Yoga: Mending the Mind-Body Connection

Yoga and the body-mind connection

When I first started practicing yoga I did it for the workout. Naturally, I started with power yoga. I got a book and would spend hours trying to learn the two-hour long flow that was detailed in the pages. I had an out-of-control, very unhealthy addiction to exercise as well as an eating disorder, so it didn’t take long for my practice to slip from just a workout to a way of whittling myself away into the shadows. Between yoga, running, cycling, kayaking and weight training, I’d spend up to 8 hours a day working out and no days off. I had no mind-body connection to speak of and fitting in workouts between college classes, chores (I lived on a farm), and work was all I could think about.

Inevitably that schedule could not last. I eventually needed treatment for my illness or I would not be seeing much of my thirties. I still abused yoga though. All through treatment and especially at my very worst. Part of my story includes a very sexually abusive relationship that I had escaped and then found I was pregnant from it. All through the pregnancy my body continued to deteriorate. The ligaments in my hips tore but I would still go for an 8 mile walk every morning before going to treatment, and I practiced my power yoga EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Right up until the day before my C-section. I USED yoga to tear myself apart. But my self-destructive plan backfired.

I had reached a point of disgust with my appearance that I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror anymore, or at my reflection in the shop windows along the street. So I went through a few months of having absolutely no reference for how I looked, what I looked like, what my body was visually. Every day I kept practicing my yoga and through this period something so powerful happened that I was not expecting and was honestly a little pissed about.

I lost my image of what my body looked like in my mind, and in its place something different began to take hold. I was experiencing myself from my core for the very first time. It was like something so real I could touch it but it was inside of me. As I flowed through the asanas every day I could feel my muscles slowly but steadily becoming stronger, more flexible, more coordinated and graceful with the poses, even though in my disordered mind my body was a horrid wasteland that was getting bigger and weaker each day. The reality was not that and I could now feel and experience the physical reality that *I* was becoming stronger, as in I was starting to come into alignment with my Self.

That shift, at the time, was not exactly welcome in my body-dysmorphic, anorexic mind, but I also couldn’t deny it. I hated to admit it but I was excited about it! I couldn’t wait to grow it more and more! It is an incredibly grounding feeling to so quickly go from so much self-loathing to being able to come home to your body and feel your realness. I had no words.

In my recovered life, I’ve become a yoga instructor, and during my teacher training, my instructor would say “Yoga does what yoga does.” This is the more true phrase I can possibly think of for the incredible healing potential of yoga on our bodies, minds, and spirits. I am so honored to be one of the humans who gets to share this beautiful practice with the world today.


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