At first blush they seem so different. Yoga and divorce. One is so Zen. The other is about as “un-Zen” as you could possibly get. Yet, as I was trying to balance in Eagle pose yesterday, standing on one leg with my arms and legs wrapped around each other like pretzels and the sweat pouring off of me in the 105 ̊ heat (I do Bikram yoga. Yes. I know. It’s hot.) it occurred to me: yoga can teach you a lot about divorce.
Here are ten things I discovered about divorce in yoga class.
1. If you want to survive, you’ve got to breathe. In yoga, nothing happens without breath. Even when you are straining to stay bent over like a rabbit with the top of your head on the floor and your belly compressing your lungs like a flat tire under a truck, you have to breathe.
Divorce is a marathon, not a sprint. It always takes longer than you think. If you are going to make it through, you have to breathe. If you don’t want to develop panic attacks, you’ve got to learn to relax. You won’t know how things are going to turn out in the end … until you get to the end. Then you will know. In the meantime, you have to breathe.
2. Perfection is impossible. No matter how well you do a pose, you can always do it better. You may think you’re amazing because you just got the top of your head to touch the floor while you were bent over at the waist, grabbing both legs from behind. But now you have to do the same thing without bending your knees, and get your hands underneath your heels too.
When you are going through a divorce, “perfect” becomes a thing of the past. Your life will no longer seem perfect. You will feel shattered and broken. But slowly you will figure out that imperfection is okay. It’s actually more than okay. Once you no longer need to be perfect, you can start to just “be.” Ultimately, “being” is far better than “perfect.”
3. It’s the little things that get you. Just when you think you are totally rocking a pose, the instructor comes by and “gently” reminds you that you need to keep your back straight, suck your belly in, and tighten all the muscles in your legs. The second you try to do all that, the rest of the pose falls apart. You want to cry.
Sure, the “big things” in divorce matter. But what surprises you most is when you find yourself fighting to the death over who gets the china that you never liked and have never used. You rage at the fact that your spouse wants you to pay an extra $100 a month for something that clearly should not be your responsibility. Your heart breaks when you tuck your child into bed at night and he asks, “When is mommy (or daddy) coming home?” Are those really little things?
4. Every day is different. My yoga instructor says that you have a new body every day. Some days you are more flexible. Other days, not so much. So, even though you are going through the same poses you have gone through dozens of times before, you do them differently in every class.
When you are going through a divorce, you will be amazed at how different you can be, not only from day to day, but from minute to moment. One minute you are functioning well. Then you see an old family photo and turn into a blubbering pile of mush. One minute you are having an adult conversation with your lawyer, then your spouse walks into the conference room and you turn into a screaming maniac. You don’t even recognize yourself anymore! You are that different. Continue reading >>