga practices)
nourishment (maintaining balanced blood sugar)
heart rate up exercise)
connecting with nature (through all five senses)
right-brain activities (mindful movement, creativity, imagination)
elimination (the obvious, plus laughing and crying)
Beginning with any one of these reveals and develops your relationship to self-nurturance and to your vitality. Blessedly, committing to this self-nurturance improves not only your ability to navigate food and body choices, but also your brain chemistry—while teaching you the essential life skills of recovery. Food might have become a diversion, preventing you from further developing your life skills, but just as yoga heals the body, it also teaches you the life skills you need for recovery and for life. GETTING IN THE GAP: This mindfulnessbased skill trains the mind to get Grounded in the here and now, to wield Attention, and to gradually become Present. Whether you are mindfully breathing or stretching a muscle, develop non-judgmental curiosity and kindness toward your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. This process fundamentally calms your brain and soothes fear. GETTING COMFORTABLE FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE: Life, recovery, and personal growth will all require you to navigate discomfort. If you’ve narrowed your bandwidth for tolerating discomfort, you’ll be more anxious, which is echoed in your breathing. Yoga teaches you about getting comfortable feeling uncomfortable with varieties of body-centered sensations, such as muscles stretching, as well as the sensations of and any discomfort associated with ease, contentment, elation, poignancy, or joy. MOVING FROM LOVE, NOT SHAME: As you breathe, move, and respect your body and brain, you also transform your internal conversation from one of shame to one of love. This expands your kindness with yourself as well as toward others. You’ll develop networks of companions also recovering from shame. We all become more kind, compassionate, and wise. PERSONAL BUOYANCY: Yoga teaches you to care for and increase your resilience. Through the Body Dashboard activities, you restore your physiological buoyancy. Developing your self-respect, kindness toward yourself and others, and companionship in recovery also boosts your personal, relational, and spiritual buoyancy.
Developing these yogic tools will give you the freedom to create a new life. One that truly satisfies your mind, body, and full self—one free from disordered eating and the shame that arises from it.
Sarahjoy Marsh is a yoga therapist with a master’s degree in counseling. In her new book, Hunger, Hope & Healing: A Yoga Approach to Reclaiming Your Relationship to Your Body and Food, she fuses yoga with psychology, neuroscience, breathing interventions, and mindfulness techniques to bring readers with eating disorders, disordered eating, and body image issues a practical and accessible guide to recovery.