5 Ways Yoga Teachers Can Help Students with Eating Disorders

According to a study by the National Eating Disorders Association, 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder at one point or another. Many people downplay the severity of eating disorders, but these are serious mental conditions that affect a person’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. The worst cases can even lead to suicide. Thankfully, medical practitioners are finding ways to help patients cope with their conditions and restore their quality of life. Even yoga instructors can make a tremendous difference in the lives of people with eating disorders.

As a yoga teacher, it’s important to understand the special needs of your students. This is why yoga schools such as Yandara train their teachers what to do when somebody who suffers from an eating disorder enters the classroom. The necessary adjustments must be made to ensure that the student gets the most out of every yoga session. Yoga teacher training teaches it is important to understand the special needs of your students. This is why yoga schools such as Yandara train their teachers what to do when somebody who suffers from an eating disorder enters the classroom. The necessary adjustments must be made to ensure that the student gets the most out of every yoga session. Here are five truths about eating disorders every yoga teacher should know about.
Here are five truths about eating disorders every yoga teacher should know about.

1) Eating disorders can be severe, but they can be treated

Anyone can suffer from some form of eating disorder. Regardless of a person’s, age, body size, race, gender, or socioeconomic status, it’s possible to acquire this condition which is often spurred by painful life events. Biological, sociocultural, and psychological factors may also be to blame for the disease. 

2) Not all eating disorders are the same

To adequately address the needs of your students, you should know the different types of eating disorders. The three most common include binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa. If there’s anything in common among these eating disorders, it’s the fact that the symptoms are the means through which patients cope with trauma or other tragic events in their lives.

3) Poses that encourage openness to prove most helpful albeit challenging at first

For those affected by eating disorders, it can be uncomfortable to sit down with plenty of other people in a small room. The disorder causes them to shrink physically, emotionally, and mentally. As a yoga teacher, your goal should be to help the person become more open to others. Warrior poses may not work as well for them since it brings on feelings of fear and vulnerability. A gradual approach should be taken until the student feels more comfortable to try more upright poses and deeper breathing.

4) Patients tend to have a negative body image

Body dysmorphia is common among sufferers of eating disorders. This makes your yoga class more challenging, as you’d have to adapt to the needs of your students and learn what they can and cannot do. The patients may refuse to do certain poses for fear of being judged by others. With effective instruction, yoga can become a tool that develops their presence on and off the mat.

5) Recovery takes time

Just like any other serious health condition, recovering from an eating disorder entails a significant time investment. Your students already feel the burden on their shoulders, and it’s your job to help them ease the pain and suffering. Encourage them to incorporate yoga into their recovery process, as it can be an excellent instrument that mends the damaged relationship with the student’s body and self-esteem.

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