How Yoga Helped Me Move Past My Relationship
by Kayla Clough
Heartbreak is one of the most terrible things any human being can experience. While the pain, the tears and the longing may diminish over time, you never forget the crushing blow you felt when your relationship came to a screeching halt. My story is heart-wrenching, but it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life once I processed it, learned from it and reevaluated what was important to me in this journey of life.
After a couple of serious, but unhealthy, relationships in my late teens, early twenties, I met a beautiful man in line at the bank one day. He was not the typical guy I tend to go for, from a looks standpoint, but he had kind eyes and a warm smile. He approached me nervously while we waited in line at the bank and asked me for my number.
I had only been single for a year, and I was not looking to begin dating, but there was something about this man that made me want to say yes to a first date. We had the most beautiful, whirlwind year. After two unsuccessful long-term relationships filled with fighting, yelling, and anger, I was beginning to think that I was inherently flawed and bad at relationships.
My year with this man changed everything about my perspective on relationships. We laughed constantly, shared everything with each other and communicated flawlessly. We never had a single fight, and we shared so many common interests. He was newly divorced as well, so we took it one day at a time. Right at about the one-year mark, the urge came over me. He was eating a bowl of cereal in his plaid pajama pants, and I looked at him and told him I loved him for the first time.
My heart was racing after I said it, and it immediately began to sink once I saw his reaction. He nervously got up from the table and walked towards the sink with his cereal bowl in his hand. He stopped, looking down into the sink and at his hand holding the bowl. I asked him if he was alright, and he told me that he did not feel the same way. He said our relationship, while beautiful, was ill-timed and that he felt it best if we go our separate ways. It was a rejection within a rejection. I have never felt a pain in my heart like that in my life.
I turned, and I ran. I do not know how I made it home safely; driving home that day was a blur. I never returned his phone call, but I listened to his voicemail over and over again for weeks. In his message, he nervously told me that he would miss me and was so grateful for the time we had together.
He wished me well and told me he had packed up all of my loose items in a box. He would leave it on the back porch, and I could come by whenever I was ready to get the items. That was 4 years ago, and I still have not retrieved my items.
The Spiral of Depression
In the weeks and months following the breakup, I was a walking zombie. I went through the motions each day. I canceled plans with friends, and I bowed out of family events. I started planning my grocery trips and errands during the daytime when I knew my ex would be at work. My heart could not take running into him in a public setting.
One morning as I was getting ready for work, I caught a deep glimpse of myself in the mirror. I had not really looked at myself in months. I looked worn down, ragged, sallow and sunken. I had lost a considerable amount of weight, and I was merely existing. There was no excitement and no joy in my life. Put simply, I was depressed. He was my first true love, and losing your first true love is a devastation that I wish upon no one.
In that very moment, as I stared at the unfamiliar woman looking back at me in the mirror, I got a glimmer of hope and happiness. A warm smile came over me out of nowhere. I felt instant gratitude. I was lucky. I was fortunate enough to have experienced what it feels like to truly and deeply be in love with another human being. I felt empowered and blessed. At that moment, I knew that true love existed and felt that I would feel it again someday. I had a successful and beautiful relationship. Each partner felt fulfilled, supported, uplifted and important. I was not terrible at relationships. I was just terrible in relationships with the wrong people.
That was the first morning in months where I took the time to put on makeup, do my hair and put on a favorite outfit. I felt a spark. It may have been a small spark, but it was a spark.
How I Started Practicing Yoga
One of my closest friends had mentioned that she wanted to overhaul her health. She was a massage therapist and was considering learning how to make her own kombucha. She also wanted to start attending weekly yoga sessions. She had invited me on a few occasions over the past few months, but I had politely declined the invitations. I decided that I was going to reach out to her. I called her up and asked if she had started attending sessions at a local yoga studio. She had been a few times, but she had not made it a structured part of her week. I asked her if the invitation was still open for me to accompany her to the studio. She was elated to hear that I wanted to embark on this journey with her.
I went to my local sporting goods store and purchased a yoga mat, a yoga travel bag, a couple of tank tops with built-in bras and some capri yoga leggings. Armed with my yoga bag and a bottle of water, I headed to the studio with my friend two days later. I did not have any expectations that day as I walked into the well-lit studio, but I can tell you that after only an hour, I walked out of that studio a new woman.
Here is what yoga taught me about myself, about strength and about what is most important in life.
Yoga Taught Me How To Be Present
Yoga is an experience that unites the mind, body, and spirit. With a focus on each breath and a slow and gentle transition from one pose to another, you learn to focus on the curve of your body, the way your breathing sounds in your ear and the energy you feel with each deep breath. You begin to feel your energy increase as your body takes in oxygen. You begin to feel alive as you take in your surroundings. These people, all together with you, are united in embracing the same physical, emotional and mental experience. You all have an unspoken bond just by being together in this space and time together.
Yoga Taught Me How To Meditate
As you become entranced with hearing your breath and counting how long you inhale and exhale, you begin to transcend to a new place. Your head fills with contemplative thoughts about life. Your obsessions and fears come to the surface, but yoga helps you identify them and lets them go in a peaceful and fluid manner. I gained so much clarity from meditating during my yoga sessions.
Uniting my senses gave me the insight and focus I needed to give my life new direction. I set new goals during my silent yoga sessions, I worked through self-doubt and addressed things that were plaguing me. Yoga became my silent counselor and my greatest teacher.
Yoga Taught Me Gratitude
I began to feel grateful in the gracefulness of the way my body moved as well as my increased flexibility, strength and endurance. I felt grateful that I could execute the moves with such fluidity. I felt proud of every inch of my skin. I regained my confidence with each breath. I felt grateful for the floor beneath me, for my new yoga friends, for my family, my career, my health, and my life experiences. Gratitude and humility are essentially one in the same.
As I became increasingly grateful, I became more humble. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I began feeling proud of myself and my achievements. I began to recognize that my heartbreak and loss had to happen so that it could launch me into this next beautiful phase of my life. As my perspective shifted to a more positive outlook, the people around me changed. Strangers, family, and friends all seemed happier, lights were brighter and the future was full of sunshine.
I heard from a mutual friend that my ex got married and had children a few years after our split. My reaction when I heard the news? I smiled. My heart was filled with warmth and happiness.
You can follow more of Kayla’s stories on the Ourstart blog
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kayla Clough is the email specialist at OurStart. Kayla is a recent graduate of Eastern University in PA where she majored in Marketing and Human Resources. Kayla loves all things fashion, her golden retriever Max, and coffee. When she is not working, you can find her binge-watching Sex in the City and baking her latest find on Pinterest.