Taking More From Yoga

As it turns out, recovering from an eating disorder isn’t the same as recovering from drug addiction or alcoholism – all are soul sucking and difficult, but an ED presents itself with one subtle difference – abstinence is not an option. When your addiction is food, you can’t just stop eating and go about your day, you need to find a way to eat enough (but not too much,) be around food everyday without using it as a crutch or a coping mechanism, taken adequate exercise without feeding the obsession. But I didn’t need to tell you that.

It has been such a struggle to fight the compensatory behavior – the fasting, the compulsive exercise – that my general reaction was to do the exact opposite – binge eat and veg out on the couch. But this is still engaging in unhealthy habits and this is still not being kind to your body.

It is so hard to motivate myself to do the right thing sometimes – and when I do go to an extreme (either over-restriction or over-indulgence) I often find myself rationalizing my choices and chastising myself for what I have done, this has a negative effect on my emotions and boom: back to square one. On a really bad day, I start reminiscing and idealizing the old days when I exercised for at least an hour 6 days a week, all whilst slashing calories enormously. Luckily, most days I can avoid this. But I can’t bring myself to run everyday, I can’t make myself cycle and lift weights and do aerobics and go to the gym day in and day out.

Its not all doom and gloom. Once or twice a week, I go for a walk/run or do some kickboxing. And I can make myself do this because I promise myself that the others days I exercise, I can do yoga. I have said it so many times in the last year but yoga really is a lifesaver. Not only does it stretch out all the aches and pains and give you a workout without a heart attack (and therefore takes the dread out of it), yoga connects your mind and body and promotes harmony in one’s thoughts and actions.

The above is a bit of a cliche but I rediscovered this today during my morning’s yoga. Yoga instructors so often talk about focusing on the present and focusing on being rather than doing and it is something that I have always intellectually acknowledged. Today, however, something clicked. I was holding Utkatasana for a while and my shoulders were burning and my legs were feeling it and all I could think was “cue it over. Please.” And all of I sudden, I stopped fidgeting and detached. And then the pain was just over. The unpleasantness had just ended. It was the closest thing to a religious experience I have had in recent memory  – the Buddhist concept of separation from suffering came glaringly to mind.

Being aware of this ability to focus inwards and detach whilst on the mat is one thing. Now to apply that to everything else in my life.

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