How Yoga Helped Me Fight an Eating Disorder

December 12, 2016

Although I have never been officially diagnosed with an eating disorder, I have struggled with body image and disordered eating for years. There were times when I refused to eat anything containing even a gram of fat. I thought if I ate fat, I would become fat. Other times, I would look at myself and think I was too thin. I was at a time in my life where it seemed the only thing I could control was what I ate. Controlling what I ate seemed to give me a sense of balance and stability in life. It wasn’t until I found yoga that I became self-aware and saw that I actually was not caring for myself, not loving myself. In reality, I was harming myself. My yoga practice helped me develop the tools I needed to fight the eating disorder and gave me the ability to replace self-harm with self-love and acceptance.

I started taking yoga classes at my local community center. I was never much of an athlete and was looking for some type of exercise to tone my body and help me relax. With yoga, I was able to quiet the negative voices in my head that worried about what I ate and how much I weighed. For the first time, I was able to see myself without judgment. My mind and body formed a connection that hadn’t been there before. Eventually, this connection started to replace the need to control what I ate. I continued with yoga and began to eat a healthier, more balanced diet. My confidence and self-acceptance improved and I started to see myself in a different light. As I became healthier, I also noticed that yoga was making my body stronger. The mind and body connection I had discovered was strengthening me emotionally and physically.

Despite the fact that millions are affected by eating disorders, there remains a lot of misinformation about these devastating and life-threatening illnesses. For many years eating disorders have been thought of as only a “women’s problem”. Men who suffer from eating disorders have been overlooked or ignored. In the United States, it is estimated that 10 million men suffer from eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. I wanted to share my story to show that we (guys) struggle with it as well. Maybe you are a man just like me and this will give you strength to share your story.

Many people don’t realize the seriousness of an eating disorder. They simply brush it off as extreme dieting, not realizing that eating disorders are serious, complex, and potentially life-threatening conditions. The reality is that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. While there are treatment centers that cater specifically to eating disorders, they are expensive and have low long-term success rates. Comparatively speaking, yoga is an affordable, accessible and effective component of a recovery program. As I found, the practice of being present helped me learn how to change the way I viewed my self-worth. I no longer looked in the mirror to find my self-worth. I closed my eyes, went to my mat and learned that who I was came from inside, not outside.

Yoga may not be the treatment answer for everyone with an eating disorder. Recovery is a process, just like yoga. Before you can begin to heal, you need to be open to healing. Yoga will teach you to be kind to yourself, and that is the first step on your journey to overcoming an eating disorder.

Szymon is the founder of Love Meditating, a meditation-yoga blog dedicated to provide honest advice and information. He aspires to help his readers achieve inner peace and tranquility, sharing 
personal tips learned through both years of experience and thorough research.

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