“Your body is in love with you.”
Not exactly what I expected to hear my teacher say during a power flow yoga class. You see, up until a little over a year ago, I swore I would never do “normal” yoga. “Normal” meant anything other than Bikram yoga, a style of yoga that is practiced in 110 degree heat and is a series of 26 different postures, each performed twice. In my head, any other yoga was a studio filled with skinny, pretty girls in matching Lululemon clothes, who drank green juice from Whole Foods instead of eating.
Fast forward to now. I no longer do Bikram yoga. Somewhere between injuring my back pretty badly, constantly being dehydrated and drained from this practice, and laying on my mat in class dreaming of Gatorade; I realized I HATED Bikram yoga. To be fair, I do think Bikram is a great practice, but not for just anyone. Especially someone suffering from an eating disorder where a large part of the battle is about over exercise.
Being the compulsive exerciser that I am, I had to find something else. Running was out- after 2 knee surgeries, surgery for acute compartment syndrome in my leg,, and an ankle reconstruction, my disordered brain knew that running wasn’t the best choice. What if I crippled myself and couldn’t exercise…oh my God, I would become a fat old woman. Randomly, I discovered a yoga studio a few miles from my house with a “30 days for $30” deal, and off I went.
I firmly believe God has such better plans for us than we have for ourselves. This new yoga practice shattered my narrow-minded ideas of what yoga was.. I was floored. I walked into Epic Yoga last November, somewhat convinced yoga would actually be good for me, but mostly looking for a way to burn calories and make myself feel better about eating. Not for one second did I imagine the healing, peace, and joy it would bring me.
My body is in love with me. Despite the years of abuse and overuse inflicted upon it, my body still loves me. Despite my deep hatred for every inch of myself and what extremes I went to in order to change, my body still loves me. “Your body is in love with you,” my teacher said, “think about it. Your lungs still breathe when you’re upside down. When you get tired, your heart beats faster to pump more blood and give you more oxygen”. This is extremely humbling to someone who has spent a good chunk of their life ruining themselves.
Yes, when I practice yoga, my eating disorder still gets satisfaction that I’m burning calories, etc. But with yoga, I have slowly been able to drop some of the most difficult lies my eating disorder has told me. I believe that strong is better than sick. I have to be nourished in order to maintain my practice. I suffer from hypoglycemia as a result to long term restriction, and it only took me one time of nearly passing out in the beginning of class, and needing the teacher to open a protein bar for me because my hands were too shaky. As I sat there on the floor trying to clear the black from my vision and eating the bar, I knew what my body was trying to tell me. Healthy is better than hungry. It takes far more strength for me to eat a difficult meal than it does to restrict. When I choose to use behaviors, I am choosing what is easy. In recovery, what is easy is not usually right. Yoga is teaching me to drop what I know, including expectations of myself. There is beauty in letting go. It creates more space for things I love. It makes me give myself grace. It helps me discover more of who I am. My body is in love with me, and that includes my brain. Yoga has helped me stop looking at my body as the enemy; as something that must be manipulated and controlled so that I feel a false sense of safety. I am learning to breathe, and without breath, there is too much room for the negative chatter of my eating disorder. After all, listening to it has never brought me any real happiness or results. Yoga is teaching me equanimity- the art of meeting life as it meets me. Particularly in recovery.
Take care of your body. It is the only place you have to live. It is the home of your soul. It is a vessel of life; a life that is meant to be truly lived, and shared with others. Your body is in love with you. Every heartbeat, every breath, every cut that heals, every emotion that your brain feels. Your body is constantly working to keep you alive and healthy- give it some help.