Australian Yoga Journal

THE NAMASTE BREAKUP

Relationships can be like that. THAT’S OK. YOU’RE MOVING ON.

BREAKUPS ARE NEVER EASY, no matter who initiates the split. By nature, decoupling injects fear and doubt into so many parts of our lives. It can make us question our very identity: how could we have been so wrong about something so important? And because many of the things that seem to matter most in society are at stake—who our friends are, our economic standing, where we live—breaking up muddies our thinking; it can leave us feeling ungrounded, and it can turn our support systems upside down.

Twelve years ago, when my first marriage ended, I suddenly found myself lost in a strange and unfamiliar world. Up to that point, I’d spent most of my adult years as half of a pair, and suddenly I was...alone.

Or so it felt at the time.

During my divorce, people whom I’d assumed would always be there for me vanished. Others fumbled along, offering questionable advice and mixed messages. (My own mother, who has been married to my father for 51 years, still wistfully recalls things that happened at my first wedding while forever stumbling over the name of my current husband of nine years.) Some friends hedged their bets, picked sides, or went silent. Traitors! I thought.

Somewhere deep down, though, I had the feeling that I’d come out OK. I’d spent most of my adult life playing roles—mother, wife, daughter-in-law, student, employee—and in the midst of this breakup-induced gigantic upheaval, I hoped I could reclaim myself.

Indeed, every major life event—even a difficult one—offers us the opportunity to recalibrate and reconnect, says Elizabeth Rowan, a yoga teacher and healer in Atlanta who went through her own divorce several years ago. “I’m a big proponent of diving into the dark, where we can discover what we are pushing away but could learn to hold,” she says. For healers like Rowan, mindfulness, yoga, and meditation are gifts—a collective wisdom distilled from the experiences of countless others who found their way back to the light. At their essence, these tools teach us that we have the power within ourselves to weather whatever life throws our way. Isn’t that exactly the narrative that underpins every yoga sesh, from Boston to Brisbane? That breathing through adversity makes us more resilient? That it takes immense strength to find stillness when we’re uncomfortable? That every practice builds toward something greater than ourselves? But how can these techniques be harnessed during the craziness of a separation? To answer that question, I reached out to psychologists, divorce lawyers, researchers, yoga teachers, and life coaches—many of whom had gone through their own big breakups. I asked each of them to describe the particular aspects of divorce that make it one of life’s most stressful events. Then I asked them about the tools they use to guide their clients (and themselves) through the journey.

Of course, every breakup is different. But a surprising number of the emotions we experience during uncoupling are the same across

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