Read part one of this blog here.

Making “nice” with inner voices

Self-talk is only one of many factors that contribute to developing an eating disorder or negative body image. Each individual has a complicated story of how they came to cope with their stresses, body chemistry and emotional traumas. I do not wish to imply that self-talk is the only way into or out of an eating disorder,  as it is a very serious condition that has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and requires comprehensive treatment. Anorexia also carries the highest mortality rate for females age 15-24: 12 times higher than any other cause of death.

But I do want to offer that if you are parenting a child, or re-parenting yourself, please routinely look into the parts of you that you do not like, and begin to create a more diplomatic and compassionate relationship with the layers and parts of yourself that tie together to make you whole. When we compartmentalize our fat, or our skin color, or our bone shapes, we dishonor our complexity, and how important every cell is to the totality of our being.

It’s our parts that make us whole. If you feel there is a hole inside your spirit, and you are looking to fill it in ways that are doing damage, please seek out some of the resources below, and know that you are lovable and worthy and still have the wisdom of an unbiased child within you.

1) National Council on Eating Disorders

2) Kirstin Hara: Spiritual Counseling

3) Geneen Roth, soulful author of Women, Food and God

4) Gil Hedley writes passionately about falling in love with fat

5) My Yoga Tune Up® Core Immersion where we explore these issues and core tissues.

6) Anna Guest-Jelly, the role model and genius behind Curvy Yoga

[Reprinted with kind permission from Gaiam Life.]

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Laura Woodrow

It’s so easy to fall into the pitfall of self-judgment and self shame in yoga class when it seems like everyone else knows what they’re doing and can finesse it better. We forget that most of us have something we’re wrestling with and what might look like perfection on the outside can be a hot mess on the inside. Thank you for all the valuable resources to help empower those grappling with food related challenges.

Michelle Jordahl

Thanks for your reminder on this subject. Self talk is very important and can influence
Our image of our selves. When you release the idea of being perfect your whole world becomes kinder.

Amie Alapeteri

Becoming aware of one’s self and recognizing negative self-talk provides the opportunity to redesign the way we look at ourselves and why. When we are in the habit of recognizing this pattern, we are able to address they whys. Why do we see ourselves in such a negative light, and how does that propel us into negative actions? Becoming intrinsically aware of this will bring about a brain shift–affecting our inner voice; the way we carry ourselves, and how we interact with others. Identifying the triggers and taking a new approach on how you react to those triggers can be… Read more »

Leslie Wright

Ah me. You do an important service, Jill, writing about this troubling topic, We in the yoga community can do a lot to support the mental health of ourselves and our students, even as the models in Yoga Journal are getting (alarmingly) thinner and thinner. I am the mother of an 18-year-old daughter who scrutinizes herself–every pore and and bump and blemish– with the critical eye of an art dealer who is looking for the tell-tale signs of forgery, She feels that she will never measure up to the masterpieces–models in magazines–that she sees represented all around her. You might… Read more »

Merissa

This is a great check-in for all women, no matter the age or if they practice yoga or not. The more self-aware I become through my yoga practice, the more I want to take care of my body. Because YTU class has made us become even more self-aware of our bodies and taught us self talk.

Melissa

Jill, what a great post! I love the idea of allowing girls to define, and adults to re-define their own interpretation of ‘fat’. I work a lot with kids at high schools, local YMCAS and dance studios, and eating disorders pop up so often. Next time I teach my girls, I’m going to work Sankalpa into my teachings, so whenever they feel vulnerable, or unhappy with their bodies or judgment they always have something to fall back on.

Thanks for a great post!

Laurie Streff Kostman

Thanks for these articles on a subject that is rarely brought to the forefront but needs more attention to take away the taboo that is associated with it. I especially appreciate the list of resources provided. As a mother of a 16 year old daughter, I am always aware of the message I am sending to her, particularly when I am talking about myself. It’s easy for us to use our outside voices when that critical self talk streams, “ugh I’m so fat,” “I hate my thighs,” “I am going to starve myself tomorrow to make up for today.” But… Read more »

Debi

I doesn’t matter size or shape everyone has this issue. I have a new mantra “If you don’t have anything nice to say especially to yourself, don’t say anything”

Em

Thank you for this! Just read the linked post by Gil and can definitely appreciate this new perspective on “the energy of adipose.” At certain phases, my weight maintenance and loss goals have flagged, I’ve reminded myself to full appreciate what my body does for me. A remark by one teacher has always stayed with me: “You have a body to play the game.” Nonetheless, definitelely still absorbing (with awareness!) parents’ outlook, and what I consider to be their “skinny elitisim. A process.

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Anna-Marie Lawrence

It’s funny how we can hold onto old beliefs from our childhood, and although we can think that time and perhaps age has somehow evolved us and made us stronger. Time does not always quite those little voices we carry inside. As some one who had recovered from an eating disorder well over 20 plus years ago. I must admit that I still hear some of those self judging voices at times., and it’s at those moments I realize that learning compassion towards myself/yourself is the best lesson I could ever teach a student.

Jayme

Thank you for writing this, as so many people in our society are dealing with image issues these days! And the cases are getting younger and younger, which is devastating. If everyone came from a place of love, whether it be to yourself or others, this world would be a better place. If you don’t love yourself, who will? I think it is also the duty of a yogi, to help yield the conversations and chatter of our egos and realize we are all on the same level. But first we have to be honest with ourselves. I admire the… Read more »

Nicolette

This was an unexpected surprise, coming across this blog topic. It’s definitely sensitive territory but Jill just has a way with words that not only makes sense, but also sheds light in a completely new, often fascinating way. Much of that applies even to the above paragraphs where disordered eating is given the platform for some steps toward healing. I very much appreciated the additional resources, especially the Roth and Hara pieces. I wanted to suggest one other book that has a unique perspective on the topic of bulimia- Brain Over Binge, Kathryn Hansen.

Ann Taylor Lashbrook

Thanks for this reminder. I loved Women, Food and God and also found that The Only Diet There Is (a diet from negative thinking) to be so powerful! I am reminded of the need to be gentle to myself in any pose where my flesh simply doesn’t allow me to fully experience a pose. I know when I am in those moments that I have a choice, I can say mean things to myself or I can breathe and know it is all perfect. Only when I love myself truly will any of that change anyway.

Alicia Wang

ED will always be there. Long after my recovery I still hear “the voice” that says you can’t measure up, that you never will. That voice says punish yourself by numbing yourself with food. The difference is that I have awareness that that voice is from outside of me, from years of reading magazines that had unrealistic images, of watching a mother loath herself. Yoga gave me the gift of awareness. Perhaps the most important aspect of that awareness is that I am just a fragment of Everything. If I practice Ahimsa it must start with me! My (newish) philosophy… Read more »

Lauren

I really appreciated reading this blog post. As a psychotherapist in training and a yoga teacher in training, I believe it is my job to model healthy living – and, I certainly have my beasts. I think my eating disorder is what led me down this path and I am constantly working to combat the negative voices in my head that make me insecure, competitive, and overall unhappy. It is these voices that I must learn to silence and go behind if I want to do my job well. I see yoga as very complementary with therapy, and it’s nice… Read more »

Heli

I think first time when I was thinking about food, eating and getting fat stared about when I was 10-11 years old. Actually I have always beeing thin, but it was so important not to become fat..Slowly when I was about 17-20 I stopped eating sweets, meet, fish and so on. I am 165 tall and I weighed 44-45 kg. I lost my menstrual, started to losing hair and got many other problems.. I never talked to anyone about my eating problems. I really thought that I was fat and could lose weight little bit more.. Around ages 24-25 I… Read more »

Hanna

My perspective on my body changed a lot since I had my first child. For the first time, it wasn´t just there to look good or carry me around. It actually did a job it was created for. It carried, grew, delivered and nursed a child. It grew, aced, bursted, bruised, went on a hormon roller-coaster, mellowed out and healed. My body is not at all what it was, but when I have bad days, my stretch-mark-belly sighs at me and goes “Hey, aren´t you being a little unfair to me? I created something really cool, you know?” So I… Read more »

Kim

I really appreciate (and have worked with) this idea of looking at the things that we don’t like about ourselves – bringing light into the darkness. Though it is so hard to do, by acknoweldging these things and then, as Jill describes, weaving those parts we don’t like with the parts that we can see as beautiful into a tapestry of a more complete picture of our entire selves, we can begin to let go of that self-judgement and appreciate ourselves for everything we are, not just part. Letting go of the personal loathing and negative judgement is a constant… Read more »