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?
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.