How Yoga Can Benefit Patients with Eating Disorders
The benefits of yoga have become widely known and recognized. Many studies are conducted to prove these claims in the past years (Woodyard, 2011). With the thousand years of existence, the practice of yoga aims to improve life in general. In this world, a lot of things can affect one’s health and perspective. Eating disorders while there is no exact cause, can be triggered by events, experiences, and the chemicals in the body.
How Yoga Can Benefit Patients with Eating Disorders:
Yoga provides a change of perspective
Eating disorders often affect how one can perceive his/her body image. Many eating disorder patients become obsessed with their bodies, how they look, and overall image. This can cause insecurity and self-loathing. Yoga teaches people non-judgment. This removes any doubt and allows us to appreciate the things around us, especially ourselves. It develops love towards others and yourself. With the change of perspective, it is easier for people who have or people who are currently recovering to accept their own body and self.
Yoga reduces the stress that may trigger eating disorder episodes
It is a vicious cycle – a patient may start eating excessively because of stress, or they may become stressed after eating excessively. This may be an impulsive response to stress or social stressors such as guilt, shame, or pressure. When this happens, the stress hormone called cortisol is produced in the body. Thankfully, yoga is an effective way to reduce and lower the levels of cortisol in the bloodstream. Aside from that, it promotes other chemicals and hormones that lift and boosts mood. It is useful for those recovering from eating disorders and those who are still experiencing it by activating the parasympathetic nervous system or the rest and digest function.
Yoga improves body functions
For patients with eating disorders, it is very easy to neglect what their body really needs. Extreme loss of weight can greatly affect the heart muscles that also result in low blood pressure. Anemia can also lower the body’s immune system. Other organ systems such as the digestive system and endocrine system are affected by eating disorders.
Different yoga poses target different parts of the body. First off, it improves blood circulation that allows oxygen to flow to the different vital organs in the body. It detoxifies the liver and promotes kidney functions. Aside from that, it helps with digestion. The list of benefits on each body organ is quite long and with regular practice, it can still improve the organ systems affected by eating disorders.
Yoga poses for people with eating disorders
Sirsasana (Headstand Pose) – this inverted pose allows the reversal of the blood circulation which is good for digestion. It also relieves constipation.
Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose) – while this pose opens the heart and improves chest strength, it allows the body to digest food properly and use the energy it produces. It also boosts appetite and helps eating disorder recovery.
Apanasana (Knees to Chest Pose) – This pose improves digestion and provides a remedy for stomach cramps and bloating.
Yoga may be the best gift we received in the past 5,000 years. It is a powerful tool that helps people struggling and recovering from eating disorders. The self-awareness discipline in yoga helps acceptance and understanding of the body. And through psychological meditation, a decrease of symptoms, and a total change in perspective, eating disorders can become easier to fight.
Woodyard C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. International journal of yoga, 4(2), 49–54. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.85485