Yoga in Eating Disorder Recovery

woman is doing yoga

Important caveat: yoga on its own is not an evidenced based treatment for eating disorders. There may be times in recovery when the most healing thing to do is to rest, so always check with the professionals involved in your care to see if yoga is safe to participate in.

 

When recovering from an eating disorder, there are various coping mechanisms and adjuncts to therapy that you can take to support your healing. While seeking guidance from healthcare professionals is paramount, incorporating practices like yoga can complement the recovery process. In this blog, we’ll explore how yoga, with its emphasis on embodiment and mindfulness, can be a valuable tool in eating disorder recovery.

 

Firstly, let’s delve into what yoga truly is. Contrary to popular belief, yoga isn’t solely about perfecting poses or achieving physical fitness goals. At its core, yoga is about connecting with oneself, cultivating mindfulness, and embracing the present moment. It’s a practice that encourages us to tune into our bodies, acknowledging sensations, thoughts, and emotions without judgment. Understanding this essence of yoga is crucial for its application in eating disorder recovery.

 

Research suggests that incorporating yoga and embodied movement practices into treatment can have benefits for individuals navigating eating disorder recovery. These practices promote body awareness, helping individuals reconnect with and honour their bodies in a compassionate way. By fostering a deeper sense of embodiment, yoga can aid in restoring a positive body image and rebuilding a healthy relationship with food.

 

Numerous studies have highlighted the therapeutic effects of yoga on mental health, particularly in reducing anxiety, depression, and stress—all of which often coexist with eating disorders. Some individuals may experience increased emotional regulation and a greater sense of self-acceptance, vital aspects of the recovery journey.

 

So, how can one incorporate yoga into their eating disorder recovery process? Firstly, it’s crucial to consult with your eating disorder dietitian or healthcare professional to ensure that yoga aligns with individual needs and capabilities. Remember, there may be times in recovery when rest takes precedence over physical activity, and it’s essential to honour those moments.

 

When integrating yoga into recovery, it’s beneficial to focus on gentle, restorative practices rather than intense workouts. Restorative yoga, yin yoga, or gentle Hatha yoga can provide a nurturing space for individuals to reconnect with their bodies in a supportive environment. I like Yoga with Kassandra’s yin practices on youtube, there are a number of yoga teachers with free online at-home practices you can find on youtube. Practicing mindfulness alongside yoga can further enhance its therapeutic benefits, fostering a deeper understanding of one’s thoughts and feelings around food and body image.

 

In conclusion, while yoga isn’t a substitute for professional treatment, it can be a valuable adjunctive therapy in eating disorder recovery. By embracing the principles of embodiment and mindfulness inherent in yoga, individuals can cultivate a compassionate relationship with their bodies and support their journey towards healing. Remember, your recovery is unique to you, so always seek guidance from trusted professionals and listen to your body’s needs along the way.

 

If you feel your treatment team is lacking a dietitian then I would love to help. I am a specialist dietitian and would love to support you in your journey. Reach out to me here so we can explore this further.

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