Every so often, I experience a moment that drops me into a space of clear, pure, and complete trust that recovery is mine for the taking. My recent relapse threatened to eat me alive, and so my work the past 18 months has been as much of a therapeutic deep dive as it has a coup against my biological drive to starve myself. Like addiction, anorexia and other types of eating disorders have a genetic component. So many of us who endure these diseases do so in part out of genetic predisposition.
Like many in a recovery process, yoga is a source of steadiness. My recovery and yoga journey has led me teach as well as train to become a yoga therapist. I recently took an immersion course in anatomy. The weekend started with a palpation exercise. I was paired up with a classmate, and by following the instructor’s lead, we took turns palpating or examining by touch each other’s skeleton. We started at the feet and worked our way to the head.
Because of my eating disorder, I have been driven to wear my bones. Strangely and surprisingly, as my partner palpated my skeleton, I was not preoccupied with concerns over whether my hipbones jut out or if my ribs could be sensed just under the surface of skin or whether my collarbones were abnormally pronounced. The very moment that I realized my mind was calm and my body was receptive to the educational objectives of the exercise, I experienced a moment of blissful clarity.
In that moment, I recognized my bones not as an outward sign of my illness, but as an inward system that supports life—my life. I understood my skeleton as the origin of movement, stability, rotation, and flexion. As the force from which I flow through sun salutations and expand gloriously open in backbends. As the force that allows me to hold my daughters and husband close, and embrace those who are special to me.
In that powerful moment, I made peace with my bones and the layers of my humanity that cover them. I also made peace with my biology. I accepted my illness as one part of my life experience rather than the entirety of my identity. Finally, I can live with myself at the level of my bones.
By Jennifer Kreatsoulas, PhD
Founder of Chime Yoga and Mentoring, Jennifer specializes in mentoring mothers and new yoga teachers. She is also training to be a yoga therapist. Jennifer works with clients one-on-one and teaches yoga in the Philadelphia area.