The person you see now, every day jumping around in class and eating almost everything, is currently at her happiest and healthiest.
I had a severe eating disorder 4 years ago. The picture on the left showed the days when I was in Polytechnic. I made sure I exercised at least two hours and consumed less than 10 food items every single day, all for someone I loved then whom said I was too fat. Later, when I managed to lose 8 kg, I did not realize I lost much more. I lost what it meant to be called a woman. I lost quite a bit of hair as they thinned out so much, I missed my period for nearly one year, lost my two best friends called ‘breasts’, and surprisingly, my self-esteem. I rejected outings with my friends just to exercise and restrain myself from social eating. I was so thin, and some friends then joked that they can stick a straw and drink water from my collarbones.
After going through so much and losing my friends one by one, I thought I had sacrificed a lot for the one I loved. Ironically enough, it never lasted because I ended up losing so much weight, he said he felt like he was hugging a lamppost instead. Upset, feeling cheated and totally heartbroken, I ate all that I wanted. University started around then too, and the late nights made me indulge in junk food even more.
Needless to say, my weight rebounded. The photo on the right was taken 2 years back, when I had to wear baggy clothes to cover my tummy and weight gain. I still wore shorts because I could not deal with the fact that I was putting on so much weight, I had to convince myself that I was still fine, that I could still pull the shorts up my thighs. During that time, I ate with my emotions and within a year or so, I put on 10 more kg, even heavier than I was before. I was elated when my period finally restarted, and I no longer had to eat hormone-regulating pills. But I was not happy. I was feeling fat, sluggish and totally wasted. I started doing yoga more often, and stuck to it because I loved how I feel after every session. I did begin to shed off some weight and gain some strength. The calmness I felt during yoga was something I never got off the mat, which gradually made me realise how harshly I was treating my body in the past.
In this 200hr training course, after getting to know others and learning about their stories, I felt I was lucky to not have suffered from severe body issues having put myself under such undue stress previously. The body is such a precious temple that we have only for this lifetime. I also learnt much more about body anatomy, about the type of food we eat and how to eat right for a healthy body.
Right now, I may be heavier, meatier and rounder compared to when I was at my lowest weight, but I am undoubtedly happier and healthier. At least I do not have to worry about breaking my own bones when I fall in inversions or arm balances. I also do not have to worry about whether I was getting regular periods, or whether I had to stuff tissue into my bra just to look more normal and lady-like in my clothes.
It is true that when you have gone through suffering, you are more compassionate towards others and can truly understand how they are feeling. Compassion is such an important characteristic of a yoga teacher, not only when guiding total beginners into the practice, but also in living the yoga off the mat.
I do admit that I still stare at my jiggly bits now and then, wondering when will they ever leave me one day, but then I remind myself that I am blessed to be in relatively good health, and armed with the knowledge and means to make it better.
For that, I am already very thankful.