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RELATEDHow Yoga Helped Me With Disordered Eating and Body Image

I have always been hungry for life and craved the best experiences it had to offer me. But at 18 years old, I was confronted with an unfamiliar, frightening type of hunger.

Having woken from a coma after a blood clot caused my stomach to explode, I vaguely recall a doctor standing above me, telling me I had no stomach anymore, I could not eat or drink now, and he had no clue if or when I’d ever be able to again—this turned into over three years unable to eat or drink.

An Unexplained Hunger

And suddenly my hunger ran deep—a helplessness in a world of uncertainty where childhood dreams and goals were replaced with the drive to survive. I was hungry for control of my life again, and answers.

There was no “road map” to recovery for me, just the monotony and angst of wondering when I’d ever be able to even lick a single ice cube. Because I had no control or crystal ball, this was merely a wish rather than a goal.

Life became scary, surreal—I could pick up food, smell it, feel it warm in my hands, but was forbidden to put it in my mouth, knowing that this old, familiar friend was now poison to my now-alien body, covered in bags, tubes, and adhesives.

I felt stuck in a routine that was out of my control, a pawn in a dangerous game. My new goal: getting through.

A Will to Thrive, Not Just Survive

Credit: Amy Oestreicher

I then made a promise to myself—as long as I was going to be hungry, I wanted to keep my old hunger alive: to thrive, not just survive.

I refused to feel like a sick hospital patient tied up with tubes, bags, and wires. Even though this was my physical reality, I fought against the feeling that I was weak or less than any other person who could walk, live, and eat freely. I did anything I could to reclaim my identity.

With an intense desire to let the world know that I was still eager to make that imprint on the world, I couldn’t allow myself to listen to doctors who thought I was too weak to do anything but lie in bed.

A month after being discharged from the ICU, I starred in musicals, taught preschool, learned karate, learned to cook, founded a chocolate business, became a mixed media artist mounting art shows all around the state, and appeared on The Today Show.

This kicked off my writing and starring in my own one-woman autobiographical musical, and eventually led to my falling in love with yoga…

An Empowering Discovery

After 27 surgeries, I struggled to rehabilitate myself. Then, I discovered yoga. Yoga not only helped me build up my physical body again; it gave me the peace of mind that I needed to get through such a difficult period in my life.

It was a way to feel centered in my body and find a place of comfort within myself. I was able to go inside and meditate whenever my circumstances felt too difficult. Yoga gave me hope, endurance, perseverance, and determination, and it continues to empower me every day.

I want to teach others and share with them the joy that yoga has given me. I feel like I was put through the tests and trials that I endured for a reason, and that reason is to help heal and teach others, sharing the blessings that I have been given.

Through yoga, I hope to keep learning, growing, and evolving. I hope to receive more knowledge on my yoga practice, find a sense of community among my peers, and gain strength in challenging poses. Mainly, I want to learn how to spread my joy of yoga to others and gain insight.

I feel as though I have been unexpectedly betrayed by my own body, tested, dehumanized, and then eventually put back together—but differently, like a mosaic.

Making My Mark on the World

Throughout the struggles, I have always kept that spark of hope in the back of my throat, that I’d be able to share my story, that I have survived this trauma for a reason: to reach out to the world, like I once did as a performer, offering something much more than entertainment to my audience.

After this detour, I still just want to give to the world, and now I can do so in a deeper sense. Now I know that my role in life is still to be that same passionate performer I once aspired to be as a child—only now I have the even greater gift of a genuine story to tell.

At 27, I still hunger to make my mark on the world, perform, finish college, and not let nine years of medical complications and frustrations separate me from my dream of education, connection, and spiritual fulfillment.

I will still get there, perhaps by different means, or even a different end. Now with satisfaction in my body, real nourishment flowing through me, and a true appreciation of little daily blessings,anything is possible.

Hunger has taught me so much and will always be my intimate companion as I continue to crave inspiration, opportunities to build my legacy, and everything life can offer me.

Life has taught me that goals aren’t always accomplished…which can be a blessing in disguise.

MORE YOGA STORIES HEREYOGA STORIES I’m Nora, 25, And I Had A Stroke When I Was 23

Thank you hunger and thank you life for giving me the opportunity to discover new goals I didn’t realize I could achieve, or even wanted in the first place. You have given my life unexpected meaning by breaking the bonds of expectation.

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