How Yoga Helped Me Recover From my Eating Disorder: Guest Post on Mind Body Green


Thank you all for welcoming Marissa to the blog yesterday with her Green Recovery story! As always, I appreciate your thoughtful contributions to this series.

Staying on topic, I’m sharing personal thoughts today on the relationship between my yoga practice and recovery. I spend a lot of time writing about how dietary changes and choices helped me to recover. But I haven’t said much about what types of movement, if any, played a roll in that process. While I wouldn’t say that yoga impacted my recovery the way becoming vegan did, I do think it has played an important role in helping me to sustain that recovery over time. I’m in a very different place than I was when I began to practice. Today, over at the wonderful wellness and yoga site Mind Body Green, I paint a portrait of where I was emotionally the first time I stepped into a yoga studio:

The first time I tried yoga, I spent the better part of class feeling as though I’d been ripped off. This was not because I had a bad teacher, or because the studio lacked something to be desired. It was because I had spent the class making a mental tally of the calories I was burning, and they didn’t add up.

In other words, I’d wasted a workout.

This had all sorts of serious ramifications. It meant that the precious hour of my time I’d allotted to exercise for the day hadn’t yielded adequate energy expenditure. It meant I’d now have to carve out gym time. It meant I might have to cancel my after work plans to squeeze in another workout, or skip my lunch break, or leave the office for a while just to get in the appropriate amount of cardio. Yoga had deceived me: it had promised me a good workout, and given me stretching and a few hops around a rubber mat instead. I was furious, and swore I’d never do it again.

If this doesn’t sound like the Gena you know, it’s because it’s not—at least, not present-day Gena! Over the course of many years, yoga has helped me to develop a compassionate relationship with my body, and it has freed me from thinking about exercise as a means to an end. Read all about my journey with yoga in today’s guest post, and please feel free to share your own experiences and thoughts in the comments. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has had a transformative experience with yoga, and if there is another type of exercise that has given you the freedom yoga gave me, I’d love to hear about it, too!

Till tomorrow,


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Categories: Food and Healing

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  1. Hello there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted
    to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy
    reading your blog posts. Can you recommend any
    other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics?
    Many thanks!

  2. This was a wonderful read, Gena, and really spoke to me – especially how your type A/perfectionistic traits initially skewed your perception of yoga practice! Us type A folks must have all of our experiences pass through that filter first… so glad to see that you are able to achieve balance in your practice and appreciate your body for all it does for you! <3

  3. I feel like it was definitely running that gave me a more positive relationship with exercise. Some of my coworkers don’t understand why I run 6 miles every other day and strength train and then also do a longer run on the weekends. They always say things like “you don’t need to lose anymore weight” or “you run like you weigh four hundred pounds. Running has never been about weight loss for me. Running is my yoga. Its where my mind shuts off and my legs keep moving. Running keeps me sane and it keeps me going. Thank you for a fantastic post, as usual.

  4. This article has really inspired me to give yoga another chance! I tried it out in the beginning of my recovery however, I felt like it made me TOO in-tune with my body and my recent weight gain. I’m thinking now that I am almost a year (crazy!!!!) into recovery and more comfortable with my new healthy body that yoga may be just what I need to move my recovery forward that little bit more. Thanks for the great post, as always 🙂

  5. I loved reading this article. So many young women struggle with disordered eating and behavior, and help is often difficult or impossible to find. Yoga is something that has helped me be aware of my body and be grateful for what it can do. Thanks for a wonderful article and keep up the great work.

  6. Great article. I’m not doing yoga (regularly at least), but I can relate to your message very well through my experience with martial arts (Aikido). Coming a martial arts class with a primary goal of calorie burning or a mind set to winning, in any sense, is totally pointless. Presence, awareness, and communication with your true self and your partner (i.e. lose the ego) should be the focus areas, and I feel that this very similar to your experience with yoga (except for the partner thing!). In the beginning it felt like a waste of workout time (not getting enough cardio), but now I realise it’s this is such a naturally strengthening and healthy way of moving, and it’s keeping me in better shape than anything else I’ve tried. I’ll be describing it as nourishing training from now on. 😉

  7. I read this yesterday and found myself nodding my head the whole time. I really need to start filling my “workout” space with more yoga and not everything else, at least until I heal a bit more. And while I still have a hard time accepting yoga as a “workout,” even after 15 years of doing it on my own, I truly acknowledge that it is indeed a mental exercise in letting go of the ego and preconceived notions of just about everything else that comes up.

    When I don’t focus, I fall. Not just in yoga, but in life. Great post, my friend 😉

  8. Gena, I can’t believe how similar we are sometimes. I can relate to so much what you have said about yoga helping you heal. It’s such an amazing tool for healing & personal growth. Articulate & thoughtful, as always.

  9. This was an amazing post Gena! Strangely, ballet is my yoga; despite the physical ideal that ballet presents, I’ve always found that ballet class is when I’m most in the moment and thinking only about how I’m dancing that second. And of course, I’m not working off of my own plan, only doing what the instructor has planned for the class.

  10. Gena, you are just precious! You are an inspiration….even for this (almost 70 year old) woman. I love your blog. I just don’t know how you handle the tough education schedule and this blog too. That’s why you’re inspiring! Good luck in all you do. I finally went to the store and got some chia seeds to make my pudding! Will be using blackberries as that’s what we have in the freezer…instead of blue berries. I hope it works okay. I have a Vita Mix, so hope it will pulverize the seeds as that’s the only reason I don’t enjoy blackberries. Love that picture I saw today. Elaine