If any of you are fans of Elephant Journal you know that Waylon Lewis recently posted an article about his battle with food issues and eating disorders. Having been both anorexic and bulimic on my path I was so amazingly proud of him and his bravery in showing both his humanity and shedding much needed light on the issue.
This week Julie Peters, a EJ writer posted another article in response to WL’s that I found powerful as well. I hope the trend continues and more of the nearly 8 million Americans suffering with an eating disorder in America alone start to tell their stories and heal through whatever means (yoga just happens to be my choice). Here is an excerpt from JP’s article I connected too:
“It became this gorgeous rebellion of taking up more space, more luscious, powerful space with muscles and fat. My body started to become my friend, and I started to feel more powerful because I AM more powerful. I understand myself better. I trust myself more. I talk to my body now. It is so smart, it turns out. The best friend a girl could ask for…. It is this wellspring of intuition and knowledge that helps me get through pretty much everything, if not perfectly, and certainly not with that much control.”
Taking a new spin:
While I find yoga has helped many people with ED (eating disorder) I don’t deny that just like any form of calisthenic, if taken only as exercise, yoga can be another way to hide. “Oh i’m fine, I do yoga, I’m just lean because i’m vegan. I’m just thin because I do a lot of chatarungas.” When I hear these excuses all I can think is “who do you think you are fooling? Certainly not me, i’ve been there buddy.”
So what am I getting at here?
To yogis who suffer, look beyond the asana. Sure bending, strengthening, sweating are all wonderful…but in the end it isn’t the goal. These hippy stretches (gotta love my southern community) are just another way to open the body-mind connection to letting go and letting live. Your ED wants the opposite of that release, it wants control. Don’t let your yoga morph into another way to maintain that control. Look for new styles, new teachers, meditation, restorative, seva, karma yoga, bhakti yoga…EXPLORE yoga to explore yourself and your needs. And above all, get help. After all, yoga is union in and without eachother we are denying our “one-ness.”
To yoga teachers. Be aware. Notice when a student or friend is displaying tell tale signs of ED. Withdrawal, Constant PUSHING in practice, constant fidgeting in centering or savasana, weightloss or continual fatigue. I’m not advocating that you get in their face about it, but be a teacher beyond the mat and set a good example. Find a certified psychologist in your area that you can refer to when you have questions or if a student were to come to you with concerns. Know when to refer out! No lone wolves please.
Remember this, an ED is just another form of addiction. It isn’t the person, it isn’t your/their “self/soul/spirit” it is just another way of controlling life, which as we all come to learn is the least predictable, least controlable factor of our existence. Let go of fear, let go of ED.
Final note…if you ARE vegan, i’m certainly not knocking it! I’m a vegetarian, and if I still didn’t have lingering issues around food that scare the bejeezus out of me at times I would probably cut out all animal products. DO know that a vegan diet can be done in a healthy way…See Seane Corn! If this is you, speak to a qualified nutritionist or two or 108 about getting in your healthy fats, and proteins and creating a balanced diet. It takes more work, but if it’s part of your journey then do it in a way that supports your path and your connection to the world not hinders it.
Om Shanti Ya’ll
Yamas Applied to Eating: on Daily Cup of Yoga