August 6, 2010

Yoga: A Tool For Sufferers of Eating Disorders from One Who Knows.

Suffering from an eating disorder is stressful for the individual and for the close family and friends involved.

Eating disorders are often taken more lightly than they should be, and are brushed aside as a fad or an attention seeking issue that the sufferer will eventually grow out of. This may not be the case—and with the pressures on young children today within school, the media and sibling rivalry, boys and girls as young as eight years old can fall victim to such psychological distress.

I was a sufferer from anorexia. From a personal point of view, let me squash the fallacy that eating disorders are about food and anything that may hold calorific value. Food is what becomes the anchor to hold onto, it is something that is used to help control the sufferers everyday existence, until eventually, food becomes the obsession.

Whether the sufferer has anorexia or bulimia, the attachment to food is the same. Starvation or binging becomes the obsession which is brought on by mental anguish, lack of harmony and control within daily life.

Seeking Advice and Help.

There are various ways of dealing with eating disorders that are natural and drug free, including the following:

  • Finding someone to talk to that you can trust. From personal experience a professional therapist is important, as they are able to reflect back what they hear in an unbiased manner while offering support.
  • Allowing yourself space and time to connect with that which brings you joy. If these do not include social activities then activities such as reading ,walking in nature taking a hot bath all help to give immediate relief.

Yoga as a Major Part of Self—Healing and Help.

I came to yoga at the age of 17. I needed something to help me move through a period in my life which was causing me physical and mental trauma, and in doing so connected with the roots of the ancient practice through my ancestry.

My body was depleted and exhausted, my mind nervous and constantly fearful of all situations. I had little nutrition inside my 4.5 stone body to help balance and sustain me. I had lost all control of my life.

Yoga became my answer and support. With various pranayama techniques, meditations and relaxation skills I slowly and steadily found my way on the road to recovery. When used on a daily basis the practices below offer tools to help transform the mind and allow one to gain back their personal power.

Basic Breath Awareness.

Begin by breathing in and out naturally, bringing your attention to one area the breath is moving through, maybe your belly rising or the sensation of the breath moving in and out of the nostrils. In allowing yourself to become attuned to your breath you are giving yourself  permission to live, to relax, let go and allow yourself to be. The basis of any relaxation or meditation is to be able to acknowledge your breath.

Below is a Kundalini yoga set as taught by Yogi Bhajan. When practiced it can help open the pranic channels and balance the left and right sides of the body.This technique is extremely calming and will bring immediate relaxation to the body, mind and spirit.

Sit in easy pose (cross legged). Block the right nostril with the thumb and begin long slow deep breathing through the left nostril for 3 minutes. Inhale and hold the breath for 10 seconds. (If you suffer from any breathing or heart difficulties do not hold the breath).

Repeat the process on the left side using the left thumb to block the left nostril. Continue for 3 minutes inhale and hold for 10 seconds if appropriate.

Inhale through the left nostril then exhale through the right using long slow deep breathing.Use the thumb and little finger to close alternate nostrils. Continue for 3 minutes. Then reverse the alternate nostril breath for three minutes, inhaling through the right and exhaling through the left.
Sit in easy pose or a position that is comfortable for you and place the hands in Gyan mudra. Breathe long slow deep breathes and focus your attention at the brow point. Continue this for seven minutes, then inhale deeply and if possible hold the breath, suspending it and allowing yourself to feel the breath circulating round the whole body.

Exhale and relax allowing yourself to meditate for five minutes.

Beginners Exercise 1.

The main purpose of this practice is to release tension in the body and mind that has built up during the day. Each position stimulates the lungs and the navel centre. This is achieved by the effect of the breath as it opens the lungs and the diaphragm, helping to promote deep relaxation.

Sit in easy pose and bring the hands into prayer pose at the heart centre. Close the eyelids and focus on the brow point. As you focus create a positive flow of thought. Project being healthy and joyful and see yourself as you wish to be. Continue this for seven minutes.

Lie on your back pointing the toes forward and begin long slow deep breathing for five minutes. When completed, relax for two minutes.While resting on your back, inhale and hold for 15 seconds (if appropriate) then exhale. Repeat this breath pattern for 8 full breaths continuing for three repetitions of the sequence.

Relax for two minutes.
Lying on the back, point the toes forward. Lift both feet 6 inches off the ground as you inhale deeply. Hold the position for 15 seconds then lower the legs. Repeat 5 times.

Deeply relax the body limb by limb, organ by organ cell by cell for 10 minutes.

Heartbeat Meditation in the Triple Lock

When suffering from an eating disorder the nervous system becomes seriously depleted from lack of nutrition. This meditation will help to balance the brain and the nervous system. When practiced with a lengthened spine it will help to expand the self allowing you to view yourself more positively.

Sit in a comfortable seated position. If possible lotus pose or easy pose with the hands resting on the knees with the hands in Gyan mudra. Apply just enough pressure in the fingers so that you clearly feel your pulse in the tips of your thumbs. The essence of this meditation is to form the triple lock in a relaxed, stable and attentive attitude. The triple lock is:

1) Gyan mudra feeling your pulse.

2) front teeth lightly on top of each other, tip to tip, lower jaw moving forward slightly from its natural position.

3) tongue turned backward as much as possible to touch the upper palate.

Meditate at the brow point on a constant rhythm of the heart. Keep the spine completely straight. Continue for 11 minutes.

Indra Singhhas been studying yoga since the age of 17 and feels an extra connection with her father being Punjabi. She is a trained yoga teacher in Astanga Vinyasa yoga, has studied with Sonia Sumar in Brazil, integral yoga with Swami Satchidananda and Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan.She is a mother of two and aims to educate, especially children and those with special needs through the ancient practice of yoga, visit her webpage here and become a fan on facebook.

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