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Archive for the ‘Eating Disorders and Yoga’ Category

Month of Self Love

In Eating Disorders and Yoga on February 15, 2012 at 3:24 am

Valentine’s Day came and went. How did you celebrate the day of love?

I used to really dislike Valentine’s Day. Shouldn’t you celebrate love everyday? I would be tremendously hurt if my loved one didn’t make a big deal out of it. But i myself hated the idea of making a big deal out if it. It was a lose lose situation to say the least. And the Valentine’s Day I was alone would be worse of all. I would sulk and mope about being alone, cringing at every lovey dove commercial.

This year I decided it was going to be different. I was not going to allow someone else to make or ruin my day. One of the many lessons I learned on my yoga mat is that we are the sole pilots on the plane of emotions. We have a choice of how others are going to affect us. But even more than that, through yoga I realized I am worthy of my own self love. In fact, there is no better love. Every time I stepped on my mat and listened to my body, self trust grew. I began to care how my body felt rather than reject it. Even if I was feeling fat or ugly that day, I tuned in and paid attention to what it wanted. Slowly that self trust grew off the mat.

On this Valentine’s Day, I committed to doing at least three things for me. Three things that would make me feel special and alive. It didn’t have to be big, it didn’t have to be expensive. It just had to be thoughtful.

One of the things I did was take my lunch break to go on a nice walk around my downtown. It felt good to get out of the office and enjoy the mild winter day. The second thing I did was buy myself a rose and carried it with me. It was nice to be able to rest my gaze on something beautiful at work. And lastly, I drew myself a bubble bath. I gave some time to myself to read, sit, and be.

By the end of the day I felt pampered and loved by the one person I am “stuck” with 24/7. It didn’t matter if the person in my life treated me the way they are supposed to according to the media. It didn’t matter if I was alone on the day of love. All that mattered was that I spent a little bit of time in my day to connect with my heart and spread a little happiness in my life.

So I decided I want to continue spreading Valentine’s Day cheer and do something nice to myself once a day. They say that you cannot love others until you love yourself. It hasn’t been easy to fall in love with myself, but I am not giving up. It’s a battle definitely worth fighting for and I know that if I put myself first even just once or twice a day, that can make all the difference.

I invite you to make this commitment with me. Let’s use this month to celebrate self love. Really dedicate a few moments each day to honor your uniqueness. We deserve it.

Fresh Start

In Eating Disorders and Yoga on January 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Dear Sprouters,

As some of you know know, and many of you might not, I am the new blogger for Sprout Yoga.

I stumbled upon Sprout’s webpage many months ago and as I was perusing their site, something just felt right. I felt like I was coming home.

Although I claim I started binging when I was dealing with the breakup of my first real relationship freshman year in college, truth be told I can now tell you I’ve had binge incidences since I was very young. A repressed memory that only came out during an intense therapy session, I can now distinctly remember when I was six years old waking up one morning to an empty apartment. I was terrified and lonely, so I went to the kitchen and grabbed myself a bowl of powered milk, something of a commodity in Brazil. I just kept eating it and eating it and my mom came home to a sick little girl.

Now, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression, I had a pretty great childhood. But incidences like those, as rare as they might have been, are stored in the brain and the body . The feelings of abandonment and loneliness I felt when my boyfriend and I broke up triggered the same feelings that little girl felt over a decade before. It also didn’t help I was feeling very insecure of my body and had surrounded myself with friends with unhealthy relationships with food. I fell into a downward spiral of binging, starving, over exercising, and binging some more. I decided early on in this vicious circle to go to therapy and although it helped me identify the source of my struggles and why I went to food for comfort (because as we all know, eating disorders are never really about the food), I still had my binges. I still felt my waistline expand. I still hated myself.

It took years before I realized that although therapy helped verbalize what I was feeling, I still wasn’t really in touch with my body. That’s where yoga came in. I first went to yoga I because I was bored and had nothing to do. But I found myself going time and time again, even when my schedule got hectic. Eventually I found myself loving the yoga philosophies of breath, connection, openness, compassion, and trust. As I began to respect my body, it started respecting me back. For the first time I started viewing my body as a partner in this path of life rather than a slave. 

The most transformative lesson I learned through yoga and therapy is that I have a choice of how I view my binge eating disorder. I can either see it as a curse, and wallow in my misery for the rest of my life. Or I can view it as a way of learning more about myself and using it as a stepping stone for mindful presence.

I decided to undergo yoga teacher training because I knew I wanted to share this magical connection I have found with others. I want to give those with food issues an option. A way out. A little strand of hope that you do not have to suffer forever. That there really IS a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Now, let me level with you. I am not telling you this from a place of total “healing”, whatever that may be. I still struggle with loving myself, loving my dysfunctional relationship with food, and loving a life that has given me this obstacle. I am much further than I was those dark days of college. But I still have an exciting road ahead of me. And I wouldn’t trade it all for the world.

So why am I sharing all this with you?

Well because I want you to know that you are not alone. I am right there with you, cheering you on, spreading the light, and providing you a platform for you to find hope again.

I want this blog to be source of healing. A place that you can come and read words of those who are right there along with you. Body image warriors who advocate that there is more to life than looking a certain way. Recovered anorexics who can give you guidance and reassurance. Therapists who know techniques for when you are at your worse state. You’ll hear from Maggie, our wonderful founder from time to time, as well as Sprout teachers from around the country. There will be videos, essays, poems, and factual pieces about new legislation and scientific discoveries of the world of yoga and eating disorders. A little bit of everything!

That is what I aspire for in this space. I hope you all enjoy our time together.

If you would like to contact me for more details on how you can help Sprout, if you would like to contribute to the blog, or if you just want to say hi, my email is -thaiscgui@gmail.com

Namaste friends!

Thais

Body Positive: Asana for Disordered Eating

In Eating Disorders and Yoga on January 23, 2010 at 5:38 pm

I often am asked by yoga teachers and therapists to explain which specific poses people with disordered eating should do. I usually side step this question as the point of doing mind body work for those with disordered eating or eating disorders is not that a specific pose will make you love your body, or if you just did more balancing poses you would feel more balanced and therefore be able to stick to a meal plan providing you with enough nutrition. On the contrary, the mind body connection one gets from yoga for some can take more than a few classes to catch on or for some can start from the first pose (or asana in sanskrit).  The point is the approach to yoga as a mind body practice that can help those with disordered eating and eating disorders cultivate a tolerance for the body and an ear for what the body needs.

So, you say, that’s fantastic, but aren’t there some poses that would resonate more with people with disordered eating? Of course. Here’s a brief run down of poses and series that can be used in healing eating issues. If you want to know more, check out our soon to be released manual, with information on eating disorders, body dysmorphia, yoga concepts, and suggested themes for class, with sample meditations.

ASANA:

Poses that activate the throat chakra, such as plow pose and reverse plank pose: by bringing energy into the throat, with the understanding that it can open up communication with the self, in terms of how you speak to your body and learning to speak to your body with compassion.

Poses and series that focus on surrender, such as child’s pose and reclined bound angle pose: by creating space to open up some area, like the heart in child’s pose or the hips in bound angle pose, you can allow yourself to experience your body as whole and weighty and with guidance from the yoga teacher, get into the root of any body dysmorphia in terms of size of the body or size of a particular body part such as the hips.

Poses that activate or open the third eye chakra, such as child’s pose or fish pose: by activating the third eye, with information about yoga’s view on information – direct experience versus information from others – a sense of trust of the self can be created. That trust can then be fostered into being in other areas of your life. A simple example would be allowing yourself to be the body shape that is healthy for you, rather than listening to information from others, such as magazines or television, about what body shape you should have.
The possibilities of poses and series and approaches to yoga for eating disorders and disordered eating are never ending. Which, if you think about it, is brilliant as healing from an eating disorder requires as many approaches and tools and methods as possible, as the disease is cunning and powerful.

FREE YOGA: no really, a continuing list of yoga classes without fees

In Eating Disorders and Yoga, PTSD and Yoga, Uncategorized on April 6, 2009 at 12:42 am

This is just the beginning of what will hopefully be a long list of free yoga. I’m posting this for those of you who think that yoga may help you in your journey to health from PTSD or Eating Disorders, but aren’t quite sure what yoga is. I’m also posting it because I know that these are hard economic times, and trying out a yoga class at $15 or $18 is not workable.

If you know of a free yoga class at your studio, gym, place of worship, school or other center, please add to this list.

Make sure to check out the comment section to this post for more free yoga!

NAMASTE,

Maggie

Check out the Yoga Bear site for information about how to get a free pass to classes, available for all cancer survivors: http://www.yogabear.org/

FREE VIDEOS

FREE YOGA

Seattle, Washington

New York City

Boulder, Colorado

Bend, Oregon Seva program (work for practice/class)

DONATION YOGA

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

Pittsburgh, PA:

San Fransisco (and surrounding area), California:

Chicago, Illinois:

Athens, Georgia:

New York City, New York:

Jefferson City, Missouri

Baltimore, Maryland:

http://www.parksidepoweryoga.com/

Decatur, Georgia:

Columbia, South Carolina:

Calagary, Albert, Canada

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Why Yoga? Why use Yoga to Help People Heal Emotional Disorders?

In Eating Disorders and Yoga, PTSD and Yoga, Sprout Yoga Activities, Uncategorized on January 29, 2009 at 9:45 pm

My back hurts today. I mean, REALLY hurts. As in I couldn’t get off the heating pad yesterday, and even brought it into work with me. It hasn’t hurt this badly in almost ten years. That was the summer when I started applying to law school, working at a fancy firm in Washington, DC, crouched over my computer like quasimodo due to the way the set the keyboard and monitor up. Eventually I ended up with a lower lumbar sprain due to the horrid posture I had (my pleas for a new computer desk went entirely answered). I finally caved and went to the doctor when I couldn’t walk. I ended up in a backbrace in physical therapy for several months.

I realized that all the physical therapy exercises I’d been given were really yoga poses, so I asked if I could just do yoga instead.

“Sure you can honey, if you do it twice a day,” they told me. Well, I did. I did so much yoga it would shock and amaze you. Its incredible what constant pain will do for you.

And I was lucky that I had a good enough background in yoga that I could recognize that I could do yoga for lower back stretching and strengthing. And I’m lucky now that I can grab a yoga anatomy book and figure out which of the many muscles in my lower back are aching and which poses will help with that specific muscle.

So why yoga for people with eating disorders and post traumatic stress disorder? Because if you know yoga, you know that its purpose is not to build skinny lithe bodies, but to integrate your mind, spirit and body into one whole being. That means, as you get more familiar with yoga, you can do just what I did at the physical therapist’s office – recognize what yoga you need to do to take care of your physical body.

In hindsight, I’m sure that my tenseness over choosing a career and wondering if I’d be any good at it probably contributed to my lower back strain all those years ago. Because of my yoga experience, and training, opening and awakening, I can see what emotions do to specific parts of my body. For example, when I have too many things on my plate, I often get cramps in my hands, as if they’d been open too long, grasping a large ball too long. In essence, I’m trying to hold on to one too many things.

Similarly, people who are surviving an eating disorder must relearn the concepts of hungry, hurt, tired, sleepy and a whole host of other emotions and sensations. By learning how to listen to their bodies, through yoga, they are better able to process in the other therapeutic methods (like counseling, etc.). I’m not advocating to not seek treatment for an eating disorder, rather, I’m advocating to incorporate yoga into the several, or hundreds of different treatments to save a person with an eating disorder.

Just as movement therapy has been shown to increase the effectiveness of treatment for post traumatic stress disoder in books such as “The Body Remembers” by Babette Rothschild. In her very well written psychological book, she lovely advocates for the clients she treats. By that I mean, if one method isn’t working, try another, and another and another.

So why yoga? I think of what chicken little said when they found him, laying on the street with his feet in the air. “Why Chicken Little, do you really think you can keep the sky from falling down with those spindly little legs?”
“Well,” said Chicken Little, “one does what one can.”

Yoga is something that everyone, from any culture, age, racial background, language background, or gender can do. Its a tangible, sensible way to learn not only how to breathe, but also where you start to tense up when you are afraid – of a pose, of trying something new, etc. – but better yet, you learn to know when you are feeling afraid and that its alright to take care of that emotion.

So that’s why yoga – because everyone deserves to feel at ease with themselves and their bodies – everyone deserves to live a productive and beautiful life. We were created for that. In fact, right now, with the economy in the toilet, we need everyone we can get to be productive, producing members of society. Its good for us, its good for you.

And at the end of the day, its just yoga. Anyone with a pair of pajamas and a towel can do it.