Today Caro shares with us her personal story.How she dealt with her diagnose: Bulimia Nervos, and how Yoga teaches her everyday to lover herself. Enjoy another inspiring woman sharing from heart.
How Yoga finally made me love myself
by Caroline Hopp
The first time I tried yoga was during my first treatment in mental hospital in 2013. I suffered from an eating disorder called Bulimia Nervosa since 2012 after leaving home for university. It is an awful disease and at that time I was so ashamed of having it. I couldn’t believe that this was really happening to me.
All my life I thought I was living a pretty normal life. I didn’t realize that I had been wearing a mask all the time, trying to hide my emotions and what was really going on inside of me. Bulimia made me acknowledge that there is more below my surface.
Along with the eating disorder I developed a bunch of other symptoms or behavior patterns. I was working out as crazy to burn calories, to be thin and to get even thinner. I was drinking alcohol 3 or 4 times a week to numb myself. I didn’t want to feel all of the pain and the suffering. It was too much on me. But honestly, the worst part of it was hating myself. I hated myself so badly, I couldn’t even look into the mirror. I really believed that I deserved all the bad things that had happened to me and even worse. I thought I wasn’t lovable at all, I was constantly worrying that my boyfriend was cheating on me, because I couldn’t understand what he saw in me. Why was he even with me?
I hated myself so badly, I couldn’t even look into the mirror.
In the beginning, I did not like yoga at all. The class I attended in mental hospital was super slow and restorative. It was not sweaty or exhausting, it was relaxing and calming. So, no chance here for me to burn a lot of calories or (and that’s the important part) to distract me from my thoughts and feelings. That was so hard. But I always wanted to recover so badly and on some level I felt that these yoga classes helped me somehow. I couldn’t define what that was at that time, but deep down inside of me I felt that something shifted. So, I kept going. Back home I decided to attend a yoga class once a week. It was a soft Hatha class which I used as a recovery for my usual tough workout plans.
Slowly I was feeling better. Not particularly because of the yoga. I made progress in my therapy and the overeating and purging appeared more infrequently. But I still couldn’t get rid of them totally and the self-hate was my daily companion. I was desperate. I looked online to find help and much like I am writing about my experiences and what has helped me now, I was reading articles about girls who defeated their eating disorder by changing to a vegan diet. I had nothing to lose here, so I tried it. And it worked. I don’t know how, but it worked. The day I changed to that vegan diet, my whole mindset shifted. With every bite I took, I felt like I was doing something good for my body. No regrets anymore about eating too much or getting fat. No more overeating. No more purging. That was almost 4 years ago.
Without the symptoms of my eating disorder, I finally had the mental capacity to focus more on my studies and to accomplish some huge steps in therapy. Suddenly, everything was happening so fast. It was a rush. Time flew and out of a sudden there was the day when my therapist said to me: “You don’t need me anymore. You’re doing good on your own.”
It also created room for more yoga. I started to do it more often. Then I went to a class daily. Then I started to practice on my own. Every day, I would get on my mat even if it was only for 5 minutes. Man, it was so good for me! I bought a travel mat since I was planning to travel in South America for 3 month with my best friend (who is also into yoga).
In South America, yoga was my (almost) daily companion. And then a further blow of fate happened. I got an abscess on my back, doctors had to cut it open and I had to go to the hospital every second day. I was stuck in Cusco. I couldn’t go hiking, I couldn’t travel further. I had a mental breakdown, I was so desperate and I was blaming myself. All that self-hate came up again, I was crying, I couldn’t understand it, but the only thought in my head was: I deserve this.
…the only thought in my head was: I deserve this
My bad thinking patterns came back. It was a rough time. My best friend moved on, and I stayed in Cusco to spend some time on my own. It was an ordeal, but I still managed not to relapse into my old eating behavior.
I asked my doctor, if I could do some yoga and she said yes. So, I went to a really small Yoga studio called “Yoga Room Cusco”. And it was my life saver. Kat the former owner is an incredible teacher, I took 5 or 6 classes with her and she touched my heart. Her classes where the highlights of my days, my light at the end of the tunnel. I felt better and I truly believe that that also helped to make my abscess heal faster. Just this one week of yoga shifted so much in me. I wanted my daily practice back. And I got back to it. Unfortunately, Kat closed down the Yoga Room and moved back to the US.
Back in Germany, there was no way that I could imagine my life without my daily dose of yoga. I was craving it. I soaked it all up like a sponge. It released my emotions. It connected me with my inner self and soon practicing in the studio wasn’t enough. I needed more.
So, I decided to do a yoga teacher training in Panama with my awesome trainer Kaytee. It was one of the best and scariest decisions of my life and since I believe that everything happens for a reason, I know that the universe brought us together. I went there to finally heal myself. I wanted to learn how to accept and love myself the way that I am. Truly. Honestly. Deeply.
I cried almost every day.
Arriving in beautiful Boquete, Kaytee told me that no one else had signed up for the training this time. So, it was only her and me. That scared the shit out of me. But it was the plan of the universe and it was the right one. Being the only one forced me to open myself, to truly make progress, to work on my issues. I couldn’t hide. It was like 4 weeks of intense therapy. I cried almost every day. I confronted myself with my demons. With my past. I was still clinging to it, to my eating disorder. And if I would let that go, what would be left? Who would I be? What would my life be filled with, if I was not constantly worrying about my body, my food intake or how to hate myself? I had to let the past go to figure it out.
And I did.
It was not a conscious decision. It just happened along the process of Yoga. It changed my whole being tremendously.
I felt so much bliss in my life like never before
At the end of the training, I was truly loving and accepting myself, I felt forgiveness for everything I’ve ever done to myself and others, I had an open heart and just felt so much love for everything and everyone around me. I felt so much bliss in my life like never before. I was feeling whole on my own. There were no holes anymore I had to fill with food or the love and attention of other people. No regrets about the past. Just love and peacefulness. I had never expected such a huge transformation, but it was the one I needed so urgently.
Thanks to Kaytee, my wonderful trainer, who also opened herself to me, to fight with me and who is now one of my best friends and soulmates.
The path of yoga helped me to connect with the love and light inside of me. The love I have for every part of me and my body, the love I have for everyone around, the love I have for the Universe and life. I learned to love. The most important lesson everyone should learn in life.
Yoga is a very powerful tool to connect with your inner truth
But as beautiful as all of this may sound. It’s still hard work. What I see now, 2 years after the teacher training, is that it was only my initiation. The real work began afterwards being back in Germany in my daily routine. I have been struggling the last 2 years, to maintain the self love is hard work. It’s something you have to commit yourself to on a daily basis. Otherwise it won’t work. So please don’t think I’m not suffering or struggling anymore. I still do.
Yoga is a very powerful tool to connect with your inner truth. I started walking on this path a long time ago and through yoga I experienced really fast progress. Still I’m walking on this path every single day and I still have to put a lot of work in it. There are days when I feel down, deep down below the surface. But no matter how deep I’m falling, I now know that there is always light at the end of the tunnel and that there is something positive in EVERY SINGLE DAY. That is the gift I received from yoga and it is also the gift I want to share with everyone I know.