Gloria Steinem reminded us: “If God is in the details, then the goddesses are in the connections!”
It is a new year and so many are seeking that motivation to be healthier, fitter, thinner, stronger, more….what are you working on?
Getting back to a more regular yoga and meditation practice?
Getting back to the gym, or studio, on your bike?
Seeking to choose mindfully how to care for your precious body?
Nourishing your heart, mind and spirit in ways that are both a comfort and help to combat the stressors of everyday life? But not too much?
Looking forward to an upcoming retreat, or weekend of meditation and yoga bliss?
Laying in bed all day on the weekend, just because you can, want to and need to?
Catching up with a friend, or hanging out with someone you adore who lifts your mood with that way of connecting?
Getting lost in a great book, or endless hours of mindless binge watching on Netflix?
Challenging yourself to push that growing edge in a direction that both scares you and compels you?
If you are reading this on the amazing oneOeight.com healing platform, you likely have some inkling of the body acceptance mindset. Or strive to heal and grow from the inside out, rather than measure your progress from the outside in. It is the inner growth and healing that takes root and blossoms into form that continues to extend. External beauty glows from deep within.
Yet, as much as we know this is the true path to meaningful change and growth, it is so very hard to resist the reminders that bombard us that convey powerful shaming ideals of beautiful svelte sculpted bodies in perfect attire. Or really, should take the plunge and join one of those many “diets” that the advertisements and commercials make so appealing? Please, press pause.
Take a deep breath and another.
Pause and reflect on what your true self-most needs to quiet the storm inside?
Is it really a dramatic, restrictive way of life? Surely not.
You are most definitely where you need to be. Even if it is on the cusp of change.
Take the leap. But have your eyes open to have a safe landing.
My recent pet peeve has been the number of students in yoga teacher trainings sharing with me how they have been advised to practice a vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, caffeine-free, sugar-free meal plan, or some variation of these. PLEASE, yogis, and especially yoga teachers, refrain from offering dietary advice and recommendations to your students. PLEASE, refrain from using the platform of yoga to sing the praises of your yoga practice to make up for perceived “overindulgence” eating or drinking, from the last holiday, birthday, or special event. PLEASE, consider that your students are in a state of yoga-induced bliss and are quite vulnerable to influence. Your insights and truth may accidentally harm your beloved student, friend, sister, brother, or child.
We have enormous power to influence, and inadvertently assert power over others in the name of yoga, or health. What if we step back and really practice ahimsa? Do no harm includes the unintended harm of triggering someone suffering from body image distress or suffers in secret and isolation from an eating disorder, who hears the “well-meant” advice as a mandate to be approved by their teacher. Or even required to complete the Yoga Teacher Training?
For people in recovery from an eating disorder, any dedicated dietary restriction is a well-recognized hi risk trigger for relapse. Remember, eating disorders – anorexia, in particular, have the single highest mortality rate of any psychological condition.
The toll on all systems of the body can be devastating and life threatening. Oftentimes, the onset is a “diet” that sets off a deadly disease that can ravage the body. Our brains and hearts are directly impacted by inadequate nutrition. Starving brains and bodies cannot process information properly. Part of the impact is noted in how quickly people lose interest in food, or are unable to manage hunger and satiety. The cue of fatigue is ignored with the need to take another class or do another challenge or try a pose when your legs are quivering because you really are too tired and empty to do more. It is never worth the risk.
We are all human. Yes, we know that feeling of moving your body in a lovely sequenced flow that helps restore and refresh. Leave it at that. Even if you are thinking, “need to work off that extra-indulgent dessert last night”, don’t say it aloud.
Someone at risk may be listening and that random comment can trigger a host of unhealthy, even life-threatening behaviors that start out innocently enough.
Recent studies report that upwards of 15-20% of students in general yoga classes are struggling with disordered eating, body image disturbance (aka body image despair) or at high risk for onset of an eating disorder. Your students are often quite vulnerable and easily influenced by your suggestions.
Let’s pause and think of the incredible energy and healing LOVE from your yoga life.
Let’s keep a yoga life a sacred, special place to heal and grow and extend our branches to the skies and heavens.
Our healing connections provide the tapestry of weaving love, and understanding and kindness, practiced in mutually empowering relationships with others and with one’s self. Treat your one, precious life with great care and tenderness. Then share generously.
Namaste and love,