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How Can Yoga Help People with Eating Disorders?

March 19, 2018

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The contemporary lifestyle is strained by a number of fleeting ailments – some accidental, some habitual, and others quite fatal. In this array of disorders, eating-related disorders are quite common.

A person suffering from an eating disorder can be identified as an anorexic, or bulimic, or as a Binge Eater. Of course, these have a common denominator, the root factor in question – the DIET. People who practice mindfulness, yoga and cook food themselves are less at risk for developing eating disorders. But more on the restorative powers of yoga practice later. For now, let’s see how an eating disorder manifests itself. 

The Most Common Eating Disorders and Their Dangers

When a regular diet falls into an irregular pattern, any of these conditions can surface depending upon the factors involved. A person suffering from anorexia shows persistent aversion towards food, causing significant weight loss that eventually leads to a persisting malnutrition.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a victim of bulimia faces periods of binge eating, which is averted afterwards through triggered vomiting, or excessive exercise. The person suffering from bulimia is taking all of these extreme measures in order to force the consumed food out of their system.

eating disorder concept photo

Photo credit: NsightRecovery.com

While a binge eater displays signs of over eating without giving the process of the body’s true organic needs much thought, the results become quite harmful to the sufferer’s health. Issues like excessive weight gain and obesity attack the victim’s body, making future efforts of coming back to a regular diet much harder. 

There is also emotional eating, also known as comfort eating, when people tend to resort to food as a means of rewarding themselves, or of compensating for a period of distress. Even if these episodes aren’t always excessive, the impulse to binge eat should not be taken lightly. Food is meant to be a nourishment for the body, according to its needs, and not a way of making yourself emotionally numb through times of turmoil.

comfort emotional eating binge disorder

The majority of people dismiss the onset of these eating disorders as temporary spells of emotional eating introduced by a previous trauma or an upsetting episode. However, as the habit turns into a pattern, it does not take long for it to turn into a permanent ailment. In time, this can even be fatal if the eating disorder is not diagnosed and treated in time.

How to Know If You Are at Risk

Many patients suffering from eating disorders don’t really fall into one of these categories or another. Some simply switch between elements from various disorders, having, at most, periods of time when one is more predominant.

So, while you are right to abhor labeling any diet disorder you may suspect you are suffering from, know this: it doesn’t really matter what you call it, or even if it’s not serious yet; what matters is that a lack of balance in your diet and an unhealthy relationship to food can be a slippery slope for an entire host of other problems.

It’s best if you proactively seek to develop a healthy eating style, regardless of whether you have reason to believe yourself to be prone to disorders. Your mind and body will thank you for it, and you will also keep disorders at bay for the rest of your life, as long as you remain connected and mindful.

Studies suggest that practicing yoga and meditation, in addition with basic medical treatment, are the best natural remedies that can really help people suffering from eating disorders find their way back to a pattern of healthy and balanced food habits.

woman suffering from anorexia nervosa

Yoga as the Science of Reconnection and Recovery     

Yoga is not just a series of exercises; it is an authentic therapy meant to re-connect the body with the mind and its spirit. The common cause of any eating disorder is a misconstrued or lost connection of the victim’s physical form with their mental and spiritual bodies.

Reinstating this connection is imperative for the mental and physical recovery, and it will also prepare the body, helping it respond well to future efforts of cultivating healthy eating habits. Mindfulness, an essential component of an invigorating yoga therapy, is also the key element to this scenario.

If you’d like to develop a better relationship to food and nourishment, you can even consider combining yoga with cooking. A few days stay at such a retreat can do wonders on your perceptions and habits.

Still, the practice of yoga is beneficial in eating disorders regardless of the exact type of yoga you choose. With a regular practice of yoga and meditation, the practitioner paves a way towards mindfulness, leading to a heightened association with his or her true ‘self’. This heightened association with the ‘self’ is crucial to understanding the demands of the body and nourishing it accordingly.

woman looking into camera with confidence

A self-aware yogi establishes an innate bond between his body, mind, and spirit that helps him or her build focus, confidence, and optimism towards life. This often comes with a newly-found deep concern towards their body’s welfare.

Yoga can help anyone get rid of mental and physical pain, before these can attack the brain, producing toxic thoughts towards food and the body. It also keeps the victim from suffering spells of agitation, mood swings or pessimism, which can so often lead back to the eating disorder pattern. You can even find specialized yoga detox retreats that specifically address these concerns with maintaining optimal body-care balance.

Yoga helps you strengthen your ability to find comfort even in the most discomforting situation. It lets you dismiss the urge to indulge in emotional eating during hard times and invites the strength to go along the path of health and wellness mindfully.

If you cultivate the regular practice of yoga, you can get rid of the vicious cycles that can lead you into eating disorders. Let yoga be your guide to a healthy and well-nourished life, and the benefits you will enjoy will be greater than simply keeping eating disorders at bay!


Are you ready to take a firm step towards improving your mindfulness? Then book a yoga and meditation retreat in a destination of your choice and an experienced practitioner will guide you to start your journey.

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