The Yoga Community is truly an amazing source of inspiration and encouragement. Over and over, I see how people’s lives have been changed for the better by yoga. It’s not specifically the asanas that bring the change, but the healing mentality that comes with the asanas. Yoga allows us to find great inner peace, and a connection to God by clearing a path through our minds and chipping away the parts of us that keep us from fully realizing healing. There are so many powerful stories out there, and I was really moved by my friend KaSandra’s story. She’s an incredibly beautiful, insanely talented yogini. Her body is enviably fit and strong, and can do poses that most people would only dream of trying. To see her now, you would never know that this lovely woman has been through hell and back, and that she nearly killed herself through a severe eating disorder. You wouldn’t guess this, because she brings such strength, soul and the message of grace to her practice today. She is one of the lucky ones, and she found healing through God and yoga.
Eating Disorders, body hatred and body dysmorphia are terrifyingly rampant in the United States. It’s a disease of the mind that drastically effects the body, and it’s become an epidemic. We live in a glamorized, airbrushed nation where enough is never enough and being called too skinny feels like the ultimate compliment. The quest for perfection and to look like girls on a cover of a magazine–girls who do not even look like themselves without Photoshop and makeup artists–can be deadly. For some, more than others. But regardless, it slowly kills the soul first and then the body. Breaking free from an eating disorder is harder in many ways than recovering from a meth or cocaine addiction. It takes such strength of will and determination, and more importantly, an intense desire to truly live a life of freedom from the chains. Don Miller says we’re called to hold our hands against the wounds of a broken world, to stop the bleeding. I agree so greatly. Let us help those who have been hurt. Let us heal the wounds we bear. You can follow KaSandra on Instagram (user name: yogigodlover) to share in her journey.
For help or information about eating disorders, please visit National Eating Disorders or Eating Disorder Hope. For further help regarding depression or self-harm, please visit To Write Love on Her Arms.
August 26, 2013 was the day I like to call “My Beautiful Journey.” It was the day my road to recovery from an eating disorder started. My eating disorder has been a part of my life for 15 years, and it has destroyed my life and almost took my life. When I first entered residential treatment and I met my therapist for the first time. I sat down and looked at her with tears streaming from my eyes and said to her, “I am broken. We have 30 days to fix me.” She looked at me with a deep stare into my eyes and said, “KaSandra, there is no time limit on healing. It’s going to be a long hard journey; you have to want it and fight for your life every day.”
Honestly I didn’t really know what she meant. I was thinking, just get me to start eating again, feed me food and all my problems will be solved. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I learned that eating disorders have nothing at all to do with food. When they told me that, I thought to myself, yeah right that’s my problem, FOOD IS MY PROBLEM. This was the first time I was faced with the concept that there was an underlying issue beyond food, and that I was taking my problems out on my body through food. Thirty days turned into three months, and in those three months.
I knew the underlying issue that initiated my eating disorder, and I just wasn’t ready to talk about it yet. My eating disorder was a way for me to feel in control and maybe a form of punishment. I didn’t feel like I was worthy to nourish my body and take care of it.
I learned more and more about my eating disorder, myself, why it started. I knew the underlying issue that initiated my eating disorder, and I just wasn’t ready to talk about it yet. My eating disorder was a way for me to feel in control and maybe a form of punishment. I didn’t feel like I was worthy to nourish my body and take care of it. There was a time I felt like my body failed me I hated it for that, I hated my body, I hated myself. I was filled with so much anger, guilt, shame, resentment and pain. I can tell you that when I entered residential, I knew I needed help. I knew I couldn’t live like this anymore, and I knew I was dying. I knew that when I walked through those doors I had to completely surrender. I had to give up my ways because obviously my way was not working. As scary as it was, that’s what I did. I put my trust in everyone around me, and I gave them complete control over my life. I was at such a dangerous weight: (I’m not going to tell you my weight, but what I can tell you is that I was 30lbs underweight) I had 70% brain function my heart rate dropped to 30 beats per minute (anything under 60 is considered dangerously low as it’s difficult for vital organs to be perfused with blood). My liver was enlarged, and I lost so much of my hair. I lost menstrual cycle and my body actually reversed itself and went into early menopause. I had osteopenia ( a condition which bone mineral density is lower than normal) and I kept having black outs and fainting spells. I could barely get out of bed in the morning, and anytime I tried to walk, I felt as if my legs were going to collapse.
The thing about this journey was during these seven months of treatment was I wasn’t willing to give up my eating disorder completely. The thought of giving it up scared the hell out of me, because I wasn’t sure who I would be without it. I didn’t know how I could even live my life without it. I know that sounds ridiculous right after it almost killed me?! It was a part of me for so long it was like my “best friend.”
I had to start the refeeding process to start gaining weight to get my body at a healthy weight. It was a hard and long process, and my body was not cooperating. As frustrating as it was, I had to be patient with my body and just trust my team that they knew exactly what they were doing. I left residential treatment after 3 months and made the decision to go live with my grandparents in New Jersey. I lived with them for four months while I completed an outpatient program which is a step down from residential. The thing about this journey was during these seven months of treatment was I wasn’t willing to give up my eating disorder completely. The thought of giving it up scared the hell out of me, because I wasn’t sure who I would be without it. I didn’t know how I could even live my life without it. I know that sounds ridiculous right after it almost killed me?! It was a part of me for so long it was like my “best friend.”
When I was done with treatment in NJ I moved back to MI, I knew deep down I was taking my eating disorder back, I was sick of people telling me when to eat, how to eat, who to see, who not to see, where to go, where not to go; I wanted to take back control and I did. After a month of moving back home I relapsed and it got ugly, it got nasty, and my eating disorder took me down once again. I remember it was a Wednesday afternoon and I made the decision that I couldn’t live like this anymore. I went to go see my very first doctor that had seen me when I was first hospitalized. I wanted his help and knew I needed help again if I truly wanted to be FREE. He told me he couldn’t help me and I needed to go that day and check myself into the hospital.
I didn’t start to truly heal until I started doing yoga. It relieved so much of my anxiety and I started to feel proud of my body. I started to become more confident it started to heal me mentally, physically, and spiritually. I can tell you that my body distortion started to get better. I also found God again, truly found Him. I knew I needed Him. I knew I couldn’t fight this fight alone anymore.
I didn’t want to go to the hospital because I needed something more than just being hooked up to a heart monitor and having someone try and shove a cookie down my throat. I found a treatment center close to where I lived. It was a place where they incorporated yoga into treatment every day. I thought, “This is my last shot at life; this is my last chance. I decided to do treatment there and this is why I call it “my beautiful journey.” You see, if I would have shared all my secrets all the things that were linked to my eating disorder I would maybe have never relapsed. I would have never found one of the most amazing people in my life (my therapist). I like to think of her as my angel. I trusted her so much that I started telling her all my secrets and I could feel the chains being broken. It’s true that “secrets keep you sick.” I would have never found yoga had it not been for this treatment center.
My eating disorder was never my best friend; it was worst enemy, my worst nightmare, and as much as I thought I was in control, I was completely out of control. It took me down and it took me down fast. I have learned with sit with the uncomfortable feelings. I have learned that “feelings are not facts” and most importantly I have learned to feel.
I didn’t start to truly heal until I started doing yoga. It relieved so much of my anxiety and I started to feel proud of my body. I started to become more confident it started to heal me mentally, physically, and spiritually. I can tell you that my body distortion started to get better. I also found God again, truly found Him. I knew I needed Him. I knew I couldn’t fight this fight alone anymore. This was all in His timing the way everything fell apart and was put back together beautifully. It was all because of Him. I fell in love with yoga so much that I decided I want to be a yoga instructor. I would have never thought in a million years that that’s what I would be doing with my life. I can’t tell you that every day is rainbows and flowers. I still have moments, days, weeks even that I struggle, but what I can tell you is that I know now it’s all LIES. My eating disorder was never my best friend; it was worst enemy, my worst nightmare, and as much as I thought I was in control, I was completely out of control. It took me down and it took me down fast. I have learned with sit with the uncomfortable feelings. I have learned that “feelings are not facts” and most importantly I have learned to feel.
I have been in recovery now for 6 months. I have not used any eating disorder behaviors even on the days I struggle I have found my voice and during those times I am struggling, I reach out for the extra support. I push through with the strength of the Lord by my side. I can tell you that I am truly happy, I am healthy, every single part of my body is functioning 100% and my body has been completely healed. I’M FREE! I have found me, I have found a life without an eating disorder, and let me tell you it’s a beautiful life, a life I never even imagined existed. I’m so blessed to be here today and to be alive. This has not been an easy journey I literately climbed out of the pits of hell more than once, but it has been a beautiful journey. I want you to know, you are enough just the way you are, I want you to know recovery is not easy but it is 100% possible. Spread your wings and don’t beafraid to fly. You are worthy of a happy, healthy beautiful life.