Last week, we got to hear Sprout Yoga founder Maggie’s Real Story about her own struggle with food—and how yoga helped her get better. Here, she shares a breathing exercise that she says helps her yoga students connect with their bodies and calm down, so they don’t need to turn to overeating. You can do this move anywhere, anytime. Thanks again Maggie!
1. First, sit in a chair, or cross-legged on the floor and align your hips over your sitz bones (the boney parts of your tush), then your ribs over your hips, and then your shoulders over your ribs. That lets you have space in your belly to fill with air. It also brings your shoulders out of the slump/curl that we can sometimes take when we feel like we need to protect ourselves from the world.
2. Now, breathe all the way into your belly, as if you were filling it like a balloon. “You know how you say you have ‘food baby’ after eating too much?,” asks Maggie. “So have ‘air baby.’ No one cares if your belly is “big” so you can relax and stop holding it in so tight.” During this exercise, you’re supposed to really push it out there!
3. Last, exhale as much as you can as slowly as you can, drawing your belly button all the way in, up and back as if you wanted to tuck it into the arch in your ribs.
Why does this help emotional or binge eaters? “From my experience, I compulsively ate when I was in a state of panic,” Maggie says. “Anxiety plays a large role in disordered eating with studies now showing 40% to 60% overlap between anxiety disorders and eating disorders. So if you can tamper down on anxiety, you can tamper down on the compulsive eating.”