Tag Archives: yoga for eating disorders

#OccupyYouAreBeautiful: Why I’m Camped Out On A Rooftop Yoga Mat

Right now I’m sitting on a yoga mat on the rooftop of 2309 Main Street in Santa Monica, California. Just below me is a giant red wall painted with the words “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL,” and there are two ten-foot tall inflatable dancing man balloons blowing in the wind beside me. There are men and women walking by on the sidewalk below, a beautiful community garden across the street. The ocean is just visible in the distance. This is #OccupyYouAreBeautiful.

Between today and Wednesday, September 18, this yoga mat will be my home. I will stay here all day and all night — I will eat here, sleep here, and I will be joined by yoga teachers, musicians, speakers, and other members of the community.

#OccupyYouAreBeautiful is a public demonstration of solidarity with people who struggle with food and body image issues on all ends of the spectrum. Together, we are taking a stand – for life, for happiness, and for the right for all people to feel beautiful in the bodies they inhabit.

The statistics around eating disorders in this country are discouraging. Nearly 24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders, and millions of others struggle with food and body image issues at a sub-clinical level. This disease kills nearly half a million people every year – daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, and spouses. That’s not okay. 32-year-olds shouldn’t be dying of starvation. 8-year-olds shouldn’t be vomiting to lose weight. This is not the kind of society I want to raise my kids in.

Over the past several years, I’ve built my life and career around helping others recover from this illness. I believe yoga can be a game-changer in the fight against eating disorders, and more importantly, I believe it can help shift the sociocultural dynamics that contribute to eating disorders to begin with. Yoga teaches critical skills for developing a healthy relationship with food and one’s body (which many of us never learn as children), and it can equip those who struggle with these issues with skills that pharmaceuticals, talk therapy, and other traditional forms of treatment simply do not provide.

That’s why I developed Yoga for Eating Disorders — to teach people who struggle with eating disorders practical tools for using yoga in their recovery. Specifically, the program teaches yoga-derived exercises for tuning into hunger and fullness signals, coping with difficult emotions, and learning to relate to the body as an ally rather than an enemy. The average cost of eating disorder treatment is $1,250 per day, and even at that rate over half of patients relapse after discharge. Eating disorders — from anorexia to binge eating — take a huge toll on our healthcare system. Yoga is a cost-effective way to teach those who struggle with these issues skills for long term recovery, potentially shortening treatment, reducing relapse, and ultimately saving lives.

On July 30th (my 24th birthday), I launched a crowd-funding campaign with the ambitious goal of raising $50K to take Yoga for Eating Disorders to treatment centers around the country at no charge, collect data for an evidence based study on its effectiveness in treatment, and offer pro-bono talks about eating disorder prevention at local schools in each city where the program is offered. We’ve raised almost $30K so far, but with only 4 days left in the campaign it’s time for something a little more drastic. It’s time to Occupy.

Inspired by my friend Will Baxter of the Don’t Let Will Die campaign, I am demonstrating my solidarity with eating disorder sufferers around the world by taking a stand. I invite you to take a stand with me – for life, for freedom, and for the belief that all people have the right to feel beautiful in the bodies they inhabit.

With less than 100 hours left in our campaign, I need your help. I will not let this campaign fail. This yoga mat saved my life once, and I’m not getting off it until other have the same opportunity.

Stand with me by donating today!

You can stand in solidarity with Chelsea and #OccupyYouAreBeautiful by making a donation, sharing this campaign with your friends and family, commenting on this page and visiting her at 2309 Main Street in Santa Monica, California. There is no reason this has to be the only #OccupyYouAreBeautiful. Host one in your own community!

Former Intent Editor Chelsea Roff Launches Indiegogo Campaign to Research Yoga for Eating Disorders!

Setting sail from Intent Blog, former editor Chelsea Roff is now pursuing a path that takes her deep into the heart of her passion: Yoga as a tool for treating eating disorders.

Chelsea’s own background has shown her the power of yoga in transforming body image and bringing about whole-person wellness. Today she launches an Indiegogo campaign to raise $50,000 in order to embark on an in-depth research project to compile the data necessary to bring this method of treatment to public awareness.

Intent: This is an amazing campaign! Can you say a bit more about your inspiration for this project?

Chelsea: Thank you! Yes, of course. As many Intent readers know, I struggled with a very severe eating disorder when I was young. Anorexia nearly took my life. Fortunately I was helped by an amazing team of medical professionals, but while treatment did help me recover physically — I still hated my body, was plagued by self-deprecating thoughts, and lacked the resources to step fully into life.

I left the hospital in despair. I wanted to live, but the eating disorder still haunted me. Relapse seemed  inevitable.

But then I found yoga. Or yoga found me.

Yoga gave me a path. It gave me a future. It introduced me to joy and freedom I never thought possible.

The statistics around eating disorders in this country are discouraging. Nearly  24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders, and only one in ten ever receive treatment. This disease kills nearly half a million people every year — daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, and spouses. That’s not okay. This disease is NOT incurable!

My inspiration for this project is a desire to share the incredible gift that was given to me during my time of need. Eating disorders destroy lives, hurt families and crush spirits. But they don’t have to. There is a way out, and yoga can be an incredible tool in paving the path to healing.

Intent: How has your own history driven your advocacy work around eating disorders?

Chelsea: I think having experienced first hand how agonizing this disease is — and how AMAZING life is on the other side — I just can’t help but want to give it back.

Eating disorders are terrible. Having anorexia is like having a demon inside you that controls your thoughts, manipulates your emotions, and isolates you from everyone and everything you ever loved or cared about. Many people think eating disorders are driven by a wish to be skinny or get attention — I assure you that is not the case. Eating disorders are biological illnesses, triggered by a combination of genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors. No one chooses this illness.

I think my history gives me a combination of empathy for those suffering and hope for their future. I know there’s a way out of this illness, and I hope I can offer a few tools to help others get their lives back from this disease as well.

Intent: After experiencing yoga as such a powerful tool for recovery, are you eager to share this method of treatment to others suffering from eating disorders?

Chelsea: Absolutely!

Over the past several years, I’ve put a lot of thought into which elements of the yoga practice were helpful in my recovery and which weren’t so much (I think some aspects of yoga culture can actually exacerbate an eating disorder). I’ve developed a program called Yoga for Eating Disorders™ that teaches patients practical tools for learning how to tune into hunger and fullness signals, cope with difficult emotions, and relate to their body as an ally rather than an enemy. Without those skills, it’s nearly impossible to be successful in recovery.

Intent: That’s amazing! How can others get involved?

Chelsea: Please support our campaign! Here are a few ways people can help:

1. Donate to the campaign – today! Every little bit counts – even $5! If you’re going to contribute, please don’t wait! We’re trying to reach our first 15K in the first week.  If people see the campaign is successful, they’ll donate too.

2. Like,  Comment on, or Share our IndieGoGo page.

3. Tell a yoga studio in your city about the campaign. For the first 12 studios that make a tax-deductible $5,000 donation, I’ll teach my 3-day Yoga, Food, & Body Image Intensive at no cost to the studio. The program is priced at $300 per participant, so 17 registrations will earn all the money back, and 30 registrations will generate $9,000 in revenue.

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