Eating Disorders in the Yoga and Kink Communities
Here at Learning to Fly with Tangled Wings, we approach Annamaya Kosha, the food sheath, through our practice of the earth element. As reinforced throughout many yogic texts, the idea is that all beings are made from food. Essentially, we are what we eat. When we pass, our bodies will eventually decompose and become food for something else.
For those that struggle with body image and eating disorders, the topic of food and our relationships with our bodies can be quite tricky. In the yoga and kink communities, participants and practitioners are empowered through notions of identity. In both practices, we are offered extensive palettes of movement, self-expression, and sensory exploration with and through our bodies.
So too, in both, are the tricky-to-navigate scripts of social conditioning in the way we relate to and treat our bodies. As is common in group perspective landscapes, upon first glance, we are offered a binary of perspectives:
Pride parades, fabulous self-expression, strikingly beautiful authenticity of all the glorious bits of being human.
Shame of our body’s organic nature, and hesitancy to approach with curiosity toward exploring their pleasure.
In gross generality, the cultural norms toward body size are, at best, confusing.
Christopher Ryan explores a catalog of historical views on human sexuality in his book, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships. Ryan discusses the historical origins of human sexual behavior, the continually evolving views on what it means to be “sexy”, and how that differs in cultural contexts around the globe. The book also explores the energies associated and attributed to attraction, gender(s), and culturally practiced sexual and social customs in their varying definitions. Throughout history, the meanings of what it means to be sexy and attractive have, and continue to, change!
Body Image in Yoga Studios
Last month, we worked on developing inclusive cueing practices as a yoga instructor and becoming better aware of some of the conditioned assumptions that are present in the yoga studio.
Some ways body size currently imposes its subscribed heteronormative views in the yoga studio may include:
- Studios only offering select sizing in retail items such as mats and apparel
- Yoga instructors not adequately adjusting their cueing practices to holistically guide bodies of all sizes
Body Image in Rope Scenes
Better Bondage for Every Body, a book by Evie Vane, narrows in on some of the more prevalent behavioral scripts present in the rigger community and the social stigmatization and applied cultural expectations toward rope bottoms to have a particular body size – namely, a small, flexible, able, female one. In the book, she discusses matters of perspective and discrimination toward rope bottoms that are curvy, male, older, gender non-conforming, and those with special physical conditions.
In the kink and rigger communities, microaggressions toward body size may present themselves as:
- Rope tops only bringing just enough or appropriately gauged rope to tie smaller-bodied bottoms
- Refusing to adapt particular ties for varying bodies
Cultivating a Healing Space
Yoga studios and kinky scenes and environments can be difficult terrain to navigate from a body image perspective. While the environment to celebrate body diversity is shifting towards a more inclusive atmosphere, we’ve still got a long way to go to achieve that healthy homeostasis. As a community, we have a lot of pain and past traumas to heal. In the yoga, kink, BDSM, LGBTQ+, and GSRD communities, I hope to contribute to an environment of inclusivity and healing expression. Cultivating a sustainable mind and positive body image is a lifelong practice. Developing that sense of inclusion in yoga and kinky spaces is key to developing our communities.
Blessings to my journey, and to yours.