I often am asked by yoga teachers and therapists to explain which specific poses people with disordered eating should do. I usually side step this question as the point of doing mind body work for those with disordered eating or eating disorders is not that a specific pose will make you love your body, or if you just did more balancing poses you would feel more balanced and therefore be able to stick to a meal plan providing you with enough nutrition.
On the contrary, the mind body connection one gets from yoga for some can take more than a few classes to catch on or for some can start from the first pose (or asana in sanskrit). The point is the approach to yoga as a mind body practice that can help those with disordered eating and eating disorders cultivate a tolerance for the body and an ear for what the body needs.
So, you say, that’s fantastic, but aren’t there some poses that would resonate more with people with disordered eating? Of course. Here’s a brief run down of poses and series that can be used in healing eating issues. If you want to know more, check out our soon to be released manual, with information on eating disorders, body dysmorphia, yoga concepts, and suggested themes for class, with sample meditations.
Poses that activate the throat chakra, such as plow pose and reverse plank pose: by bringing energy into the throat, with the understanding that it can open up communication with the self, in terms of how you speak to your body and learning to speak to your body with compassion.
Poses and series that focus on surrender, such as child’s pose and reclined bound angle pose: by creating space to open up some area, like the heart in child’s pose or the hips in bound angle pose, you can allow yourself to experience your body as whole and weighty and with guidance from the yoga teacher, get into the root of any body dysmorphia in terms of size of the body or size of a particular body part such as the hips.
Poses that activate or open the third eye chakra, such as child’s pose or fish pose: by activating the third eye, with information about yoga’s view on information – direct experience versus information from others – a sense of trust of the self can be created. That trust can then be fostered into being in other areas of your life. A simple example would be allowing yourself to be the body shape that is healthy for you, rather than listening to information from others, such as magazines or television, about what body shape you should have.
The possibilities of poses and series and approaches to yoga for eating disorders and disordered eating are never ending. Which, if you think about it, is brilliant as healing from an eating disorder requires as many approaches and tools and methods as possible, as the disease is cunning and powerful.