“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Recovery from an eating disorder or an addiction to an unhealthy lifestyle can be difficult and challenging. Finding your place, returning to yourself and living in acceptance, compassion and gratitude can sound overwhelming. Yet not only is such a path possible ~ it can be discovered on a yoga mat.
Healing asks for a daily commitment ~ sometimes an hourly, even a moment to moment commitment ~ to a way of being, of abiding with oneself and life as it is. The ancient medicine of yoga offers itself as such a practice. The effectiveness of yoga is its simplicity ~ developing balance, calm and wholeness. Rather than being overcome by anxiety, yoga instills an ability to listen to the body and to focus on ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’.
In fact, yoga isn’t only about establishing certain poses ~ it’s more about finding balance and being present. Often, there is little movement at all, only the breath. One of the most relaxing poses is simply lying on a mat on the back and bringing one hand to the heart area of the body and the other hand to the abdomen. In this pose, noticing the breath and how it moves the abdomen up and down, over and over, is the awareness. For just this time, each person has an opportunity to be who they are and feel what they feel. A sense of freedom and expansion is often experienced.
The practice of yoga is all about the process, the journey. Over time, many young women and men learn things they may have never thought possible: to be comfortable inside their own bodies, more accepting of challenges and less fearful of the unknown. Trusting emergence as well as the impermanence of thoughts and feelings is often an outcome of practice. Mindfulness ~ moment to moment awareness of the present moment, non-judgmentally ~ is the gift as well as the guide toward a life of healing and wellness.
Continuing with yoga also offers individuals connection to a community of people who may be involved with or teach other spiritual practices such as meditation, centering prayer, nature walking and much more. The world is rich and beautiful and offers itself in abundant ways. Stepping onto a yoga mat could be the beginning of a deep and abiding way of living…and being.