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So I taught MY first class on Thursday. And by that I mean it is MY class… 4:30 every Thursday every week from now until forever… or you know, for a while.

They added me to the teacher’s page… check me and the studio out!

Teaching yoga is a such a high. I get towards the end of a class and just think, how did I get here? It’s done already? I just talked for a whole 75 minutes? It’s crazy! But I love it… and I love hearing that people actually enjoy my classes. It makes me feel so accomplished.

This week my class was focused on the first chakra, the root chakra, and opening it and thus grounding ourselves. The lesson I sort of tried to get across is that the idea of grounding is one of those things that you can take off the mat with you and into your real life. The more grounded you are in your values and your family and your career, the further you can grow. In yoga you will often hear, at least in the classes I have taken, that to reach up you need to ground down. The act of pushing down, rooting your feet, firming your legs, allows the upper part of you to reach even higher. For example, in bridge pose you need to push down with your feet and your shoulders and your head to lift your hips higher. Without the grounding you cannot lift very high. We also went into handstand and practiced using our hands to ground down, because sometimes your life gets turned upside down and you need to figure out how to be grounded in the chaos as well. So, in handstand you are literally upside down and learning how to find a new, unfamiliar grounding.

Did I mention I love yoga?

I’m seriously contemplating sending in an application for the Kripalu 500hr teacher training. It’s expensive, but you have 10 years to complete it… and they have financial aid and scholarships available. I love learning and I always have… and I just want to keep learning about yoga and being able to share that with other people.

I’ve decided I have a closed third chakra. In the process of opening, but still slightly closed nonetheless. What is a chakra you may ask? Good question, because a chakra is something you may have heard of (or maybe not), but I don’t think many people are actually aware of what they are. Chakras are, in simple terms, different energy centers in the body. There are technically 6 of them, but usually it is said that there are 7 since one of them is not technically in the body.

Anyway, I was in class last night and we were working on opening up the third chakra, or Manipura, which is approximately located at the base of the sternum. My instructor last night was discussing how it is the chakra of identity. It is where self-confidence is grown, where we store our personal power and strength, and it is the place in our bodies where we get butterflies and feel anxiety.

We damage our third chakra when we go against our own integrity, when we are stubborn and don’t go along with change, and when we repress our anger.

When the third chakra is inactive, or underactive, people may have low self-esteem, intestinal disorders, and weight problems. People with a closed third chakra may be quiet or withdrawn and afraid of taking risks or confrontations. They may be too serious and may not laugh as often as they should. They take themselves too seriously, are too hard on themselves. The third chakra is the place of fire and without that people become cold and hardened. According to Nothing but Yoga one consequence of an underactive third chakra, is guess what? Eating disorders. Interesting…

This makes sense I suppose. I’ve often been described, as much as I hate it, as cold and hardened (in high school I was known for my death stare, and for my ice queen poker face). I’ve often been told to lighten up and it is very hard for me and takes a lot of energy to not isolate and remain withdrawn. That all said it’s great that I’m aware of all of that, because I can actively work on it, and I am.

I think there are many aspects of the third chakra that are open for me, however the concept of personal power I think is something many girls with eating disorders lack… we lack the belief that we have a right to follow our appetites – and not only in regards to food, but in regards to power, to sex, to desire, and happiness, to success. A healthy third chakra is one in which we embrace our bodies, our minds, our spirits, our visions, our knowledge, and our emotions. We need to embrace ALL of these, ALL of ourselves… including the first, our bodies. We need to fully be IN our bodies and not use our eating disorders to numb our emotions. 

One thing I remember very well from my times in treatment was the sadness on the faces of all of the residents. The blank coldness behind all of our eyes. We certainly had our fun in treatment, but it was a pseudo-fun, a fake, jaded happiness that was there to cover up everything else we were going through, what we were working on in ourselves, in therapy, with our families. It would come out at meal time, or in group therapy, and then it would hide again. It was embedded in our low self-esteem, in being afraid of the consequences that would arise if we weren’t perfect, and in our ability to be so caring to everyone but ourselves in a desperate attempt to keep our relationships, to not get left behind and forgotten, to be accepted and loved… at least for me.

So how do we fix this? Some suggestions I found were yelling (the banned Renfrew screaming groups), punching pillows, and hot yoga. Seriously, hot yoga.

So this makes sense as to why I love hot yoga so much and another reason why yoga is so great for girls with eating disorders. In yoga there is no perfect, therefore there is no perfect to strive towards and therefore there are no mistakes. There are no failures, just growth. And if you find the right studio, yoga is about community, about family and acceptance.  We nurture our third chakra by acknowleding the fact that we do have power of will and to choose the paths of our life and that we are the only people that can live our lives… and if we spend it for years in treatment or in hiding, then we are choosing to do that – no one else is. It means actively reaching our dreams and not waiting for it to get easier.

I don’t think the third chakra is the only closed chakra for girls with eating disorders. The second chakra has to do with desire… with appetite. There is a test you can take (Chakra Test) to see what are closed and open for you. My root (1st), sacral (2nd), navel (third) and throat (5th) chakras are under active. While my heart, third eye, and crown chakras are open.

My life was changed by yoga about a year ago when it became the main catalyst for me to overcome anorexia. Ever since I have been practicing daily and graduated a 200 hour teacher training one month ago. I am constantly learning about yoga and about myself in an attempt to spread the benefits of such a holistic practice.