by Len Lear and Lou Mancinelli
Daralyse Lyons, of Mt. Airy, just turned 31 on Sept. 8, but the certified yoga instructor who suffered with a severe eating disorder (anorexia and bulimia) for 10 years, starting at age 14, and a near-suicide has become one of the most prolific authors in the Greater Philadelphia area. To date, Lyons has sold 10 books to publishers. Four have already come out — “The Lost Daughter,” “The Dating Diet,” “The Emotional Yoga Experience” and “Confessions of A Straight Gay Woman” — and six more are due to be released this year.
“I can’t seem to stop writing in whatever free time I have,” she told us last week. “Healing is my professional passion, writing my personal one. Ever since I was 5 years old, I wanted to be a writer. One of the greatest joys of my life is putting pen to paper.”
Lyons’ most recent book, published June 24, was “The Emotional Yoga Experience: Use Your Body to Heal Your Mind” (Martin Brown Publishers, LLC, $10.95). Several local businesses — Indigo Schuy, Blue Banyan Yoga and Twisters Yoga — actively contributed to the book. According to the promotional material for the book, “Whatever your complaint, ‘The Emotional Yoga Experience’ will provide you with a step-by-step approach that can help you become free of your self-limiting problems once and for all. Instead of spending more hours on a therapist’s couch trying to rewire your brain, this book will show you that when your mind cannot help you get unstuck, your body can.”
Although Daralyse lives and works in Mt. Airy, teaching four yoga classes a week, she has also traveled to work with clients around the country. She even sees many international clients via Skype. She employs her techniques with people as far away as Germany, Saudi Arabia and France.
Lyons wrote the latest book because she is obviously limited in working with clients one-on-one or in small groups, so she wanted to “give clients an affordable self-help manual. Also, I train Emotional Yoga practitioners, and because I created the technique, I felt like there should be more literature to help people learn how to do what I do, whether for themselves or others.”
How long did she work on the book? “Too long! Nonfiction is a great deal more intensive than fiction. The book took about a year and a half or two years to write, but then I had to go through the rigmarole of finding a publisher. The whole process seemed to drag on forever, but in the end it was well worth it.”
Lyons, who calls herself a “recovering overachiever,” is originally from Greenwich, CT. She grew up the only child of a single mom until age 11 when her mom got married again. Dara graduated Summa Cum Laude from New York University with a double major in English and Religious Studies and a minor in History. She moved from Connecticut to Philly in 2009 and has been living in Mt. Airy since then. “I LOVE it,” she insisted. “Mt. Airy is the quintessential Zen zone. I also love Chestnut Hill. I do much of my writing while hopped up on green tea at the local Starbucks.”
When Lyons was growing up, therapists, doctors, nutritionists, hypnotherapists and social workers and all the talking in the world could not cure her of an eating disorder that afflicted her for more than 10 years. It was only after an episode of binging and purging that led to a suicidal phone call to her mother that Lyons, who was becoming a wealthy young woman climbing the ranks of a Greenwich, Conn. financial firm, hating it and wondering what her real purpose in life was, began to climb out of the tunnel of despair.
She learned to combine yoga and something called the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and cured herself of a decade of binging and purging, a technique that has refocused her life. She now teaches that technique herself. “I don’t know how it worked,” said Lyons in an earlier interview, “but it did. I always thought the desire to binge and purge would come back, but it never did. It just doesn’t exist in me. When I realized it wasn’t coming back, I said, ‘I have to help others.'”
After suffering from seizures as a child, Lyons, who is open about her past because she believes her story can help others, was 14 years old when she realized that her life “was out of control. I felt the world was falling apart, like I was dying inside.” Instead of succumbing to what she perceived to be random negative emotions and aspects of her life beyond her control, she decided she would manage her own body and started to “starve” herself and “binge and purge. It took on a life of its own.
“I couldn’t stop. I thought it was normal. I thought I had to live that way to get out of bed in the morning.” A few years into living with her eating disorder, Lyons started taking yoga classes. At first she hated the discipline, but she now loves and teaches it because when she sat in silence in yogic positions and focused on her breath, she “burst into tears. I didn’t know how much psychological pain I was in.”
In 2008, Lyons became a certified yoga instructor through the Yoga Education Institute. With what she calls “Emotional Yoga,” she has helped rape and trauma victims and individuals with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, who in two to three sessions may get relief from their disorders. Comparing her previous life to her current life, she said, “In my former life I worked in finance and basically starved or binged and purged to be able to maintain a 4.0 average, work a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. job and spend my days in suits and my nights curled up in a fetal position feeling life was meaningless. Today, I wear yoga pants to work, laugh loudly and often, and have a connected, happy life. It’s not perfect or glamorous, but it is rewarding!”
Dara’s clients rave about her abilities. For example, Julia Simmons of Chestnut Hill said, “I feel independent these days, less attached to things and people and pressures, and I attribute that to Emotional Yoga. Dara’s work is transforming me from a scared little girl into a confident, vibrant woman. I finally feel like I am emerging.”
Another client, Kyra Phillips of Mt. Airy said of her experience with Dara, “It has made me feel renewed and refreshed. Because I am a yoga teacher myself, I didn’t expect to be so transformed by this work. Apparently, I had some emotional healing left to do.”
For more information about Emotional Yoga, email email@example.com or call 267-297-5787.