Eating disorders severely affect the lives of the people they plague– no matter how long that time might endure. Read up on 10 yoga poses that all encourage relief, and alleviate the suffering so closely tied with an eating disorder. They have a higher mortality rate than any other mental illness, and in today’s world, they are dishearteningly prevalent– up to 30 million Americans suffer from some form of eating disorder.
While eating disorders seem a problem exclusive to the modern world, ancient remedies have proven very helpful with addressing modern problems. In this regard, yoga can actually sometimes be very helpful for people with this sort of issue. Let’s talk about some yoga poses for eating disorders, as well as some basic principles of yoga practice that may be helpful.
Yoga and Psychological Problems
The psychological factors that contribute to suffering from an eating disorder include feelings of inadequacy, a perceived lack of control in life, low self-esteem, depression, stress, loneliness, anger and stress. As a physical and spiritual practice, yoga can help you to connect with the moment and to release negative emotions. Focusing on breathing and meditation during your practice can help you to find an inner calm that can help you to deal with the emotional problems that may be contributing to your disorder. This is one of the most well-founded reasons to adopt yoga practices for eating disorders.
According to some ways of thinking, eating disorders are associated with an imbalance in the root chakra, the chakra which deals with feelings of security and safety. If this is true, some of the best yoga poses for eating disorders may be those which strengthen the first chakra.
Here are some poses that may help you to ground yourself and strengthen your first chakra:
Mountain pose is one of the most basic poses in yoga. Stand tall in it, breathing deeply and feeling your connection to the earth. Imagine that you’ve rooted yourself down into the ground, where you feel stable and safe.
Warrior one is a wonderful pose that can help you to feel connected and strong. Breathe deeply while in this pose, finding grounding in your feet and lifting through your arms. Imagine the color red flowing into your root chakra as you hold the pose.
Bridge isn’t just a great way to strengthen your glutes and core, it is also thought to be good for releasing excess energy from the root chakra. Breathe deeply as you hold the pose.
If you’re interested in yoga and eating disorders, you may find crab pose helpful. Similar to the previous poses, this one can help you to focus on your root chakra.
Pigeon is a great way to loosen up and open the hips. Try to keep your hips square as you relax into the pose. As with all of these yoga poses for eating disorders, breathe deeply into your root chakra.
Locust pose is known as a good strengthening pose that can help to prepare you for more intense backbends. As you do it, pay attention to your body. Don’t push further than feels good.
Staff pose may look easy, but it actually can be quite challenging. Perform this pose actively and truly focus on good form and posture. Root down through your spine to find a sense of strength and stability.
Goddess pose is a powerful and challenging pose that has a variety of physical benefits. Additionally, it can help you to feel a greater sense of self-acceptance and strength by connecting with your root chakra, which makes it great to include when you’re doing yoga to overcome an eating disorder.
Prayer squat is another pose that opens you up and can help you feel more comfortable with yourself in your body. Focus on your breathing and on self-acceptance as you hold this pose.
A Few Cautions
The National Eating Disorders Association lists the following as social factors that can contribute to eating disorders:
- Cultural pressures that glorify “thinness” or muscularity and place value on obtaining the “perfect body”
- Narrow definitions of beauty that include only women and men of specific body weights and shapes
- Cultural norms that value people on the basis of physical appearance and not inner qualities and strengths
Unfortunately, some yoga classes end up perpetuating the cultural obsession with an artificial standard of fitness or beauty. Additionally, people with a propensity toward eating disorders or emotional issues can sometimes develop an unhealthy and obsessive relationship toward their practice. If you do yoga for an eating disorder, try to find a nurturing and accepting class, and be aware of your own feelings and motivations as you practice.
If you have an eating disorder, it is important that you seek proper treatment. Proper treatments for eating disorders can make a huge difference in helping you to achieve a greater state of health. While you may find yoga for eating disorders helpful, this does not mean that you should ignore professional treatment. None of the previous information about yoga and eating disorders should be taken as medical advice or as a replacement for professional medical attention.