I'm in recovery from an eating disorder. And have been for a long time. Lots of people don't know, except when I do silly things like write an article to all the PSU fitness instructors, or post it in my blog's "about me" section, or even write a blog post about it. I don't like to talk about it because I don't want people to see me as "that girl with bulimia," or to be constantly concerned that I'm going to throw up the birthday cake they make me, or to analyze my every food choice and relate it back to my psychological state. It could be true that I'll be in a state of recovery forever; many people with an addiction say they'll never be completely free of their longing.
But I believe that I can completely heal. The reason I think I can heal is because I have yoga.
For years I've eaten carefully, but will then try to make up what I've deemed an over-indulgence with an extra hour of running or a day of diet soda and veggies. There is this lingering fear that, even on a non-binge, I may freak out about the number of calories consumed and want to purge, or, that I'll punish myself through another over-exhaustive workout. Living in a state of constant counting, calculating, and planning of food and exercise is exhausting. Literally.
Group, individual, and art therapy were all helpful in their own ways. But none of them gave me the peace of mind I've been able to find in yoga. Yoga has helped me connect to my body, and that connection is so important that I can't bear to go a day without it. The old me that started yoga did it for stress-relief as a college freshman, for exercise as a grad student, for self-betterment as a young adult, but finally I do yoga for me. And if I can't do asana practice on a certain day, I still set aside time to practice pranayama (breathing) and/or meditation.
The reason that I think I may be able to completely heal is because every day I do things I thought would never be possible for me. Last week, while on a yoga retreat/vacation in Bali, I only went running 3 times, each time less than an hour. True, I did other active things on vacation, and yes, I did asana practice each day, sometimes quite lengthy and intensive. But, for me, only about 2 hours of intense cardio in a week... that's crazy talk! I prefer to have 7-9 hours of intense cardio a week (which I am able to recognize as excessive).
The exercise is still a struggle. The eating is still a struggle. But the little improvements in the lovingkindness I show myself, the compassion I'm able to offer to myself and others, and the little achievements all add up. Every time I do something I once considered impossible, I feel the miracle in it.
I feel like my vacation behavior last week was a miracle. Usually, on vacation, with no time set aside for work, I would do more activity. But I didn't. And I only felt a tiny ache inside. I know people are supposed to have huge shifts during yoga retreats, and I thought my shift would be in my yoga. Turns out it was in my yoga, just not my asana practice.
I feel lucky at my miraculous experience. But, even more, I feel the hope and possibility of "complete" recovery. Of being fully present and mindful. Of union of my mind and body. Of yoga.