Binge Eating Disorder Recovery and Practicing Yoga At Home
Around this time last year, I decided to cancel my gym membership and practice yoga at home to support my binge eating disorder (BED) recovery. I wanted to try a new way of exercising that would help me lean into my recovery. I'd been experiencing a deep shift of motivation in my recovery, and I was encouraged by my counselor and my partner to try something new. I had a feeling I'd outgrown my gym routine, and I wanted to experience a new way to interact with my body.
Since I was little, my Dad would take my little brother and me to the gym as much as possible. My Dad would lift weights while we would use weight machines, the pool, or the treadmills. Dumbells and weighted pulleys felt familiar in my hands. Even now, I sometimes tag along with my partner to the gym because I still love to work out with weights. So why would I cancel my gym membership if it's something I've always loved?
Why I Switched to At-Home Yoga to Support BED Recovery
Even though the gym has been something positive in my life, I realized that a shift had occurred. I had reached a stage in my recovery where I was more motivated to get back to a healthy, comfortable relationship with food. This felt more important to me than continuing to maintain a strict daily gym routine and cautious diet to match. I was ready to take a big uncomfortable leap and live and exercise in a way I hadn't before.
I had taken a few yoga classes in the past and enjoyed them, but I never stuck with regular practice. I even took yoga classes while at an eating disorder treatment center, and I remember how much I loved the hour of stretching and experiencing my body up close.
I was officially drawn back into yoga after I followed a 30-day yoga journey with the YouTube yoga guru, Yoga with Adriene. I used a ratty beach towel as a yoga mat and kept showing up for yoga practice after the 30-day yoga journey was over. Now, I've experienced a year of yoga practice, and I believe it has helped me stay recovered from BED.
How Yoga Helps Me Stay Recovered From an Eating Disorder
As I've said, I still love going to the gym occasionally to supplement my yoga routine. But since I've made yoga my primary exercise ritual, I move my body with a different philosophy that supports my recovery instead of causing me to be critical about my body and how it looks or performs.
Here are some specific ways yoga has helped me as I've recovered from binge eating disorder:
- There are other ways to measure progress -- The first beautiful experience I had during a yoga practice was when I was stretching to reach my toes while sitting on my mat. I could reach noticeably further, so I could touch the tops of my feet. So much of yoga is about enjoying the sensations of stretching and caring for your body. I get excited about the strength and flexibility I build over time instead of focusing on appearance-based goals having to do with weight and shape. It's easier for me to do this at home instead of being surrounded by other people at the gym.
- Be where you are right now -- It can be difficult to show up for a workout after a binge. Practicing yoga at home has given me the privacy to work through where I am in my recovery on any given day. There are some days I feel uncomfortable and disconnected from my body. After overeating or binge eating the day before, I feel large and unmotivated to move my body. I wear ultra-loose clothes and try to show up to practice yoga and work through my discomfort.
- Your body can be a home -- When you practice yoga, you are "shining a light in the dark places." The twists and poses you enter give you a new perspective of your body, literally. There are times when I am shaking in a pose, watching my muscles twitch and my belly expand to breathe. I've been able to work through the discomfort I've had about witnessing my body as it is instead of how I wish it appeared. My body as a whole has become a familiar sight as I move through new and familiar poses. Instead of a place of discomfort, yoga helps me experience my body as a familiar home.
Practicing yoga at home has helped me recover from BED and eating disorders in general. (And it has saved me money, too.) I still love the gym, but I feel my best when I am not comparing my body to the bodies I see around me. I believe the yoga philosophy is also specifically helpful to eating disorder recovery because it emphasizes the internal experience of practicing instead of the result or outside appearance.
Let me know if you have tried yoga at home before and what your experience was like. If you haven't tried a free online yoga class before and are curious, I encourage you to search for beginner yoga classes and try a class. As always, be gentle and kind to yourself in this recovery process.
Parten, E. (2022, May 16). Binge Eating Disorder Recovery and Practicing Yoga At Home, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, September 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/bingeeatingrecovery/2022/5/binge-eating-disorder-recovery-and-practicing-yoga-at-home