Having your heart broken can be a blessing in disguise.
Like any big blow, it wakes you up. It sharpens your senses (sensitivity to slight provocations is common) and allows you to reevaluate things—the question, “who am I now?” often comes up. A breakup sows fertile ground for you to come back to yourself.
A tried and true way to get there is through yoga.
When you practice yoga, you’re not distracting yourself with errands or your job. You’re stuck with you, and that’s great news. Why? Because nobody but you is going to be able to heal you.
The path to feeling whole again isn’t linear. Whether you’re feeling sad, hopeless or angry, a productive way to approach this buffet of emotions is by having a short, go-to yoga practice for each.
As you move through the following three series, focus on your breath and the movements coordinated with it. Your heart and brain are connected, literally and figuratively. In turn, absorbing yourself in the rhythm of your practice sends positive messages to your brain so that your heart can be on the mend.
If you’re feeling sad
Meet yourself where you are emotionally. We usually want to push away this feeling, but if we don’t feel it fully when it surfaces, it usually returns. Your practice strategy here is to open the body. The following moves will help you do just that.
- Come to hands and knees, with shoulders over wrists and hips over knees.
- Inhale as you reach your head forward and hips back. Exhale as you create a curve with your torso by looking to the right and shifting your hips to the right.
- Inhale as you come through center and lengthen your torso. Exhale as you curve toward the other side. Repeat pattern five times.
- Sit down and join the soles of your feet as your knees drop to the sides.
- Place heels a comfortable distance from your groin. If lower back rounds, causing your pelvis to tilt backward, sit on something that lifts your seat (this lets your hips open more easily).
- Inhale as you broaden your chest. Exhale as you hinge at your hips and tilt your torso forward.
- Take five breaths to gradually tilt forward a little more. Rest your elbows inside your legs, and soften your neck. Hold the final fold 10 breaths.
If you’re feeling hopeless
Great news—you’re not hopeless. The single thing humanity has been able to rely on forever is hope. So, the key here is to remind yourself that better days are not impossible.
Your practice strategy is to set an intention and cultivate strength through movement. You’re still going to feel whatever you feel. But if you set an intention, it will fortify you. Try “believe in myself” or “embrace the unknown.”
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, and bring your hands to your hips.
- Inhale as you press down through your right leg and lift your left leg back, tilting your torso forward. Aspire to both lift your leg and lower your torso to hip height. You can modify by lowering your torso and placing your hands on the ground.
- Bend slightly through your standing knee, and roll the outer hip of your raised leg down a little to keep your hips level.
- Take five to 10 breaths. Switch to other leg.
- Lower to forearms, keeping them parallel, with elbows under shoulders.
- Walk feet back, lifting your knees from the ground, until you form a straight line from ankles to shoulders. If your belly sags, drop your knees.
- Squeeze armpits toward your midline.
- Hold for five to 10 breaths.
If you’re feeling angry
The key is putting intense energy to work for you—not against you. Your strategy is to practice a vigorous flow of movements, followed by yogic rest.
Tadasana (mountain pose) with big arm circles
- Stand with feet hip-width apart. Inhale as you lift both arms overhead, then exhale as you turn your torso to the right, lowering your arms.
- Inhale as you turn your torso to face forward and lift your arms overhead, then exhale as you turn to the left, lowering your arms.
- Repeat pattern five times.
- Reach arms out, shoulder-height. Inhale as you swing your right leg forward and up, then exhale as you swing it back.
- Repeat five times. Switch to the other leg.
Wide-legged forward bend, variation
- Bring hands to hips, and step legs apart slightly less than one leg’s length, bending them a little.
- Exhale as you hinge forward until your torso is parallel to the ground. Inhale to lift your torso back up.
- Repeat 10 times.
Savasana (final resting pose)
- Lie on your back for several minutes, with arms and legs outstretched. If your lower back is tight, place a rolled blanket under your knees.
- If you still feel tense, repeat the practice, and then come to savasana.
Looking for more? Here are 5 reasons you should get on your yoga mat today.
Learn more about journalist Mitra Malek at mitramalek.com.