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Yoga Therapy for Eating Disorders

Over 10 million women and a million men are affected by different forms of eating disorders in the United States alone. Most of them are teens and the common illnesses are represented by anorexia and bulimia. The physical factors related to these illnesses have only been recently acknowledged as only mental factors were previously thought to be responsible for these conditions. Eating disorders are triggered by a complexity of factors including social, biological, psychological and behavioral items.
A calm and focused mind has a better chance of reducing the harmful effects of eating disorders. Yoga has been proven to reduce depression and recreate a state of balance and well being. Different yoga practices encourage heightened levels of self esteem and promote a positive view of your own body. This is a crucial factor in eating disorders and has been shown to significantly increase recuperation and healing. By eliminating self judgment, yoga establishes a strong connection between mind and body, allowing the two elements to work together in decreasing any negative effects. Anorexia affects your body’s energy levels and reduces the bone density, creating unwanted negative effects at a physical level. Regular yoga practice also increase the overall fitness level of the body, giving it a good chance of fighting against illnesses.
The yogic system identifies eating disorders as a problem related to the first chakra and different poses are used to balance it: crab, full wind, pigeon, locust, staff etc. Strengths and courage can be increased by using grounding postures such as mountain, goddess, standing squat and prayer squat. The postures reestablish the strong mind-body connections and help overcome most physical obstacles. Most back bending poses help reduce depression and forward bends usually calm the spirit and reduce the effects of anorexia.
As the mental component plays an important role in eating disorders, meditation can reduce harmful thoughts and feelings. An active, specifically targeted meditation practice will prove to be very effective. Less obvious results can also be obtain by using a general mediation technique. The yoga poses work best when the exterior elements are left aside and concentration focuses on inner aspects of yourself. Paying special attention to breathing and inner sensations will take you to a state of calmness and increased awareness. This new state will allow you to go further an explore new concepts that will enable you to achieve goals that proved problematic in the past.
Being aware of the problem and showing a constant and strong desire to change that is a great method to reduce the effects of bulimia and anorexia. An early adoption of yoga practices would make the patient more aware of the problem, thus contributing to an early cure. However, these yoga techniques are usually used in the recuperative stages of the illness. Most people suffering from anorexia or bulimia go through a strong denial stage, which aggravates their condition even more. As with all illnesses, yoga works best in the prevention stage of the problem, when the negative effects are still low and easier to eliminate.

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