Lessons in Strength, Resiliency and the Power of Yoga

February 27, 2017

The following is second of six YBIC National Eating Disorders Awareness Week daily posts that highlights how the practice of yoga can be an integral component in the effective treatment of and on-going recovery from eating disorders and disordered eating. 

After years of feeling ashamed about my eating disorder, I look around at our world and realize how many people are going through similar issues. I have realized that it’s time to talk about it in the hopes that my story of recovery will help others as well.

For me, it started when I was a teenager. I was comparing myself to others daily. I was never skinny enough, attractive enough or popular enough. I thought I should get in better shape to “fix” myself, so I got a gym membership and started changing my eating habits. I began focusing on calories in and calories out, and how many hours I could spend exercising. This focus soon turned to obsession, and before long, I was at a dangerously low weight. My doctor said that if I did not start eating more, and putting on weight, he would recommend hospitalization.

It wasn’t long after that scary realization that I began to unroll my yoga mat. I started with basic DVDs in my bedroom, and eventually found my way into a local studio. The practice of yoga helped me to focus less on my outer appearance and more on what made me happy, because it reminds me to focus on how I’m feeling. I’m constantly reminded that it’s not about how the pose looks, it’s how I feel in the pose. I can then take that same mindset into my life, off the mat by remembering that it’s not how I look; it’s how I feel.

One day, my world changed. I was involved in a traumatic accident. To rebuild my body, I turned to practicing yoga in my chair. Thanks to my yoga practice I was not only able to cut my recovery time in half, but was also blessed with recognizing the strength and resilience my body truly has.

The accident made me realize that we have no idea how long our time in this life will be, and that life is too short to punish ourselves with thoughts of self-doubt, harmful comparison, and concern with outside opinions.

Yoga has helped me to heal both mentally and physically. I still occasionally suffer from food-related anxiety, but this has gotten a lot better. Yoga has given me the tools to work through the anxiety, allowing me to make healthy choices. It has also helped me to realize that I am so much more than my physical body, and that my worth is not related to my appearance. I have stopped focusing on all the ads, magazines and people whom are trying to convince me that I am not good enough, that I need to change to be worthy. Meditating has helped me connect to my true self, and helped me to stop caring about “ideal bodies” and fitting into society’s mold. Yoga has taught me that I do not need to “fix” myself. I have realized that I already am enough, exactly as I am.

My eating disorder led me to yoga, and yoga saved me. Today, and every day, I will continue to unroll my mat.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, know that you are not alone and that there is help. For more information and resources you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

Photo Credit: Cass Ettinger

Danielle Crowe is a yoga teacher, the owner of Body Solace Studio in Truro, NS Canada, and the co-founder of Find Solace Within – a body-positive brand inspiring others to look within themselves for happiness. Danielle is also proud to be a newly appointed peer mentor for Eating Disorders NS. With these platforms of awareness, Danielle hopes to inspire as many people as she can with the concept that it’s not the outside that matters, but what’s inside that counts.

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