Who is Yoga to Cope For, Anyway?

Hi all, so nice to meet you!

I’m Michelle, and I couldn’t be more honored to serve as a Yoga to Cope board member and YTC podcast co-host. When I’m not working as a freelance writer (and/or hustling for more work because #freelancelife is unstable AF), I’m practicing yoga, interviewing amazing women for my own podcast, and asking my 10-year-old niece what’s cool so I don’t accidentally become old.

When Kala first told me about her idea for this organization, I knew I wanted to be involved in any way possible — whether that meant pitching her story to magazines, offering moral support, or telling every stranger on the street about what an important cause this is (sorry not sorry to all the confused people I’ve bombarded with YTC’s mission statement). When she asked me to come onboard in a more official capacity, I was stoked — but honestly, a little concerned.

Call it self-doubt or call it imposter syndrome — whatever I was feeling was rooted in the fact that I didn’t feel like a legit representative for “trauma” healing because I hadn’t experienced the kind of earth shattering devastation Kala describes in episode 1 of the podcast.

But as the organization has blossomed from a nugget of an idea in Kala’s brain to this living, breathing, real-deal non-profit that’s already making an impact on people’s lives, I’ve eased into my role and feel it’s important to talk about that initial hesitation I felt in case it prevents anyone from exploring or utilizes the free services we offer at YTC.

I spent years of my eating disorder adamantly denying that I had an eating disorder. This isn’t unique; people living with EDs and other mental health issues often downplay or completely disregard their symptoms and their suffering. Aside from the fact that most of us are used to minimizing our achievements and our distress (think: “oh I’m fine, thanks!” between gritted teeth), we’re all exposed to pretty extreme, specific examples of mental health conditions in the media. I’ve written a lot about the persistent mythology around eating disorders — so many people (doctors included) still assume that only white, affluent, young women struggle with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and more. That’s simply untrue, and research proves it.

The consequence of all these pervasive stereotypes is that we become conditioned to define “real” trauma by super strict standards: it only “counts” as anorexia if the person is on the brink of death, or it’s only “real” depression if the person has experienced a horrific event that triggered it. That kind of thinking keeps people sick and suffering because it perpetuates the notion that you have to look, act, or be a certain way to “deserve” help.

Nope. You’re a human being and you experience periods of light and periods of dark — we all do. And when you’re going through one of those “darker seasons of life” as Kala so eloquently calls them, you 100%, no questions asked warrant unconditional support and access to tools that will help you cope.

So, all that said: if you’re not sure whether YTC is for you, it is. If you’ve never done yoga, YTC is for you. If you think your life is pretty much perfect and emotion regulation and relaxation techniques aren’t for you...guess what! YTC is for you. I’m so excited to welcome all of you to this incredible organization and can’t wait for what’s to come!

Xo, Michelle