Friday, August 9, 2013

Yoga For Eating Disorders: An Amazing Mission

Yoga gives an incredible sense of empowerment, of fulfillment.
Yoga gives an incredible sense of empowerment, of fulfillment.
Image: Shutterstock
Eating disorders and yoga are two things I’ve talked about here at Sunshine and a Daisy. There are an estimated 24 million Americans who suffer from an eating disorder, but only about ten percent of those will ever receive treatment. Anorexia kills about half a million people every single year, making it the most deadly mental illness. Most of us know someone who has, or has had an eating disorder—whether we know it or not.

I’ve talked about yoga as a way to get in shape, to relax, to rid myself of stress, and to feel empowered. I’ve never thought about it as a way to combat eating disorders. The thought seems a little illogical, considering the fact that those with eating disorders need to bring in more calories, not burn them off.

But yoga isn’t about burning the calories off, not really. One of my yoga instructors put it succinctly during my second or third class when she was talking about having strength, resolve and balance in life. She said, “You may have come here thinking that yoga was just a way to get those nice abs. But now that you’re here, it’s a whole different ball game.” And she was right; it really is a whole different ball game now.

Chelsea Roff is leading the "Yoga For Eating Disorders" campaign.
Chelsea Roff is leading the "Yoga For Eating Disorders" campaign.
Image: Chelsea Roff / Indiegogo
So when I read Chelsea Roff’s story, I was completely inspired. When she was 15, Roff suffered a stroke caused by severe anorexia. At 58 pounds, she was placed under the custodianship of a hospital, where she lived and recovered for nearly a year and a half. Her therapist encouraged her to try yoga and she did.

“I was still significantly underweight and terrified of people, but I went…” Roff writes, “only to discover a practice (and community) that changed my life. I went from surviving to thriving; from living half a life to experiencing joy and freedom I never imagined possible.”

Six years later, she has developed a program that she hopes to be able to deliver all across the country to others struggling with eating disorders for free. “I used to believe no one recovered from an eating disorder,” she said. “Every person I knew who had struggled with this disease was still struggling, recovering seemed hopeless and impossible. But now I know: Freedom is possible. Joy is possible. There is a way out of this illness, and yoga is an incredible tool in paving the path to healing.”

Chelsea Roff has partnered up with the Give Back Yoga Foundation for her project, which is currently active on Indiegogo.com. The program is a three-day workshop that will, hopefully, be offered all over the country for no charge. With full funding, Roff also hopes to gather evidence-based research data on the effectiveness of yoga as a treatment for eating disorders, as well as offer pro-bono talks to local schools and community organizations where the program is being offered.

Now that’s a dang good cause if I’ve ever heard of one.


Looking for a cause? Support Roff's campaign.
Looking for a cause? Support Roff's campaign.
Image: Chelsea Roff / Indiegogo
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