Going to the Mat: 5 Ways Yoga Helped Me Leave a Bad Relationship by Rediscovering My Truth

Going to the Mat: 5 Ways Yoga Helped Me Leave a Bad Relationship by Rediscovering My Truth

“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self…” – The Bhagavad Gita

It had been years, years of miscommunication and misunderstanding, years of anger of not feeling “seen” of losing myself or maybe hiding myself. Then came the 3 children essentially triplets (a set of twin boys and a girl right behind them) who filled me in a way I never knew possible but allowed me to avoid engaging in a relationship that had become toxic…maybe always was.

Through it all, I had put my yoga practice on hold. Of course, I knew it was there, but only remembered, after the fact, that this was the time I needed it the most.

The pause reflected the loss of who I truly was, who I truly am. I gave it all up to be a “good wife,” one who only gave my attention to my husband. I narrowed my circles, eliminated friends, answered every phone call to share my whereabouts, to answer “yes” to the question “are you behaving?”

And I still fell short.

I still failed.

And I believed it all, internalized it all.

Where had my free spirit gone?

Where was the girl who loved men, dancing, socializing and herself?

I stopped exercising and eating. Wanting to disconnect from my body completely to feel nothing. I was missing. I was only alive alone with my children, feeding off of their joy and wonder, but this was their experience and I couldn’t sustain myself in that way, the way they could.

Finally, there came that moment, the one you dread because it’s usually “rock bottom” or close to it, but also the one you hope for that creates a shift, the one that brought me back to the mat. How did it happen? How did my practice become my teacher and my impetus for change?

It began with with a simple YES
The kids were a bit older and easier for a sitter to manage alone. A friend, one of the few I was still talking to, suggested a yoga class. Somehow I managed to say YES. It had been so long and I was intimidated because I wasn’t sure I would remember how. I didn’t have the “right” clothes and I didn’t even know what I looked like but I had my mat and I was determined. Something in me said “just go” and I listened.

When I walked into class I found a quiet corner hoping not to be noticed. I unrolled my mat and sat waiting.

Connecting in order to let go
The teacher began with a meditation to connect with our breath.

Connect? I wasn’t even sure what that meant.

How could I connect to myself when I wasn’t there? But I went along and somehow I found it. I don’t remember all that happened in that first class but I do remember my breath and being able to inhale and especially to exhale emptying myself of air, sadness, anger, regret. I remember feeling supported by the mat underneath me. I felt as though if I fell it would catch me and it did just that. I remember noticing after so long what my body felt like…the body I had purposely rejected, hated, wished wasn’t there. Even though I treated that body with such disdain my legs still supported me, my arms still reached for the sky and lowered me gently through chaturanga. My heart still opened with ease. I remember sweet savasana. Letting everything go in that moment which I was sure would kill me but it didn’t.

I remember I returned home that day and lay down on the floor of my closet and cried until I ran out of tears.

Even on the hardest days I made time to get myself to a yoga class. If all I could manage was savasana so be it… I was there! It took a while but the changes came. I learned not to hate feeling in my body. I learned to sit with discomfort and then let it pass. I learned to celebrate my achievements and appreciate my failures as that meant I had room to grow…I was still growing. I became part of a community who held my hand when I cried in class who laughed with me when I fell in a pose. I learned to give myself quiet and stillness. I learned to love myself once again the way I had once before and that this love of self was enough.

Finding my voice
Ultimately, when I regained my strength, my self-acceptance I made the choice to change my circumstances. I had the ability to say “no more!”  And I did in spite of the unknown because yoga taught me the unknown is full of possibility.

Now, years later I’m in a better place, a wonderful place, with 3 beautiful and thriving children who love themselves, quirks and all, in a healthy dynamic with my ex. Being creative and embracing the girl who loved life, who LOVES life. I have my sad days and and bad days but can ride the waves and know that these days turn into ones full of joy.

I find myself now in this place of self acceptance facing my challenges head on as myself. I was gone but my practice brought me back and I won’t hide, hate or disregard myself again. I am always learning, falling down and getting back up, laughing as much as I can, crying when I need to and opening my heart as often as possible.

And when I feel myself slipping I know my mat is there to steady me but mostly I know that I am there to support myself.

Susan Verde

Susan Verde is currently living in East Hampton, New York with her twin boys Joshua and Gabriel and her daughter Sophia where she writes children’s books and teaches kid’s yoga and mindfulness. Her children, her practice and the ocean at her doorstep keep her constantly connected and inspired. She is the award winning author of multiple picture books including The Water Princess and the best-selling I Am Yoga and its sequel I Am Peace, a book of mindfulness.