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4 posts from October 2012

10/30/2012

Yoga Resources for Recovery from Eating Disorders

If you would like a very gentle start to your yoga practice, I recommend the book yoganap: Restorative Poses for Deep Relaxation by Kristen Rentz. It contains restorative yoga poses, designed for complete relaxation. The author is a professional during the week and a yoga instructor on the weekend. Her instructions are easy to understand and the exercises are totally doable. There are even some poses you can do from your desk at work!

For further reading, you can explore the Yoga Journal website at http://www.yogajournal.com/.

10/23/2012

How the Principles of Yoga Can Help Heal Food Issues

Though I've been practicing yoga for years, it was in my recent yoga teacher training program when I started to realize the broad implications of the benefits of yoga. Just as the book Living Your Yoga implies, there are many places in our everyday life where yoga can apply.

Here are some of the yoga principles that have come up most often as I have counseled people with eating disorders and food addiction to "live their yoga."

  • Letting go – instead of using food behaviors to bury uncomfortable feelings, let them go
  • Getting centered – instead of feeling pressured and anxious, pause and come back to the present moment where you can make more self-compassionate choices
  • Connecting to other people and to a higher power – food has been barrier between you and other people
  • Tolerating discomfort – learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings will give you the power to move through them without using food or food behaviors
  • Taking time to relax and regenerate – instead of feeling intimidated by silence and stillness as they compete with your busy mind, let it all go and give your body and mind the break they need
  • Being grounded – feel a sense of support and connection to the earth below
  • Soothing yourself – instead of reaching for food or other harmful behaviors, learn to self-soothe in healthy ways
  • Surrounding yoursef with beauty – empower your sense of self-worth by choosing to indulge in healthy forms of joy and pleasure
  • Witnessing without reacting – let go of judgment and practice accepting things as they come

If you're interested in learning how to apply these principles in your own life in recovery, watch for more details about our yoga classes. For those who want to go deeper, we will offer small yoga therapy groups and private yoga therapy.

Yoga practice is a safe place where you can feel both relaxed and energized. Through yoga you can learn to use these principles and apply them to your whole life, gaining clarity and a sense of rejuvenation, and freedom from the stressors of an eating disorder.

10/12/2012

The Mind-Body Disconnect of Eating Disorders

For people with eating disorders, there's a clear disconnect between body and mind – it's like living from the neck up. Because that reconnection is so vital to recovery, many treatment methods are designed to realign the mind, body and spirit.

Getting back that connection helps people find acceptance, awareness and appreciation for their bodies, which naturally leads to wanting to take better care of themselves.

Drawing on my recent experience with yoga teacher training, and in partnership with some of my colleagues who are already registered yoga teachers and yoga therapists, we now have yoga and yoga therapy at the White Picket Fence Foundation.

Yoga is much more than just postures. In fact, some of my therapy clients have been benefiting from my yoga experience for years, as I've incorporated relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, guided imagery and meditation.

The benefits of yoga are well researched, and it is a natural fit to help with food issues. For example, many people have a problem with overeating or restricting during stressful times.Yoga works directly upon the nervous system to evoke relaxation and diminish stress. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system that promotes rest and regeneration and reduces the fight or flight response that brings anxious, stressful feelings.

In the next article, we'll explore some of the principles of yoga and how they can be applied to recovery from eating disorders.

10/02/2012

Yoga Therapy – A Personal Note from Sandee

Clients are often curious about what I do when I'm not working at the Center. Like most of you, there are many things that keep me busy – sometimes I joke that I have to go pay to relax. My favorite method of relaxation is yoga, and it's one of the main ways I incorporate spirituality into my life.

As part of a recent yoga teacher training, I wrote a paper called "Better Body Esteem," about how a yoga program I designed can address so many of the body image issues that accompany eating disorders and food addiction.

On the cover of my paper is a photo of my mother in a red one-piece leotard, upside down in a headstand. It was my mother who instilled my love of yoga, and now that she is no longer living, I dedicated the paper to her.

The teacher training was an amazing experience. I met wonderful people I wouldn't have met otherwise (here is a photo of me with some of my classmates), including some that you will be seeing around the White Picket Fence Counseling Center in the coming weeks and months, as we create new programs to bring you the benefits of yoga.

Some people object to the idea of yoga because they feel it conflicts with their religious practice. Our approach will be completely non-religious, and while we believe that spirituality is a key part of the recovery journey, it will be up to you to decide how deep you want to go.

With our limited space, we're going to focus on one-on-one yoga therapy and small yoga groups – including some classes that will be free for the community. So please stay tuned!

For the rest of this month, I'll be presenting more information about how yoga and yoga therapy are uniquely suited to assist people recovering from eating disorders and food addiction.