Yoga for Eating Disorders
In this pilot study, yoga practice combined with outpatient eating disorder treatment were shown to decrease anxiety, depression, and body image disturbance without negatively impacting weight
There is a lot of fear in the psychiatric community about offering yoga to in- or out-patients with an eating disorder diagnosis. A lot of the fear appears to centre on ideas around people potentially losing weight or engaging in yoga to excess, to the detriment of their physical health.
It is indeed the case that care is required when planning and offering yoga to people with eating disorders. Electrolyte imbalances in the body (which are very common in both anorexia and bulimia) can make physical activity dangerous, as can heart arrhythmias, which are again very common in this population. Yet, if the person has been supported to reach a state of physiological equilibrium, there appears to be no reason to withhold the practice of yoga from them, as this new study very usefully highlights. (It is also very worth noting that even people with physiological compromises can engage in many aspects of yoga such as some forms of pranayama, most forms of yogic meditation and even moving through the asanas in their minds and hearts without moving the physical body).
In this pilot study, yoga practice combined with outpatient eating disorder treatment were shown to decrease anxiety, depression, and body image disturbance without negatively impacting weight. Researchers concluded that preliminary results suggest yoga to be a promising adjunct treatment strategy, along with standard multidisciplinary care.