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Yoga for Eating Disorders


12 aug 2013 by Esther Ekhart

Hey everyone, just wanted to let you know about this special woman and her project that I feel is inspirational and worthy.

Meet Chelsea Roff, at 15 Chelsea almost died from an eating disorder. She was hospitalized and started her road to recovery. In her recovery process her therapist suggested yoga and it changed everything.

"I walked into that first yoga class desperate to burn calories, to fix a body that i'd thought had gotten too big to tolerate, only to discover a practice and a community that changed my life"

Now Chelsea wants to give back by helping others who are suffering from eating disorders through a program she has spent years developing called Yoga for Eating Disorders. She hopes to offer this program for free at treatment centers across the US. Read or watch her story, share, donate and be inspired by this beautiful person.

Here is her story......

A game changer

“ Yoga can be a game changer in eating disorder treatment. I know. At 15 years old, I nearly died from a stroke resulting from severe anorexia. I was 58 pounds, severely depressed, and had given up on my life. Fortunately, my life was saved by an amazing team of medical professionals. But while traditional treatment did help me survive -- when I left the hospital (I was there for 18 months!), I still hated my body, was plagued with self-deprecating thoughts, and lacked the resources to fully step into life.

A few months later, my outpatient therapist encouraged me to try yoga. I was resistant -- I thought yoga sounded too touchy-feeling, too new-agey, too gentle for my tastes. The only reason I went was because I desperately wanted to change my body; I felt it had gotten too big to tolerate, I felt like (despite the fact that I was still 10 pounds underweight) I needed to burn calories to prevent myself from getting fat.

Surviving to thriving

That first yoga class changed everything. This practice re-introduced me to a body I hadn’t felt -- truly felt -- in years. Yoga taught me how to listen to my body’s needs, appreciate it for its functions rather than form, and be with emotions I nearly killed myself trying to starve away. More importantly, yoga introduced me to a community that became like a family to me. Over the next few years, I went from surviving to thriving; from living half a life to experiencing joy and freedom like I never imagined possible.

The statistics around eating disorders in this country are discouraging. Nearly 24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders, and only one in ten ever receive treatment. This disease kills nearly half a million people every year – daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, and spouses. That’s not okay. I know there’s a way out of this illness, and I believe yoga can be an incredible tool in paving the way.

Over the past several years, I’ve put a lot of thought into which elements of the yoga practice were helpful in my recovery and which weren’t so much (I think some aspects of yoga culture can actually exacerbate an eating disorder). I’ve developed a program called Yoga for Eating Disorders that teaches patients practical tools for learning how to tune into hunger and fullness signals, cope with difficult emotions, and relate to their body as an ally rather than an enemy. Without those skills, it’s nearly impossible to be successful in recovery.

Help her raise funds

This month, I launched a campaign to raise $50,000 to offer Yoga for Eating Disorders at treatment centers around the country at no charge. More importantly, I’ll be using the funds raised to collect data for an evidence-based study on its effectiveness as a complementary treatment for eating disorders. This program teaches patients critical skills for long term recovery; potentially shortening treatment, reducing relapse, and ultimately saving lives.


We need your help!

But I can’t do this alone. I need your help. If you feel inspired by this story or have been touched by an eating disorder personally, please take a moment to donate to the campaign. Every dollar counts. Here are a few ways you can help:

  1. Donate – Today! Every little bit counts – even $5! If you’re going to contribute, please don’t wait! It’s very important we build momentum early in the campaign; if people see the campaign is successful, they’ll donate too. Your donation is tax-deductible.
  2. Like, Comment On, or Share our campaign page. Word of mouth goes a long way!
  3. Tell a yoga studio in your city about the campaign. Some studios are offering to give a free class to anyone who donates. If your studio is interested, they can email me and we’ll set them up as a studio partner. "

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