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How Yoga Healed Me Through the 5 Stages of Divorce Grief

Through my divorce, yoga taught me to connect my body with my mind and my spirit. In doing so, I found my internal spring of love, hope and gratitude from which my soul is immeasurably replenished and nurtured.
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Stage One: Denying Impermanence Mixed with a Little Rage

The frigid January night I kicked my ex-husband out, my yoga mat took a beating without complaint. My mat absorbed the fire from my feet, the sweat from my body, and the tears from my heart. I rooted into my mat like a tree while the tornado of my ex-husband's deceit swirled around me. Standing on my right leg with my left foot tucked inside my right thigh, I lifted my heart and my arms upward toward the sky and waved both my middle fingers in the air. Marriage is supposed to be forever. Only mine wasn't meant to be.

I learned how to breathe through four months of rage, anger, and emotional upheaval. My yoga mat gently held me in child pose as night after night, I f-bombed and cried my pain away. Through my uncovery months, my yoga practice showed me that the impermanence of "ever after" is no different than the impermanence of each breath. Letting go of my nineteen-year marriage and life as I knew it was not easy but I learned to untangle myself from the past and live my life forward.

Stage Two: Can I Just Punch Him in the Face?

In hero pose my yoga practice helped teach me to be still in my anger. Sitting with my right knee wrapped around my left knee and both feet flexed outwards, I rounded my spine as I bowed my forehead to my top knee. I learned how to recognize my anger, accept it, to imagine holding it the palm of my hand and gently blowing it away with each exhalation. At first my ex-husband was the object of my anger - a speck of dust that I'd visualize blowing away with my breath and some days I'd just imagine punching him in the face.

As I unpeeled my anger I learned who I was really angry with - my 'self.' I did everything I could to save a marriage irreparably damaged by my ex- husband's double life and in doing so, I compromised myself, my daughters, my values, my principles and my own dreams and aspirations.

It wasn't easy owning up to my anger and why I was so angry. Sure, it was easier to point my finger and blame my ex for all the crap but at the end of the day, I made choices that weren't always right for me. Or my kids. Or even my ex.

Stage Three and Four: The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory

Grappling with a profound sadness, I allowed my yoga practice to take me where I needed to grow.

Eagle pose surprised me as I took flight in this challenging pose. Twisting my right arm over left with my palms touching each other while wrapping my left leg around my right leg, I could feel the return of my independence. Balanced in this posture, I often imagined myself flying triumphantly out of Salvador Dali's "Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory." I could see myself standing in the middle of the painting surveying the loss of time as it melted off the clock. I could see the shattered world I was afraid to leave. I knew this fractured miserable world - and for years I was determined to keep my family together no matter what.

Stage Five: The Beauty of Acceptance

Like the painting, my marriage had been torn apart by one too many emotional atomic bombs. In 1993 the first atomic bomb was a woman named Karen and in 2002 the second atomic bomb - the one that obliterated life as I knew it - was a woman named Kimberley.

When I discovered that "no matter what" came at the expense of my own self-respect, I decided that a leap off the canvas of devastation into the great unknown was the best option. I learned that when I made decisions that were right for me they were also right for my daughters...even if they didn't see it at the time.

Yoga helped teach me to be my 'self' without someone else defining who I was.

I mended fractured relationships with people in my family and friends who my ex didn't like. I made choices that were right for me, like selling the house my daughters and I lived in and buying something smaller and easier to manage. Through my divorce, yoga taught me to connect my body with my mind and my spirit. In doing so, I found my internal spring of love, hope and gratitude from which my soul is immeasurably replenished and nurtured. This discovery came not a moment too soon because five short months after my divorce was final and one year to the day after my ex -husband and I began our disentanglement, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Stay tuned for Part Two and I'll share with you how my yoga and writing practice helped heal my soul and my breast cancer.

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