Yoga is growing in popularity – and no wonder. It’s a fun and surprisingly effective way to reduce stress and stay in shape. It turns out that the practice of yoga may be especially beneficial for people with eating disorders. According to a study published in Eating Disorder Review, yoga may be just what the doctor ordered for people who have eating disorders.
In a recent study, researchers randomly divided 54 adolescents and teens with eating disorders into two groups. One group received standard care for eating disorders along with regular yoga sessions, while the other received only standard therapy consisting of regular doctor’s visits and counseling. At the end of 8 weeks, researchers gave both groups standardized tests to monitor their symptoms and their height, weight and BMI.
The results? Neither group experienced significant changes in their BMI, but the group that received the yoga therapy had better scores on an eating disorder assessment and had fewer eating disorder symptoms. The yoga group also felt calmer and less depressed after taking part in yoga therapy.
How Does Yoga Therapy for Eating Disorders Help?
Yoga as therapy for eating disorders has multiple benefits. According to research published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly, people who do yoga have healthier body images and focus less on their physical appearance, which is a positive for people with eating disorders. They’re also less likely to objectify their body and to struggle to live up to the unrealistic standards of perfection that motivate people with eating disorders to eat in an unhealthy manner. Yoga helps to promote acceptance and inner peace, which is beneficial for people with eating disorders.
Researchers made another interesting observation. Women who spend hours doing aerobic exercise are more likely to have disordered eating habits. It’s not uncommon for people with eating disorders to use aerobic exercise as a way to burn calories, further fueling their eating disorder.
Yoga as Therapy for Eating Disorders
Of course, yoga therapy for eating disorders is best combined with other forms of therapy such as nutritional counseling and guidance from professionals knowledgeable about treating eating disorders.
Eating disorders are a challenge to treat, and yoga offers a safe, drug-free approach for relieving stress and building a more positive body image. Hopefully, more doctors and professionals will recognize the benefits of yoga as a therapy for eating disorders.