Start With Your Body
If you starve your body long and hard enough, you will lose more than just fat. Your body starts eating away at your muscles, and your undernourished bones lose their density. The women in my family are blessed with strong bones, but as I get older I will have to worry about developing osteoporosis. Eating disorders take years off your life.
When I started very slowly to come back to yoga, I could feel the damage I’d done. I was weak and stiff. When I looked in the mirror I could see my skin was drying up and aging prematurely.
It was a very slow start. Yet the more yoga I did, the more I wanted to do. This is the great shift of focus, from what your body weighs to what it can do. Gradually I started to see food as fuel, instead of forbidden.
Every time I do a challenging pose for the first time, I get up and dance around the room. It’s a thrill so much greater than I felt watching the numbers go down on the scale. I feel alive, powerful, and full of possibility.
I realize I am naturally a thinner woman than average, and that because of this people make a lot of assumptions about me, When I post a photo of myself in a new asana on facebook or twitter, many may believe I am showing off my body out of vanity. Well, I am showing off my body! I am showing off what my body can do. I am celebrating how far I have come, how far I exceeded my own expectations. I feel strong and young and healthy now, because every time I get on the mat I’m putting those stolen years back on my life.
If you are anything like I was, you probably can’t imagine a reality that doesn’t include your eating disorder. You are terrified to let go of what you believe to be your most powerful way of controlling your life. Don’t worry about that for now, you don’t have to make any decisions about your eating disorder to start yoga. Get on the mat, start slowly and with great patience, and accept where you are today. Start with your body, using the gift of asanas to release your tension and build back your strength. Start with your breath, notice how it feels to breathe really, really deeply, and then let it go with a big sigh. Start with your body, and with time, your heart and mind will follow.