Practicing yoga during divorce and after promotes self-love, community, ba, ance and clarity.
There are few things in life as stressful and traumatic as going through a divorce. If you’re also trying to maintain a job and/or take care of kids, it can be easy to neglect yourself, but during this difficult time, your physical and mental health should be priority number one.
Yoga is a beautiful practice that allows you to access and nurture your emotional health while doing something great for your body. Because of the combined mind/body approach, yoga is helpful in targeting both the emotional and physical side effects of chronic stress.
Below are 5 ways that yoga can help you manage the stress surrounding your divorce.
Each yoga practice is deeply personal, meaning you’ll probably find many more benefits unique to your personality and situation.
You can do yoga in a class, at home, or even in line at the grocery store, so there’s no reason not to give this ancient healing practice a shot, especially considering that chronic stress so often leads to chronic illness.
One of the worst things about a breakup is the feeling that you’re losing your confidant or best friend. If most of your friends are married, going through a divorce can be especially alienating.
One of the things committed yogi’s love most about their yoga practice is the community that it helps them cultivate. Walking into a yoga class, you already know that you share certain values with the people that surround you. For one, you have all come together to do something compassionate for yourselves and hopefully to experience some personal growth or at least relaxation.
Even if you don’t talk to anyone in class, sometimes just being around other people is helpful, especially if you’re suffering from debilitating depression that limits your ability to socialize. But if you are looking for positive faces and fellow spiritual voyagers, a local yoga studio could be a great community to plug into.
Looking for a drastic change? Developing your yoga community could be a huge step in changing your life. To really treat yourself and meet like-minded yogis from around the world, you should consider going on a yoga retreat or visiting an ashram. Looking for a career change or accelerated personal growth? You’d be surprised how many doors a yoga teacher training can open. Many teacher trainings also cultivate an intimate environment between students, leading to lifelong spiritual friendships. While you’re going through this tumultuous time, surrounding yourself with a network of support could be a game changer in your stress management strategy.
While going through a divorce, you may be feeling overwhelmed with guilt, doubt, or self-blame. If you’re separating yourself from a violent partner, you might even be facing gas lighting and aggression. These stress inducing feelings are natural, but ultimately they do not serve your best interest or your family.
Yoga teaches a radical approach to your relationship with yourself, one grounded in love. Through your yoga journey, you’ll develop a mindfulness practice. By practicing mindfulness, your attention will be focused on the present moment. Not only does this free you from worry, regret and obsessing about the past, you’ll also become much more aware of your thoughts. Through this practice you’ll learn to identify thoughts that are self-defeating and not grounded in self-compassion, opening up new mental space for positivity and love.
On a seemingly more mundane level, self-love also means self-care.
In the chaos of a divorce, taking care of yourself often becomes something you put on the backburner, but as the backbone of your family, self-care actually needs to be your first priority.
Self-care can include everything from exercise to taking the time to watch your favorite TV show. For those who think self-care sounds like an indulgence right now, ask yourself, “If I’m not taking care of myself, how am I going to be capable of taking care of others?”
Through practicing yoga you’ll learn techniques for dealing with stress, while doing something deeply healthy for your body and mind. Most women in our society are not taught the self-care practices that they need to thrive, so if you have daughters it’s especially important that you set the example for self-care.
Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with negative thoughts about yourself, use yoga as your tonic. A few minutes spent doing yoga can turn your mental space around completely. Try relaxing in Child’s Pose while repeating a self-love mantra that has meaning for you.
Going through a divorce may be an exhausting and chaotic time, but that’s no reason not to make yourself a priority. Try to see this time of radical change as an opportunity to create the life you’ve been dreaming about.
Like it or not, but getting a divorce brings you to a crossroads in life. In some ways, this is terrifying, in other ways it can be empowering, but the uncertainty can definitely be stressful. What’s important at this time is getting clarity to help you understand the past and plan a more positive future.
Too often we find ourselves floating through life, not really sure what we want or where we are going. If you’re living this way you’ll often find yourself in less than pleasant situations asking yourself, “How did I get here?” Making matters worse, the sadness and stress that surrounds a divorce often creates a fog that can prevent you from seeing your life clearly.
The stillness and peace you are able to cultivate through a consistent yoga practice can help you obtain more clarity.
The mindfulness aspect of yoga also helps you to assess your life from a more emotionally detached perspective. This means you should eventually be able to analyze your life and marriage without putting yourself through too much emotional turmoil.
Through your time spent practicing yoga and meditating, you can get a clearer understanding of what traits, people, and practices serve your best interests and which should not have a place in the new life you are mindfully creating for yourself. Walking meditations and journaling are wonderful practices that relieve stress and can help you contemplate the kind of life you would like to cultivate.
Coping with Depression
For decades, if not centuries, anecdotal evidence has pointed towards yoga as a tool for dealing with depression. People often report feeling a sense of overall well being, if not euphoria, after a yoga class. Now, there seems to be concrete science to back up their claims.
It’s a well-established fact that exercise helps the brain to release feel-good chemicals like endocannabinoids and endorphins, but yoga’s unique combination of movement and meditation might have some special benefits.
One German study focused on women experiencing emotional distress. Women who attended yoga classes twice a week saw a 50% increase in mood and a 30% decrease in anxiety. They also reported a 65% increase in overall feelings of well being. Studies have also found that insomnia, a common side effect of stress and depression can be treated with yoga.
Sadness, depression, and anxiety are all normal reactions to going through a divorce, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel trapped by your emotions.
A consistent yoga practice combined with therapy could be a literal lifesaver for many women. Depression is serious, so if you’re suffering don’t allow anything to prevent you from getting the help that you need.
Yogic wisdom teaches that the way to escape pain is by experiencing and releasing it. Life experience has probably already taught you that the more you run away from emotional pain, the harder you’ll feel it later when it inevitably catches up with you. Your yoga practice, including mindfulness, meditation, and community, can help you face the pain head-on.
The time you spend in stillness during yoga also allows emotions you may be repressing to float to the surface.
Almost all of us have been that person shedding a tear in a yoga class. Luckily, yogis know that emotional release is a natural part of yoga and personal growth.
As your divorce progresses, you may also find that you’re holding on to a great deal of anger, both towards yourself and your former partner. Your anger towards your former spouse may be justified, but that doesn’t mean that holding onto it will benefit you in any way. Through the physical postures, meditation and reading yogic literature, you’ll find plenty of tools for moving beyond your anger, while practicing self-love can help you let go of the anger you’re directing at yourself.
If finding a new partner is one of your goals, you first need to accept your loss and move beyond your anger. Accepting your loss and all of your subsequent feelings is one of the most powerful steps you can make towards your emotional healing and absolutely necessary should you want to be a good partner to someone else in the future.
Many women going through a divorce will say that they don’t have time for yoga. Ideally, you should be able to take time for your practice every day, but if you’re not to that point yet, don’t worry, you can still sneak yoga into your day.
While brushing your teeth in the morning you can practice repeating self-love mantras. Anytime you find yourself standing, you can practice Tadasana (Mountain Pose) or balancing poses. At any point during the day, check in with your breathing to make sure you’re taking deep, full breaths, not shallow, anxiety triggering breaths. You can even set a reminder on your phone to check in with your breathing.
Doing Rag Doll behind your desk at work can help to release the tension in your shoulders that builds up after a day at the computer. Likewise, sitting at a stoplight is a great time to stretch your shoulders, neck, or back, while spending a few minutes in Legs Up the Wall Pose before bed will calm the central nervous system, deliver a gentle stretch, and possibly help prevent varicose veins. Just adding a few of these practices into your day can help to diminish stress and anxiety in a big way.
Going through a divorce may be an exhausting and chaotic time, but that’s no reason not to make yourself a priority. Try to see this time of radical change as an opportunity to create the life you’ve been dreaming about. A consistent yoga practice can help you develop the tools of stress reduction, confidence and self-love (just to name a few) that you need to cultivate the fulfilling life you deserve. Keep in mind that the best way to care for those around you, especially children, is by setting a good example and making your self-care a priority.