What was your very first thought when you woke up this morning? Did you feel ready to embrace the day or were you sucked into a spiral of worrisome thoughts about food and your body? How much time and energy did you expend enacting a line up of rituals to control the outcome (or intake) of the day ahead?
For many years, the first thing I did when I woke up was furiously body check. I had to know my body was safe, that I did not gain weight overnight. I used to believe that at midnight my intake for the day was tallied and my "weight fate" was determined. As you can imagine, I woke up every morning panicked, desperately needing the reassurance that I had not been greedy.
Of course, waking up to obsessive body checking rituals set me up for one outcome: a day filled with endless eating disordered thoughts and rituals. And that, my friends, is a dead end, a path to nowhere over the long-term, as you probably already know.
More than anything else, a steady and consistent yoga practice has helped me break this dead-end morning ritual cycle. As a mother and professional, I don’t necessarily have time to roll out my mat and practice poses in the early morning, but I can take a few deep breaths and set an intention for the day. This, too, is yoga.
Poses are wonderful, but they are a gateway to the ultimate goal of the practice, which is to be fully present to the moment and feed ourselves self-compassion instead of self-loathing.
Starting my day this way sets me up to feel more empowered and prepared to summon the strength to navigate the challenges to come.
Tomorrow morning, give this a try:
When you wake up, notice the first thoughts that come to mind. Notice your mood and outlook on the day ahead, too. If you are preoccupied with food and body stuff and find yourself in ritual mode, sit or lie still and take three deep breaths. Follow your breath in and out.
Next, ask yourself: Who do I want to show up as in my life today? Continue asking yourself this question until the answer is not related to your eating disorder in any way, shape, or form. Ask until you arrive at a word or phrase that encompasses a positive trait or quality that you want to create more of in your life. This is your intention. Hold your intention in your mind and continue to breathe deeply and steadily. Use your breath and intention to actively rebuke eating disorder thoughts and urges to perform rituals. Take note of any shifts in your outlook and energy.
Revisit this quiet yoga practice as many times as you need to throughout the day. If you have the time and space to do some poses with your intention in mind, do so. The more you can breathe deeply and hardwire in a positive intention, the more you will believe it is possible to show up in your life as who you innately already are.
Jennifer Kreatsoulas, PhD, RYT 500, is a yoga teacher and yoga therapist specializing in eating disorders and body image. In recovery herself, Jennifer is extremely passionate about helping others reconnect with their bodies and be empowered in their lives. Jennifer works with clients in person and via Skype. She also teaches yoga at the Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Philadelphia and is a partner with the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. She leads trauma-sensitive yoga classes and teaches weekly flow yoga classes. Jennifer contributes regularly to several eating disorder and body image blogs and the YogaLiving Magazine. Connect with Jennifer: www.ChimeYogaTherapy.com.
I hope Jennifer's writing helps Inspire Your Recovery. Xo, Angie