Yoga for Heartbreak: How to Make Your Practice a Sanctuary
We’ve all been there at one point or another—flat on the floor because someone we love doesn’t feel the same way about us or we lose someone we care about.
Heartbreak can be excruciating. And a lot of us have the tendency to try to resist, avoid, or just ‘turn off’ the pain that comes along with it. But in the long run, that only makes things worse.
It can be hard to know what to do when we’re broken-hearted, but one place that can quickly become a sanctuary in those moments is our yoga mat.
Our yoga practice can easily create a safe space for us to sit with our pain. There’s no more supportive place than one where we are fully present with our breath, our bodies and our hearts, for us to begin healing.
Feel—All of It
The only way—the only way—to heal, is to feel.
I know it can be hard. I know that feeling everything can be unbearable. But what’s more unbearable is the weight of not feeling. In the end, suffering is the result of not feeling.
When we feel, we create space to let our heartbreak move through us rather than it finding a place to settle within us.
Use your yoga practice as a place for you to feel. Let yourself fall apart on your mat. Let it be a place for you to be exactly who are you—even if who you are right now is a broken mess. Be it.
When you feel your heart in yoga, keep going. Move closer to your heartbreak instead of running away from it.
Feeling is healing.
Focus on Heart Opening
There are certain asanas (postures) in yoga that were created specifically for opening our hearts. Backbends like Bhujangasana (Cobra), Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog) and Dhanurasana (Bow) are perfect examples.
When we physically open up our hearts, we tell our emotions to do the same. Opening our hearts in times of heartache signals to us that we’re not abandoning ourselves, that we’re willing to heal.
But don’t let the challenge of backbends deter you. Let poses like Cobra and Upward-Facing Dog, ones you do a lot of throughout class, open your heart. Move through them extra slowly and mindfully and really open your heart, every single time.
You don’t have to do the more challenging postures to get the effects of a good heart opener. The key is to keep breathing and opening, nice and slow, each time.
Stay with Your Breath
In the moments you lose your cool—which will most likely happen at some point or another—whether it’s from anxiety, fear or the simple fact that you’re heartbroken, always, always, always come back to your breath.
Our breath brings us to the present moment. And the present moment is what shows us that we are always okay. Yes, we may be in pain, but we are breathing, we are alive.
Yoga is the perfect place to practice staying with our breath in daily life. In this moving meditation, we learn to keep our awareness around our breath in times of calm and in times of discomfort.
Practice that mindfulness on the mat and it will carry over into your life. Here is the video for you on yogic breathing.
Use Your Strength
You are so much stronger than you think are.
And yoga shows us that—both physically and emotionally.
Sometimes we need to see that we’re stronger than we know. That we’re strong enough to make it through whatever storm we’re facing.
Your yoga practice is the perfect place to show yourself that you’re going to be okay. Whether it’s staying in a pose longer than you want to, or trying an asana you’ve never tried before, let yoga remind you of how strong you are.
Come Back to Yourself
While it may not feel like it in times of sorrow, we are the true source of our happiness. Remember this.
It doesn’t mean to be positive or optimistic in moments when you’re feeling anything but that. It means to trust yourself. To really be right where you are.
You are your own greatest teacher.
We so often get caught up wanting to know the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to go about our own emotional healing.
But there isn’t a right or wrong. In those quiet moments on your mat, when you’re breathing and simply being present with yourself, you’ll know exactly what you need to do.
Trust that. Trust yourself to know what’s best for you.
Living with a broken heart is never easy. And there are so many ways these days to try to avoid it. But the best thing to do in times of suffering is to be with yourself. And one of the best places to do that is through your yoga practice.
Let yourself create a sanctuary on your mat. It’s okay if this is the only place you can manage it—just keep coming back to the practice. Keep feeling your heart. Keep trusting your life and the processes that come with it.
And whatever you do, keep breathing.
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali) and Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur).