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ARTICLE REVIEW

Article Review Alicia. M. Newton Indiana University- Purdue University Fort Wayne

ARTICLE REVIEW

Abstract This paper entails a review of the article Thinking Through the Body: The Conceptualization of Yoga as Therapy for Individuals with Eating Disorders. A detailed summary of the article is provided. A summary of new information found by reviewing the article and how such information can benefit healthcare providers is also provided in this paper. A discussion of personal opinion with regard to the credibility of the article is then offered at the conclusion of the article review. The article was found to be credible as well as beneficial to the healthcare provider.

Key Words: Yoga, eating disorders, treatment.

ARTICLE REVIEW

Article Review Thinking Through the Body: The Conceptualization of Yoga as Therapy for Individuals with Eating Disorders Thinking Through the Body: The Conceptualization of Yoga as Therapy for Individuals with Eating Disorders was written in 2011 by Laura Douglass, a yoga instructor in a residential treatment home in Cambridge Massachusetts. Throughout the article, Ms. Douglass attempts to understand how exactly yoga functions as therapy, specifically for individuals suffering from eating disorders. She focuses on the use of mindful yoga in treatment centers for such individuals and investigates how sociology, neuroscience, and ancient, spiritual texts of yoga are all aspects of mindful yoga. Ms. Douglass explains each of these three disciplines and how they all relate to treating individuals with eating disorders. Ms. Douglass begins the article by stating, Only a few studies support the efficacy of yoga for eating disorders and at least one study has shown that yoga has no effect at all. While this may be true, the article goes on to reveal that many residential programs are beginning to incorporate the use of yoga in treatment plans despite such poor research outcomes. Ms. Douglass states that this is because yoga has been proven as an effective treatment for disorders such as OCD, depression and anxiety which are often closely related with eating disorders. She also states that the current, circulating idea throughout society of the mind-body connection and its importance in healing may also play a large role in the inclusion of yoga in treatment plans. After discussing potential reasons why residential treatment centers are choosing to include yoga as treatment for those suffering from eating disorders, Ms. Douglas goes on to explain what exactly mindful yoga entails. She states, Mindful yoga is primarily interested in

ARTICLE REVIEW

raising an individuals awareness of the patterns of his or her mind; it does this through postures, breathing practices, deep relaxation and concentration techniques. She explains how mindful yoga can help individuals to experience their own, personal mind-body connection. Mindful yoga allows individuals to feel how different thoughts can affect the body physiologically. Learning to pay close attention to body responses and the effects thoughts can have on such body responses can greatly aid those with eating disorders. Ms. Douglass thoroughly explains this experience and her own experiences while teaching yoga classes to mentally ill individuals throughout the entire article. Next, the author discusses the sociology discipline of yoga. She describes how patients in residential treatment homes must regulate their bodies and fight their temptations to compulsively exercise or purge meals during regulated bathroom breaks. She discusses how this unconsciously teaches such individuals that the body, when not controlled, leads to alienation and suffering. With her practice of yoga, Ms. Douglass attempts to change this conception of the body from something which needs to be disciplined, to something that must be cared for, listened to, and communicated with. Another sociological aspect discussed in the article is the dramatic impact of stress on individuals with eating disorders, and how yoga has been proven effective in reducing such stress, as well as learning coping methods for dealing with stress. The biology behind yoga in the clinical setting is next brought to light in this article. The author states that neurobiologists now believe that the mind is an inseparable aspect of the body- a view long held in the yogic traditions of psychology. She describes how Cortisol is produced when an individual is stressed, and how prolonged high Cortisol levels can have many physiological and mental effects such as decreased bone density and poor cognitive function.

ARTICLE REVIEW

She then describes how the body experiences the environment through sensory nerve receptors and how these receptors cause the body to experience sensations in ligaments and bones. She then explains how in a yoga class, instructors help students understand and interpret sensations they experience while performing different postures and that this is called interoceptive learning. Interoceptive learning can aid in anxiety management as well as the prevention of panic attacks which are both often experienced by those with eating disorders. Finally, the author discusses how the ancient principles of yoga are put into practice while treating those with eating disorders. She discusses how the aim of yoga for these patients is to understand the nature of regular human suffering. Ancient yoga principles state that the goal of yoga is to learn to be free in the midst of immense suffering and to nourish, not fix what is wrong. The author describes how this mindset allows her to teach her clients to accept and deal with their sufferings instead of trying to treat and be rid of them. She concludes her thoughts by stating that all three disciplines of yoga are essential when treating individuals with eating disorders and that viewing the practice of yoga in one specific discipline is too simplistic. She describes how her research of the benefits of yoga for those suffering from eating disorders led her to believe that yoga is indeed an important addition to the treatment plans of such individuals. After reading this article, I determined that as a healthcare provider, I could greatly enrich the treatment processes of my patients by encouraging them to practice yoga. The aspects of reducing stress and learning ways in which to cope with suffering instead of simply trying to get rid of the disease or problem greatly interested me. I thought that encouraging chronically ill or severely mentally ill patients to experience yoga could greatly help them learn ways in which to deal with the every day stresses and sufferings they deal with. I also found that all of the

ARTICLE REVIEW

benefits of yoga for treatment offered by the author could be experienced by patients of all ages and with all types of illnesses. The knowledge of the mind-body connection is another important aspect of yoga that I feel could improve the daily lives of all patients I will one day treat. Learning to listen to the body as it undergoes natural processes and to fully engage in experiencing what the body is telling you can be very therapeutic for those with illnesses, or those who are perfectly healthy. All patients I will one day encounter could greatly benefit from this stress-reducing practice, as well as the knowledge of their own mind-body connection. I found all of the information in this article to be very credible. The author stated the lack of the benefits of yoga related specifically to treating those with eating disorders while also providing her own opinions developed while teaching a class of such individuals in a residential treatment setting. All sources are cited and documented throughout the entire article which also led me to believe the article is very credible. Ms. Douglass offers a great deal of personal insight to this specific treatment plan and I found the information she provided to be extremely valuable to healthcare providers. I am fully convinced that yoga as a treatment for individuals with not only eating disorders, but also all other types of illnesses, is an excellent addition to care plans everywhere.