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.