I didn't always hate my body.
The shift from gratitude to despise happened gradually. Comment by comment, a magazine headline here and there, a growing belly, slowly turned into a rigid exercise routine with one goal in mind: to mold my body into something other than it was.
My body was no longer a vessel to experience the world, but a flawed hindrance.
This struggle lasted for years and developed into severely disordered eating. I ran and ran and ran, until I was injured, sick, exhausted, and completely disconnected from my body. I pulsed between restrictive eating, binging, and purging. I saw various therapists on and off with little success. One particular doctor told me I needed to stop running away from my body and start coming home to my body. At the time I was confused, but now, a decade later, I understand.
I began practicing yoga initially to heal injuries from many miles of running (so that I could go back to doing just that). But the more I practiced, the more I wanted to care for myself in a nurturing way. Yoga was not a magic panacea, but with time and practice, I gained a greater readiness to break free from my eating disorder and heal my compulsive relationship with exercise.
There were, however, times when my yoga practice was unbalanced and goal-oriented. I was overly focused on how cool the poses looked. I was cleansing and dieting because my yoga teacher did. In hindsight, I recognize that this way of practicing yoga was not in alignment with my path of recovery, nor with my authentic voice.
With help from support groups, therapists, and gentle, nurturing yoga teachers, I slowly began to realize the true magic of yoga—to be present in my body, no matter the size of my belly or the "level" of the pose I practiced.
A committed, mindful yoga practice was an integral part of my full recovery process, because it finally connected me to my breath, the intelligence of my body, and the voice inside me that wanted to heal all along. As time went on, the slower I practiced, the deeper my recovery became. After so many years of trying to run away, I finally knew what it meant to come home to my body.
About Sophia Holly
Sophia is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher, a body image activist, and an Eat Breathe Thrive Facilitator. Through her classes and workshops, Sophia confidently empowers her students with yoga-based tools for healing from within and cultivating self acceptance. In addition to teaching yoga and shifting the consciousness of the way people view their bodies, Sophia enjoys singing (kirtan, karaoke, in the shower), hanging out with friends and family, and practicing spontaneity.