by Jill Almond
It took a decade but at the age of 22 I can say that I am truly recovering from anorexia. 10 years of missed memories and opportunities and leaving my family distraught and frustrated. 10 years that left me completely miserable but also with insight into life and who I am as a person that some people do not get to experience in a lifetime. Anorexia is a truly awful disorder that I would not wish upon anyone, yet I thank it because it led me to my mat.
My parents tried every approach/recommendation given to them but it wasn’t until almost a year ago today that it all eventually clicked. I had developed a toxic relationship with running and had been told that it would likely lead to my death, yet I couldn’t stop. But I did, and I remember the day clearly. I had showed up to a therapy appointment the second week of July 2016 and completely broke down. I said I couldn’t do it anymore and I hated it but was terrified to stop. My therapist, the most fabulous, genuine, kind-hearted person I have ever met, said we could do it one day at a time. That was a Monday. I showed up that Wednesday completely distraught and anxious but also three days free of running. That day yoga was suggested for me. Now, I had done yoga on and off since I was a freshman in high school and did enjoy it but didn’t think it was “enough”. I was so disconnected and out of tune with my body I didn’t grasp the true meaning of the practice, the breath or pranayama. But I agreed to get back on the mat. After that I went to class about 5 times a week and sometime during that summer spent on my mat a shift occurred. Everything the teachers had been talking about flipped on a light switch and I began to appreciate my body. I finally began to feel in touch with it and suddenly was able to see it as so much more than a physical thing. It was this vessel that performed so many amazing and complex actions every given moment. A body that refused to quit on me like everyone said it would that I now never take for granted.
That summer spent on Long Island laid the foundation for my recovery, and I continued to build off of it when I moved to St. Petersburg, Florida to finish out my last year of college. Each time I have stepped on my mat in both places regardless of how I am feeling that day, a teacher has always managed to say at least one little thing that brings me back to that grounded state, that humbling sense that you are so much more than this physical being. I do not know what exactly the reasoning behind this is but I firmly believe that yoga turned my life around completely. I have only begun my journey with yoga but I hope to deepen my practice and bring this insight to others suffering.
The nonjudgmental and truly grateful setting that is present each time you go to practice is something that is quite difficult to articulate into words. Whether there is any truth behind yoga as a treatment for eating disorders I will leave up to the researchers. However, from personal experience I can say that something changed me for the better when I stepped onto that mat and I only hope that others have the same experience. Namaste.