Ahimsa, Mindfulness, Yoga, and ED

I can’t remember a time where I enjoyed something, in the past few years. It was the same perfunctory routine, wake up, run, class, gym, home, maybe run again, throw up if I had eaten anything. I prided myself on going a thousand miles an hour. I ran longer, quicker, more frequently. Went to school, work, home, etc. Never sitting still, never wanting to be with myself long enough to feel or acknowledge myself.

There was a time, a long time ago, I had fun. I enjoyed doing things. I would go out to eat with friends, go shopping, soccer, etc. As the years in my eating disorder progressed, the things I once used to enjoy began to diminish. I enjoyed running, but it had also become something that I NEEDED to do in order to feel any bit of accomplishment- it was no longer just for enjoyment. Then I was introduced to yoga.

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There have been several people in my life recently who have asked how and why I got involved in yoga. What am I supposed to say? “Oh, when I went to residential treatment for my eating disorder they took running and exercise away, but I got to do yoga twice a week….” For some reason, I just don’t think this is the answer they would be expecting.

I soon found my passion and love for yoga. Breathing, being still, sitting with myself (something I never would have done months ago). When I left treatment I found a yoga studio close to where I live. I hesitantly walked in. Almost a month later, I am still going, I love it and learn more and more everyday.

Being the youngest in the class, I am in such awe of the women in the class. They may be older, but I have such respect and admiration for them, the way they move, how they embrace their self and how they even push themselves while in different poses. I admire them so much and even hope I can strive to be like that in 30 or 40 years.

The body dissatisfaction I still have is ridiculous. Feeling like the fattest one there, trying to hide my body in large t-shirts, sometimes even hoodies. I sit on my mat, completely aware of my lumpy, rolley stomach. Going into Adho Mukha Svanasana (or downward dog), obvious to the fact that my thighs are touching. Bringing my hands to Anjali Mudra I am coached to set an intention for the class.

This concept was entirely new to me. I had brought my hands to heart, and bowed to my instructor, in residential, K numerous times, but an intention? The first couple of classes I went to my brain froze. Setting no intention for the class. Sometimes briefly I would decide last minute to focus on doing “yoga on my own mat” as to focus on myself and not compare myself with others. Eventually, my intention became to be more comfortable in my own skin in class. I began to wear a tank top and leggings, being so self conscious about my arms and body. My intention was to try and be comfortable, not be so self conscious, self critical.

Ahimsa is one of the lessons in the study of yoga, meaning non harming. When I read about this I immediately thought of the literal term of being non-violent. Is there more I thought? To not cause harm, I would be included in that statement, self harm, is still harm, and does not follow the idea of non-harming. It teaches us to not act, think, or speak in harmful ways. This would also include samskaras, or negative feeling and thought processes that can also be very harmful to ourselves. Which also ties into the cocept of Niyamas, or our attitude towards ourself.

While I am still extremely far from reaching self love or even acceptance, I have found something that I enjoy doing again. It doesn’t involve running my body into the ground when I haven’t eaten in a week. It doesn’t involve isolating myself.

ED is still with me on the mat, but even if it is only briefly, it is amazing to sit quietly with myself and be ok with it. To have him be silent.

I am able to challenge myself on the mat, in ways that aren’t self destructive or harmful. I have a growing respect for my body, the strength is possesses, the asanas it is able to hold, and the inversions my body can contort to. Yoga isn’t about how fast, how far, how much, but while you are all in a room together, it is what you, as an individual, can accomplish on your mat within yourself.

Iokah samatah sukhino bhavantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

Namaste & Trust the Process

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2 thoughts on “Ahimsa, Mindfulness, Yoga, and ED

  1. I relate so much to this post. Suffered from anorexia and bulimia for ten years and the negative self talk is always still there under the surface. Thanks for writing about your experience with this.

    1. Absolutely! Thank you for taking the time to read it. I feel like some of the stuff I post is probably way to much information, but hey, if people can benefit from it why not. I hope you are doing awesome in your continuous recovery and remember to trust the process and always do the next right thing 🙂

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