In this week’s Love Essentially, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press, I write about a group of divorcees who in healing from divorce use yoga and a weekly night out. Really fun story!
Yoga and Divorce: A Perfect Marriage by Jackie Pilossoph
There are two types of people, in my opinion: those who love yoga, and those who haven’t tried yoga.
Why do I say that? Because honestly, although I don’t show up at yoga class half as much as I should, there’s nothing not to love about the practice that is referred to not as a sport, but rather as a philosophy or a way of life.
I’m not qualified to list the hundreds of physical, mental and emotional benefits of doing yoga, but as a relationship expert I do feel like I can say with authority that I believe yoga offers tremendous relief during situations of severe relationship stress. That includes people going through a divorce or those already divorced.
So when I found out about a group of men and women on the North Shore who are mostly divorced and who practice yoga together on Tuesday nights and then go out for dinner afterward, I decided to track them down to talk about how deep breathing and downward dogs contribute to healing after the end of a marriage.
“Yoga for me was a life game changer,” said Steve LaKind of Evanston, a commercial real estate broker who has practiced yoga for a decade and who went through a divorce two years ago. “Divorce is very consuming and it’s in your head a lot, so when you go to yoga, the goal is to get out of that place for awhile. It’s similar to what drugs and alcohol do for some people.”
Kira Maar is the yoga instructor who teaches the class, which takes place at Evolution Yoga in Glenview, and then rolls over into dinner somewhere in the neighborhood. Maar, a divorced mom of two who has taught yoga for eight years, said she started the Tuesday night class with some friends who were interested, and it grew by word of mouth.
“Instead of being depressed or sitting around thinking about what would have been, we are in the moment in the way we enjoy our yoga and our company,” said Maar, whose typical Tuesday night class attracts around a dozen students. “It is a path you need to go on to avoid ending up caught in the past and in the expectations of what life should be.”
Calling her group, “my happy place,” Maar said the connection they all feel stems from being similar-minded people who have gone through similar things in life. She also said everyone happens to be really, really funny.
“We laugh so much. We laugh all the time. Hysterically,” she said. “That’s not to say we don’t discuss heavy stuff. We do. But we all want to see lightness, so if the moment gets tense, someone will crack a joke and suddenly it becomes funny and maybe more manageable.”
Allison Elias of Glenview is recently divorced, and said her yoga classmates have been very supportive, using humor to help ease her anxiety.
“There were a lot of times I’d come to class stressed and the group would make jokes and get my mind off my stress,” said Elias. “The practice itself gets you to clear your mind. You can’t do yoga and worry about your problems at the same time. It’s impossible.”
“The biggest shock for me was realizing my kids weren’t going to be with me every day. That was the hardest part,” said Scott Gardner of Northbrook about his divorce. “So during the time I would have been spending with my kids, doing yoga helped me be present and not stress out about it.”
As a divorced person, I can attest to the devastation, loneliness, fear, anger, frustration and all the other emotions that come with a marital split. But I truly believe two of the biggest sources of comfort and relief from those emotions are exercise and laughter, which pretty much describes Maar’s class!
“They’re all super, smart people and they all bring something unique to the table, so when we all come together, it’s explosive,” Maar said. “You have to be spontaneous and free flowing in your thinking if you want to be happy.”
“If more people did yoga…” (Click here to read the rest of the article, published two days ago in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press.)
Like this article? Check out my blog post, 50 Reasons Hitting The Gym Helps in Coping With Divorce