There were three of us in the room Monday night at the eating disorder recovery center. Two students, plus me. Something about all our energies combined made for a very sweet vibration in the room that night. The electronic candles were scattered around the makeshift altar and I had soothing spa-like music playing on my Beats Pill.
The woman with the flowing grey hair wore a shirt with a radish on it. We started off the class in lighthearted banter talking about “trigger clothing” and how her radish (or turnip depending on how you looked at it) shirt managed to escape the search when she was first admitted to the center a couple months ago.
It escapes me what theme I gravitated to for this particular practice because what stands out so much is what it felt like to be in that room with them, and what happened after our class…
I taught them but I received so much. It felt effortless to guide the two women through a series of seated poses, to all fours, back to a seat, and finally to a restorative pose where they were able to luxuriate for over 10 minutes.
I closed the practice by giving them some reiki and felt extremely moved by both women’s willingness to be so open and vulnerable with me.
After I called them back to their bodies, the space, the breath, and the two sat up, one woman turned to the other woman and said:
“I have to say that you just looked so beautiful in that twisted pose,” as she emulated the flowing grey haired woman’s posture and demeanor.
“You looked so confident and proud.”
“The next time I see you slouching around the house I’m going to remind you what you’re capable of,” she said with a laugh.
I refrained from any kind of commentary on this exchange I was fortunate to witness and just allowed it to happen, amazed for one by my student’s ability to see another woman with such high regard. To lift her up instead of compare.
The confident and proud woman RECEIVED the compliment with such grace and humility. She then in turn said how she’s going to sign up for yoga when she returns home. How it has changed her. How she now finds a new engagement and fascination with her own body and how it moves and works in a multitude of ways.
“Like if I move my right hip a little wider I feel stronger and then my shoulders can broaden,” she explained.
Oh my goddess I was in heaven just listening to this. I didn’t need to direct them. I didn’t need to insert my own feelings on the subject. These two women had learned so much, had grown leaps and bounds. I just watched them taking what they were learning and letting it rip!
Now I just have to keep believing that yoga has an incredible ability to support women in their path to recovery from eating disorders.
I’ve said this so many times before in earlier blog posts but … Yoga Healed Me.
Just a few weeks ago I found myself talking to a friend who is 4 years sober and found sobriety and recovery through the amount of time he spends outdoors: hiking, climbing, camping, you name it. I found myself thinking about how we all have such individual healing and recovery paths.
In those early years of recovery when I was at my worst I never went to treatment, barely spoke to a therapist (I can count – it was 3 sessions), and didn’t even tell a medical doctor about my bulimia until years after the worst was over.
This isn’t to say these are not viable, successful options for recovery. It is my belief that they are.
For me though my path was, and still is, yoga. (It should be noted that in the 10 or so years since the worst of my eating disorder I have integrated therapy and life coaching among other healing modalities onto my path and I include this information in every health history I complete).
First yoga was about understanding my body better. Much like my dear student who found fascination with the movement of her hips, I started to love the way my body moved. I loved my thighs for how strong they were.
These days it keeps hitting me that my yoga practice has illuminated a path toward a deeper understanding of this:
I am not just my body or my cellulite or my round tummy. Nor am I just how well my clothes fit. I am not just my migraines. I am not just my relationship to food. I am not just my eating disorder. And, as much as my ego hates to admit it, I am not just my personality. My Maggie-ness, my ME-ness transcends AND encompasses all of that. My ME-ness is part of a universal energy that is so much larger and more powerful than a wrinkle on my forehead.
There is still an infinite amount of understanding and learning and knowing I have left to do. And because this is something that feels very big and infinite and scary and exciting, I’m going to pause. Let this marinade and … To be continued…