How We Incorporate Yoga and Meditation in Eating Disorder Recovery

eight-limbsIn conjunction with traditional psychotherapy and medical nutrition therapy, here is how yoga and meditation is intertwined in your healing process:

The Eight Limbs of Yoga or Eight Fold Path

The first book to systematize the practice of yoga was the classic treatise the Yoga Sutras (or Aphorisms) of Patanjali dating from 200 B.C. The Yoga Sutras are ethical blueprints for living a moral life and incorporating the science of yoga into your life. Yoga is NOT a religion, but yet another path to enlightenment.

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes Yoga as “chitta vrtti nirodhah”. This may be translated as the restraint (nirodhah) of mental (chitta) modifications (vrtti) or as suppression (nirodhah) of the fluctuations (vrtti) of consciousness (chitta).

How We Incorporate the Eight Limbs of Yoga or Eight Fold Path in the Healing Process

The heart of Patanjali’s teachings is the eightfold path of yoga. It is also called the eight limbs of Patanjali, because they intertwine like the branches of a tree in the forest. In our individual and group programs, we use the eight fold path to help to individuals gain insight as to how they treat themselves and others, while working towards personal disciplines and attitudes, withdrawal of the senses, inward focus and letting go of old attachments–including attachment to illnesses–that are keeping you stuck.

In our yoga and eating disorder recovery programs at Reconnect with Food®, we use the chakras to get to the root of your food-related behavior. Often, when emotional pain is unresolved, this emotional imbalance manifests itself through physical pain based on the emotional energy or block and is associated with a specific chakra.

What are Chakras?

In our yoga and eating disorder recovery programs, we use the Chakras as a means to reconnect the mind, body and spirit.

The chakras are spinning wheels or vortices of vital energy linking the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual being into one. The chakras are said to have a location in the “subtle”body as shown in the graphic to the right, even though they are not actually in the physical body.

Interestingly, endorphins are concentrated along the spine in a way that corresponded to the chakras. The chakras overlap two chains of nerve bundles located on either side of the spinal cord, each rich with many of the information-carrying peptides.

How We Incorporate the Chakras into the Healing Work of our Individual and Group Programs

The first chakra, muladhara:

Your roots and external messages that form your food beliefs and rituals.

The second chakra, svadisthana:

Your relationship with food and how it parallels every other relationship in your life.

The third chakra, manipura:

Issues related to responsibility, self-esteem, and nourishing your soul.

The fourth chakra, anahata:

How you use food to deal with emotions and learn to let go of old behaviors.

The fifth chakra, vishuddha:

The power of choice in healing your relationship with food.

The sixth chakra, anja:

Learn to use your intuition and insight in making food and related-behavior choices in your highest good.

The seventh chakra, sahasrara:

Explore the spirituality of food and your spirituality in the healing process.

In our yoga and eating disorder recovery programs at Reconnect with Food®, we work toward balancing the energy related to the chakras to heal physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and therefore heal your relationship with food.

How does meditation work in eating disorder recovery?

Yoga is the highest form of meditation. Interestingly, the neurologist, Antonio Damasio, headed the team that created the Iowa gambling experiment. Dr. Damasio studied patients with damage to a small but critical part of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which lies behind the nose. The ventromedial area plays a critical role in decision-making.

People with damage to their ventromedial area are perfectly rational. They can be highly functional, but they lack judgment. Addicts can articulate very well the consequences of their behavior, but they fail to act accordingly–because of this brain issue causing the disconnect between what one “knows and what one does.”

Studies have shown that meditation can act on the cerebral cortex improving awareness, focus and memory. Further studies are warranted to understand the exact mechanics of yoga and how yoga can help food addiction and related eating behaviors involving these intricate brain centers.

Courtesy of: Beverly Price Reconnect With Food.

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  1. Really excellent information and content. Thank you

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