Everyone going through a divorce should be required by law to do yoga. I’m serious about this. Divorce and yoga go perfectly together, both for the physical and emotional benefits, which I recently discovered.
The first yoga class I ever did was several years ago. It wasn’t long after I got divorced. I actually got reprimanded by the instructor because I was checking a text message on my phone during a downward dog. So, that should give you an idea of how difficult it was for me to relax back then.
Fast forward to today, when yoga has become a huge part of my life. My phone sits in my purse across the room, as I enjoy an hour of tranquility, exercise, stretching and meditation that carries over into my every day life, and that has made me such a better person in so many ways.
I am much more calm, I have so much more patience, I don’t yell at my kids anymore, I have such a bigger tolerance for anything that goes wrong, I worry less, I’m a better girlfriend, I’m better at my job, I’m more productive, I think more clearly, I smile more… I could go on and on!
It got me thinking about divorce and yoga, and how the practice could really, really come in hand during such a difficult time.
Here are the benefits of yoga, told by someone who was the last person on earth to become a Yogi. (me.)
1. Reduces joint stiffness.
I am seriously like two different people, the one walking into the class feeling stiff and robotic, and the one walking out with my joints feeling like they did in high school
2. A good workout.
The reason I’ve always been so anti-yoga is that I like to sweat. I enjoy strength training, and waking up the next morning really, really sore. In yoga, I don’t sweat (which actually has another benefit—I don’t have to wash, blow dry and flatten my hair that day, which saves me an hour) BUT, it’s still got me moving and stretching and doing core work, which has so many benefits in and of itself.
I’ve actually read studies that show that chronic illness (including cancer) is caused by the inability to relax. Having gone through a divorce, I can tell you it is anything but relaxing. Yoga can counterbalance all that stress. Trust me, you will handle things so much better with this practice in your life. When your ex comes to get your kids, you will be so much nicer. When he says something that pisses you off, it wont’ really bother you. Yoga is an equivalent of taking anti-stress medication. Seriously.
2. Inner peace.
Whatever is bugging me, my problem de jour totally disappears during a yoga class. The whole idea is to spend an hour or an hour and fifteen minutes being completely aware of the here and now, of your body, and your inner self. It’s amazing how manageable the problems seem when I leave the class. This would apply especially to anyone going through litigation or a custody battle, financial issues, or anyone who has a broken heart.
3. Breath awareness.
This is big. Once you start learning how to incorporate breathing into yoga movements, you start to use the breathing outside of the class. For example, the other day, I got off the phone with a person I seriously wanted to kill. Instead of screaming, “Screw you!” after I hit end on my phone, I took three really deep breaths, the kind I learned in yoga, felt my rib cage expand, and instantly felt better. I let the nightmare woman I had just spoken with leave my world. Let me apply this to your divorce: you just got off the phone with your ex-husband. You won’t say that four letter word you want to say. Instead, your instinct (thanks to yoga) will tell you to breathe deeply a few times.
4. Yoga prayer for peace and other things we need to hear.
Each yoga instructor says something different at the end of each class, but here are a couple of my favorites. One teacher says, “Let’s take a moment to thank ourselves for the hard work we’ve done here today, and let’s take a moment to thank our bodies for giving us the strength and ability to perform our much loved yoga practice. I want to thank everyone here for the privilege of practicing yoga here with you today.”
I mean for me, that’s just good karma right there. Another instructor chanted a prayer for peace. For someone who never did yoga, these things might sound insignificant, silly even, but I’m telling you, it stays with you all day. Trust me.
Long term benefits:
1. Improved flexibility and range of motion.
2. Muscle definition. Makes your muscles long and lengthy. How nice does that sound?
3. Improved fitness.
4. Improved balance.
5. Stronger core-prevents lower back pain.
6. Improvement or prevention of chronic conditions, such as insomnia, depression, pain, arthritis.
7. Improves lymphatic system which fights infection and destroys cancer cells.
8. Lowers cortisol levels, in other words, in helps you stop worrying and gaining wait.
9. Improves posture.
If you try a yoga class and you aren’t a big fan, I think you need to give it a few times. Be patient. It takes patience to learn how to slow down. But slowing down–especially during a divorce is truly beneficial for a better quality of life now and in the future.
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