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Yoga and a Battle with Eating Disorder

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

I started yoga at a point of time in my life when I was exercising excessively. I had just gone through phases of being bulimic, and eventually decided to allow myself to eat whatever I please while trying to burn them off through back to back workout classes on a daily basis. It didn't really occur to me that my eating problems weren't actually resolved.

Yogi doing bird of paradise pose

My thoughts often spiralled downhill every time I don't get a workout in, and I started hating myself and everyone around me.

'Meeting at 6pm? Why?! I can't go for my class and I'm gonna be fat. I hate my boss'

I also found myself selecting yoga classes that were intense and physically challenging, while doing every jump back that I can to keep the heart rate up. At the end of every class, I'd tap on my watch to check the calories burned.

'Urgh only 185 calories. All these newbies in class are making the instructor slow things down.'

Back then, yoga was really just another workout class to me. I was mostly waiting for the next move without being bothered about what happens in between or within the pose itself. I'd already stop throwing up, and neither did I starve myself, but my relationship with food (and myself) was still an unhealthy one.

That obsession with working out continued until I tore my meniscus from wind surfing one day. There wasn't any choice but to stop all my other activities - no Zumba, no pole, no HIIT, no running, no climbing, except for yoga. Yoga was still challenging for my injured knee but I've somehow managed to find my way around it. It was a depressing period, but I'm glad that it has allowed me to explore the practice differently.

I started joining slower paced classes which allowed me to notice what runs through my head. There will always be triggers along the way (stumbling out of a balancing pose, or even being unable to do a challenging movement) that ruffled my thoughts and emotions.

'Why do I keep falling out of Warrior III? I'm bad at this.'

'Almost everyone in class can do a crow pose already. I will never be good enough for this'

Over time, I've started to recognize thought patterns that accompanied those triggers, process how they've made me feel and learn how to react differently to them. Catching those moments where I felt compelled to binge eat mindlessly and being able to work through those feelings also started becoming a little easier.

I'm at a better place now and I'll always be grateful of how things took a turn but eating disorders are highly complicated. If you're going through something similar, I do recommend seeking professional help. There's really no perfect solution to every problem that we have but hopefully, your practice will help you navigate through life in some ways.


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