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When your child who has an eating disorder is feeling anxious, help bring calm with yoga (downward dog)

woman doing downward dog yoga pose eating disorder relief

We believe it’s useful for parents to have a few yoga poses available to use in times of great stress during their child’s recovery process.

If you have a child who has an eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia or OSFED, there is a high probability that feelings of anxiety are a major trigger for eating disorder behaviors. Ideally, your child should have a number of tools available for managing anxiety, and one of those tools may be a few simple yoga poses that can help ground and center your child.

It’s wonderful when we can participate in full-length yoga classes, but sometimes a single pose is all we need to reconnect with our grounded base of strength.

Downward facing dog helps facilitate deep belly breathing which calms the nervous system and relieves anxiety, fatigue, overwhelm, and stress. It can also create positive energy in the body to counter-balance anxious, negative energy that can lead to eating disorder behaviors as coping mechanisms. By adding some visualization to the pose, you can help your child process anxiety in a healthy, healing manner.

Downward Dog with Visualization and Release

  1. Begin on your hands and knees, and set the intention of calming your anxiety by using your body as a conduit for release.
  2. Remember that anxiety is just negative energy that, when contained, builds feelings of fear. Through movement, you can allow the energy to move through you rather than keeping it stuck inside your body and mind.
  3. Spread your fingers wide and press firmly into the floor as you curl your toes and lift your hips to create a V shape with your body.
  4. Lift up through your pelvis and visualize anxiety streaming out of your body. If the anxiety is “cold,” it may fall down through your fingers, toes, and the crown of your head, where it can curl up like a snake in a cave under the earth. Alternatively, if the anxiety is “hot,” you may find that it wants to release up and through your shoulders, spine or pelvis, where it can disappear into the atmosphere like a dragon’s steamy breath.
  5. Breathe in and out deeply and calmly in a soothing rhythm as you continue your visualization of the energy flow.
  6. It’s OK if tears flow – that’s a sign that you are releasing! Let them flow.
  7. Hold the pose for at least 3 minutes.
  8. Gently return to your hands and knees and repeat the pose or try another pose if anxiety is still present.

Practice this pose together with your child any time that anxiety and stress are making eating disorder behaviors more prevalent. Or, if you prefer, sit next to your child and talk them through the process of releasing negative energy from their body.

Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.

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