The Root Chakra + Eating Disorders

February 26-March 4, 2017 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. I am proudly healthy, and I also I believe that recovery is a lifelong journey. All week, I'll be sharing thoughts about the joys (and struggles) along the way.

Please know that some topics and language used may be triggering to those in a vulnerable state.

To learn more, get screened, help or get help, visit nedawareness.org.

Being a human in this world requires constant adjusting and clearing of the seven chakras as our environments, interactions, experiences, and internal conversations cause build-up and blockages over time. 

Everyone's chakra situation is unique to the landscape of his or her life in any given moment, but certain challenges can cause predictable reactions. Eating disorder recovery warriors are likely to experience a sense of stuckness in their muladhara chakra—a realization that I crashed into this past weekend.

It wasn't until a chakra balancing workshop and lesson in my 200-hour yoga teacher training that I began to understand just how gunked-up my muladhara chakra had become. (Pro tip: If the words "safety," "stability," or "home" elicit uncontrollable tears for the proceeding two hours, your root chakra might be blocked.)

The muladhara, or root, chakra sits at the base of the pelvic floor. Associated with feelings of stability, safety, basic survival needs, and a sense of groundedness, it is energy's (or prana's, or chi's) first stop along your central meridian.

Anyway. Back to last Saturday. After drying my eyes, I was able to reflect. It all makes perfect sense: Even though I have been recovered from my eating disorder for most of my adult life, I had not, until recently, dug through the dirt. I had not, until recently, done the work of re-establishing myself as safe, secure, and at home on this earth and in my body.

Eating disorders wreck havoc on our basic survival needs: to be nourished. To feel loved. To move about the world with a sense of confidence and stability. With all the bingeing, purging, restricting, over-exercising, judging, reprimanding, and negative self-talk that occurs, it is no wonder we come out on the other side feeling depleted and unsafe. 

Ready for the good news? (Yes please.) Balancing your root chakra feels wonderful. It's the medicine and the spoonful of sugar. Here's what I'm doing to bring a greater sense of stability into my life.

  • Yin yoga. I love my intense hatha flows, but right now my soul is crying out for a slower pace. I'm adding a few restorative and yin classes to my regular practice, taking comfort in the focus on breathwork, gentle opening, and grounding.
  • Seated, supine, and supported postures in asana. Lately, I've been craving the feeling of melting into the ground. Drape your body over a bolster, let gravity do its work, and watch the magic happen.
  • Intentioned breathing. I mean, we all breathe, right? Sure, but how often do we do so mindfully and slowly? I've observed that 99.9% of the time, my breath is flighty and shallow: The opposite of grounded. When I catch this in action, I place my right hand on my belly, slowing both the inhalation and exhalations. The movement of your hand will show you just how deep (or not!) your breath really is.
  • Hikes/nature walks. I'm lucky that a little sunshine and warm weather has been injected into the typically gray and chilly Syracuse winter. I'm taking every nice day as an invitation to go for a gentle jog, walk, or hike in nature (bonus points if you can get to some soil instead of pavement).
  • Bringing comfort with me on-the-go. I don't love being in new or unfamiliar situations. So I make sure I have little pieces of home with me wherever I am. That means wearing a necklace from my best friend, bringing my favorite chopsticks and bowl to eat with if I'm at a café, and making my car a sanctuary for when I need to escape. 
  • Spending more time at home. Lately, it has felt really good to say no to social engagements. While becoming a recluse isn't the answer, nothing feels more nurturing than a quiet night at home alone with nothing to do but cook myself dinner, read, and turn in early. 

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Real-world eating disorder recovery tips, right this way.

To read about the most unexpected change that occurred when I embraced recovery, click here.