I’m Going to Bali to do Yoga and Here’s Why

Because of what it’s done for my mind and body

I have always communicated with my body to some extent: as a child and adolescent, my body communicated a “thin identity” that I never actually wanted for myself. When I battled anorexia for six years, I used my body to elicit messages that I was struggling and lost and seeking love. When I began casually dating and finding myself in relationships, I communicated with my body as a way to be perceived “attractive” and desired.

And now, I communicate strength and respect with my body.

It’s been a… journey. To say to least. And it wasn’t until the past year that I discovered yoga. Of course, I knew it existed. Yet, I didn’t know what it meant to exist within my life. My body moves in a very rigid way: weight training. I love it. I thrive in the gym when I’m throwing around weights. I feel strong. And yet, something still felt missing this past year specifically. I stress the mind/body connection so heavily, and yet I couldn’t help but start to feel disconnected from my own body.

If you haven’t taken a yoga class yourself, please, take one. If you haven’t practiced at home, find the space to do so. I love all forms of movement, and learning new ways of moving. And for me, yoga provided me with the “thing” I felt was lacking. It was a sense of peace with my body. It was slowing down. It was simply breathing, and allowing my breaths to guide my movements.

There’s a sense of “letting go” that I’m still trying to accomplish through yoga.

Weight lifting was initially introduced to me as a way to “perfect” my body. Are you ready for something hilarious? There was one point when I actually wanted to complete; when I was so hooked on the idea that I became slave to the gym. It’s walls were my prisons and I wasn’t allowed out until I completed every “mandatory” move on every “mandatory” machine for a very “mandatory” amount of time.

I think I made my point clear, but I’ll say it anyway: weight training became an obsession. It was another form of manipulating my body. No, I wasn’t restricting food anymore. But I was restricting my body from rest and enjoyment. And restricting it mostly from acceptance. Yoga felt different to me during my fist class. I remember walking into the class already thinking (and judging myself): “why can’t I do a fucking handstand yet?”

10 minutes into the class, and the thought had disappeared. Another 30 minutes into the class, and I felt free. I felt free of thoughts, free of judgement, free of expectations. It was an unfamiliar feeling, and one that I want and need more of. After weight training, I feel like a strong little bad ass. But in all honesty, my body can recognize that “I’m done for the day. No more movement.” After yoga, I want more, I crave more, and my body actually has this desire to continue stretching.

You know, I look back on my anorexia recovery process and I think about what it would have been like if I tried yoga. Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference; we won’t really ever know for certain. But, I can’t help but think about how it can be used with those who are in recovery, or even those in maintenance and trying to rebuild their connection with their body. And so, that’s exactly what I intend to do.

Everything I decide to take on is to further my goal. Everything I do is aligned with what I value. And so next on the list: getting certified in yoga so I can continue to advocate for body acceptance.

Because sometimes “logic” doesn’t actually feel logical


Well, I won’t.


Things will work out.



Mom, if you’re reading this blog post, these questions may sound familiar. And hey, I get it. These are some valid concerns. Yet for the first time in my life, I don’t really feel anxious about the uncertainty. I think that certainty is sometimes a natural human want. It’s comforting to “know.” It feels safe there. I can’t help but have this want to NOT actually know for certain how things will pan out. I just have this unfamiliar sense of trust that the decision I made is the right one.

The ironic, and perhaps funny thing is that when I was told I was accepted into the training program, part of me FREAKED the fuck out. “What do you mean I was accepted?” I think a part of me thought that I wouldn’t get accepted (of course, the self-sabotaging self was in full swing here). Because if I didn’t get accepted, then I’d have no decision to make. Easy. Done. Move on and move forward.

Except, I did have a decision to make.

I chatted with a wonderful woman, a teacher in Bali, who said something that made more sense than logic ever could:

“you have to clear out the logical mind-dust that you have. Clear it out. And listen to your heart this time. Because if you listen to your head, it’ll give you 100 reasons NOT to go.”

And so I did. I cleared out the logic that has guided 99% of the decisions I’ve made when it comes to my “life journey.” I’ve lived 99% of my life worried about how my decisions will reflect on me as a person: in other words, how “successful” or “unsuccessful” that I appear to be.  Because sometimes the logic doesn’t actually feel right.

If we can let go of the expectations we perceive others have of us, if we can let go of fear and uncertainty, maybe we’ll end up in a place we really feel we belong.

Because I want to grow

On my first therapy appointment, I looked at my therapist dead in the face and said “I’ve got to be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.” And she stared at me back, blankly, knowing fully that I, too, work in the mental health field, hold the DSM close to my heart, and am a therapist. And so she asked, “what evidence to you have to prove that?” HAH – that’s the most therapist-y response she could’ve given! (Of course, I knew that was coming.)

To answer: because I have an insatiable need for more. Because I have this unstable sense of self that can change even daily. Because even though I have a firm grasp of reality and my behaviors, I often feel I have a less than firm grasp of who I am. Because I have a perpetual feeling of emptiness that can’t seem to be filled by anyone or anything.

And so you might be sitting here questioning (and assuming): “ah, so that’s why she’s going to Bali. To see if an environment can change the way she feels.”

To a certain extent, maybe there’s some truth for that. It took me YEARS to come to this realization: that happiness is not constituted by your environment, the people in your life (specifically significant others), or any external events. Sure, they can add to your happiness; but I’ve come to a place (and recognition) that they alone cannot completely comprise your happiness.

What I do believe, is that external things can provide a platform to elicit change. Take my boyfriend, for an example. No, he didn’t “solve” anything for me or “fix” me. What he did do, however, was provide consistent respect, which helped to change my beliefs about men in relationships. He provided (and provides) consistent love, which in turn, encouraged me to give myself that same sense of love. He provided me with clear communication and honesty, which helped me to use my words versus (irrational) behaviors to get my needs heard and met.

So no, Bali won’t “solve” any emptiness I go through.

But, perhaps it can at least give me a new environment where I can explore my identity all over again. For me, sometimes the best form of self-exploration comes when I remove myself PHYSICALLY from my current self. And in this case, maybe it means separating myself for a little hiatus away from Chicago.

Maybe it means stepping out of the comfort zone I live within and seeing what lies outside of it. There’s beauty in that, or at least I think so. Taking a leap and just trusting that you’ll fall where you need to be.

I’m going to Bali to grow.



Nicole works as a life and wellness coach through Nicole Leigh Coaching (www.nicolenessLPC.com) Nicole strives to empower women with similar struggles to redefine and re-identify themselves, separate from their eating disorder. Through her work, she empowers women to use balance in every aspect of life to maintain lifelong recovery. When Nicole isn't blogging or counseling, she loves spending her time traveling, eating burgers, and surrounding herself with positive people.


  • Eleni Phillips says:

    Thank you Nicole for sharing all you did about WHY you have decided to go to Bali. I think I also live with the idea of “having” or “being” 👀😳🙈Borderline Personality Disorder because when you spark about your life, how you feel about yourself and having read your posts and stories about your life experiences, ED journey, intimacy issues, ANXIETY, emptiness, sadness, and emotional extremes on the other end, I FEEL that it’s ME who’s sharing and not you Nicole🙊That’s how strange I feel regarding to TOTALLY UNDERSTANDING what you’re talking about; it’s almost scary….

    • Nicole says:


      Thank you SO much for your kind words. Sometimes that’s what can help the most – feeling like another person’s experience so highly resonates with your own. Makes you feel less alone, you know? Takes off some of the stigma and shame that society seems to place on mental health struggles.

      Again, I’m so happy you reached out 🙂

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