293: Eating Disorder Recovery & Yoga with Vivian Selles293: Eating Disorder Recovery & Yoga with Vivian Selles

Eating disorders are a serious condition that can even be life threatening or fatal in some cases yet we may not always recognize that someone is experiencing an eating disorder. Globally, 9% of the world population are affected by eating disorders and this number is increasing each year. How can yoga teachers support people with eating disorders? Vivian Selles has some insights.

Vivian is an experienced registered yoga teacher and Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider (ERYT-200/YACEP). She teaches full-time in eating disorder recovery centers in Charlotte, NC, and uses her practice and teachings to cultivate positive change in the yoga community. As a yoga teacher, her intention is to create and hold safer, accessible spaces for people to connect to the practice and show up as they are. Vivian has also co-founded a local yoga coalition for equality. 

Vivian explains why yoga teachers should avoid talking about how much or what to eat, and how this can feed into harmful diet culture. Vivian also shares many useful and practical tips around the language we use in our yoga classes, including how to avoid cues that may demonize certain body parts, excluding competitive and comparison language, as well as how we can make our language and cues more invitational and open-ended for students. Vivian highlights our scope of practice as yoga teachers in supporting people in eating disorder recovery and how having a referral team can help too.

Key Takeaways:

[4:38]  Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Vivian Selles.

[8:10] What does Vivian do and who does she do it for?

[10:39] What is diet culture?

“Diet culture is a system of beliefs that upholds a paradigm that equates thinness with being healthy and more morally virtuous.” ~ Vivian Selles

[11:16] Dominant culture equates thinness with being healthy. How does this show up in yoga classes?

[13:20] Shannon and Vivian discuss cues and language that we use in yoga spaces that could demonize certain body parts.

[15:12] What does Vivian wish all yoga teachers knew going into a yoga class?

“Considering your own internal experience is a starting point in terms of how we can be empathetic towards others.” ~ Vivian Selles

[17:46] Vivian highlights some specific language she avoids and some of her preferred cueing options.

“I exclude a lot of language that encourages perfection or encourages competition.” ~ Vivian Selles

[21:52] A lot of this starts with us doing our own internal work.

“How are my internal belief systems upholding diet culture?” ~ Vivian Selles

[31:04] Messages you might get in the yoga world around what you should eat, how you should move, what you should look like, etc do not align with yoga philosophy.

[34:19] Shannon pops in with a question from a member of the Connected Yoga Teacher Facebook group about OfferingTree.

[37:24] How does Vivian focus on yoga philosophy when teaching yoga?

[44:07] If you are interested in learning more, Vivian has some resources to recommend.

[48:52] Who are some other people who can offer support and are crucial for people in recovery?

[53:09] Our students can also become our teachers.

[58:11] Learn more about Vivian and connect with her via her website and social media.

[59:58] Shannon shares her key takeaways from this conversation with Vivian.


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