Three years ago, I suffered a tsunami divorce, an unexpected trauma that left me dazed and confused on the shattered shore of my life. Yoga was and continues to be a key component of my healing process, as it has taught me many lessons that I have been able to use in my self-restoration project.
1) Flexibility: Before my husband abruptly left, I had my life planned out. I knew what I wanted, and I thought I knew how to get there. Yoga helped to realize that I could stretch myself beyond any perceived limitations. I learned to loosen my expectations and approach each challenge with curiosity and an open mind.
2) Breath: For months after the trauma, my chest was bound in a straightjacket of sorrow. My brain refused to let my body breathe. On the mat, I was able to re-train the breath as I learned to soften and allow it to flow. Slowly, my bound breast was released and the air flowed smoothly and deeply again.
3) Push Further: I used to say that I could not live without my husband. Once he left, I had no choice. I used to approach yoga with that same certainty, stating, “I can’t do that,” in reference to some advanced move. I began to comprehend that I could do much more than I ever thought possible, on and off the mat.
4) Balance: In my former life, I was unbalanced. I spent too much time on work and not enough on play. Yoga taught me the value of balance. When I was off-kilter in mind or body, I struggled. Whereas, if I could find stability in a pose, I could hold it with ease. I now seek to maintain that balance in my life and enjoy the peace that it brings.
5) Acceptance: Change is hard. Unexpected and unwanted change is even harder. When I uncovered the horrific nature of my husband’s deceptions, I railed against my new reality. Through yoga, I learned to accept the present and its limitations. I became skilled in breathing into discomfort rather than trying to fight against it. My practice allowed me to find acceptance in the past.
6) Take Your Time: I had a difficult time being patient with the healing process; I wanted to be “over it” now. With yoga, I learned to be patient and to move at a pace that worked with my body and my breath. Vinyasas and grief should not be rushed.
7) Rest: Divorce is exhausting, yet I felt like I couldn’t take the time to rest. I was afraid that I would miss something if I pushed the “pause” button. In my yoga classes, there were times I had to take child’s pose to rest. I realized that the practice was still there when I lifted my head back up, and I felt recharged and ready to continue. Yoga became my pause in my life, my hour to rest from the demands of the rest of the world.
8) Trust: When I discovered that my beloved husband betrayed me in every way possible, my ability to trust was taken from me like candy from a baby. Yoga taught me to trust again: first myself, as I found my stability in balancing poses and then others, as I allowed a teacher to manipulate my form.
Yoga is a form of therapy that can help us through the difficult times. Let the healing begin on the mat, and carry it with you beyond the studio.