The Healing Power of Yoga in Eating Disorder Recovery

Guest post by Rachel Happ

I never made that one time choice to recover from my eating disorder. I never had that “aha moment” I think so many people who are struggling hope they have. What I did have though, was a series of small inspirations along my path that showed me that recovery was something I wanted to try, and maybe even achieve. One of those inspirations was yoga.

I had always liked yoga, ever since I can remember. It was something I was just intuitively drawn too. Later though, in the depths of my eating disorder, it was something I lost. My thought process was so skewed. I would allow it to be an occasional treat, but only if I had succeeded at something first and had “deserved” it. It is hard for me today to even think that I once lived like that.

In one of my treatment stays at the hospital, a really gentle yoga session was introduced once a week. It was so comforting. As horrible as everything seemed and felt at the time, I knew that every Tuesday, at least I could have my yoga. When I was able to be at home and take classes at the local studio, yoga became even more special. It became a way to nurture and take care of myself when I had spent years doing the complete opposite.

Struggling with an eating disorder, I was so out of sorts with my body. I had no idea. I used to say that if you put a line of ten girls in front of me, I wouldn’t be able to pick myself out even if I tried. As I slowly made the decision to truly put authentic energy into the recovery process, yoga became a source of strength and knowledge. I had to go through a significant weight gain process, which is, as anyone struggling knows, incredibly uncomfortable and scary. Yoga helped me to accept and understand my new physical self. It helped me to reconnect as I slowly became the girl I am today – the girl I am naturally supposed to be – the girl I believe in and trust with every fiber of my being.

As the years passed, yoga became so much more to me than the physical practice. It became my thought process and way of life. It is something I carry with me always because it is an integral part of who I am.

Today, I have been fully recovered for over four years. In doing so, I now know that overcoming an eating disorder is not about gaining weight & physical health. Instead, it is about gaining love. It is about gaining the power of your intuition, your next creative idea, the light in your eyes, the glow in your skin, and the authenticity in your entire being. It is about gratitude, compassion and acceptance. Recovery is about total wellness, it is happiness, and yoga is so a part of that.


 Rachel is an Integrative Designer and Eating Disorder Recovery Speaker & Advocate based in San Francisco. A graduate of Parsons School of Design in NYC, she now focuses on designing services and environments for wellness.Currently, she is working on several projects, one of which is, an online platform aimed at empowering people, starting with yoga teachers, to be successful doing what they love.


Twitter : @rachelhapp

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