yoga teacher trainingBy Faye Martins

You might not find a specialized yoga instructor training course about eating disorders, but you’ll find yoga instructors reaching out to this group quite often.  The average yoga instructor is likely to have private clients or groups with a common need.  There are many types of eating disorders. We are probably most familiar with either Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa.

Anorexia involves depriving the body of food to the point of starvation, while Bulimia involves binging and purging food. The causes of the disorders are often hard to pinpoint, but they usually involve some type of mental and emotional stress. People suffering from eating disorders often have a poor body image, lack of confidence or other emotional or social problems. The eating disorder results as a coping mechanism to deal with other serious issues.

Yoga training can be a helpful form of therapy for those suffering with eating disorders because it encourages positive body awareness and dealing with various emotions instead of tamping them down or allowing the eating disorder to take over. Yoga can help release negative emotions while providing a way for the body to become strong, flexible and agile. Yoga training will allow patients to become familiar with and confident in their bodies over time.

Yogic philosophy is about accepting who you are and nurturing that person no matter what life throws at you. It means finding an inner peace that allows you to be confident and sure, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. Those with eating disorders can benefit from finding this inner peace that will encourage them to treat their bodies with respect and dignity, giving their selves the nourishment and sustenance they need to live healthy lives.

An disorder related to eating becomes a bandage for many different types of emotional issues. Perhaps the person with the disorder has been applying this bandage for so long they don’t even know what the source of the injury is anymore. Meditation and breathing exercises can help patients get to the root of the problem, which can ultimately be the first step toward wellness.

Other types of exercise focus on changing the body, losing weight or gaining muscle. Yoga training is different because the main focus is uniting the body with the mind and accepting your body as is. The healthful side effects can sometimes be weight loss or muscle gain, but those are not the goal of a yoga practice. That’s why yogic methodology can be helpful for those suffering with eating disorders. It teaches them to look at their bodies in a different way and to feel a higher level of respect and awe of their bodies and selves. Yogic practices will teach those with eating disorders to value inner peace and acceptance over outward appearances.

Side Notes for Yoga Teachers

Eating disorders are most common with children, teens, and young adults.  At this age, some guidance toward emotional stability is needed.  If you network with local counselors, it is well worth the time to find out if there are groups in your local community that could use your help.  At the same time, you may want to add this to your web site’s list of reasons why people or groups take private Yoga lessons.

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