Using Yoga to Heal Heartache When You’ve Loved and Lost


waheedAh, heartache. No one invites you over and asks you to sit down for tea, and yet, we’ve all had times when you were our constant companion. One of the best things in life is shared connection, and many people seek to find that in their romantic relationships. Of course we have our family, our close friends, those people who truly know us and cherish us for who we are, and that is genuine intimacy. Those are the people who are gifts in our lives, and should never be taken for granted. It’s human to want to find that same connection in a special someone, and yet, it’s not always so easy.

There are a lot of ways we might sabotage our chances for true love. Sometimes our desire for it blinds us to reality, and we fall into a relationship with someone who seems amazing in those first few heady months, but then turns out not to be as available as we’d thought. I’ve worked with countless people who’ve fallen into that trap over the years, and I think it’s very common. Those first few months are supposed to be intoxicating, that’s how our species has survived all this time. The thing is, it takes quite awhile to get to know someone well, and it helps when the lust/dust settles, because it’s really hard to see when that stuff is flying all over the place! So maybe you let yourself go, and then realized too late that this person you thought you knew is not exactly what you’d imagined or hoped s/he would be. A lot of people can do the beginning, “fun” part well, but run when things get real.

There are a million other possibilities of course. Sometimes we’re betrayed, neglected or abused. Sometimes we find ourselves in relationships that are crushing the soul and the hope out of us. Sometimes we’re abandoned or rejected. Sometimes we’re left in the most profound way, through no one’s choosing. Whatever you’re dealing with, first, know you are not alone. We’ve all been through intense heartbreak. Secondly, take comfort in the fact that there are some tools related to the practice of yoga that can help you through this difficult chapter.

1. Trust that how you feel now is not how you will always feel

It’s a funny thing about heartache, depression and listlessness. Rationally, we might know that the feelings won’t last forever, but when we’re in it, it’s sometimes hard to remember that. One of the gifts of practicing yoga is that you hold a lunge for twelve breaths, and you feel that burning, uncomfortable feeling in your quadriceps, but you breathe through it and train your nervous system and your mind to stay calm and trust that you aren’t going to hold the lunge forever. Those same tools show up for you in life, when you’re going through tough times.

2. Remember that this is how you grow, and know yourself more deeply

None of us would ask to have our hearts broken, but I bet if you look back on your life, you can recognize that your most incredible times of growth sprung directly out of your most difficult and challenging periods. Sometimes it’s the hardest lessons that end up granting us the greatest joy, because we rise up. When I teach, I often give the cue to “root down and rise up”, but that’s not just a physical alignment cue, it’s an emotional one, too. You know about the lotus flower? This gorgeous white blossom that arises out of the mud. We all have “mud”. There’s a saying: “No mud, no lotus”. You get to decide how to grow beauty out of your pain. You get to determine what you’re going to do with this new information you have to carry forward with you. This will help you to stay connected to your intuition next time, and trust the “no” when you feel it, or trust the “yes” if it’s there.

3. Yoga teaches us to open to reality as it is, which is not always as we’d like it to be

The best way to prolong your pain is to deny, resist, or repress it. It’s perhaps not the most intuitive thing, but the more you lean into your pain, allow it to arise, acknowledge it, and give yourself permission to feel all the feelings you need to feel, the sooner it will lose its grip on you. When we avoid certain poses in yoga, for example, because they’re confrontational, we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to grow and open. The same is true when we try to avoid painful feelings. Trust in your strength. The sad feelings won’t do you in, but trying to deny them might.

4. Move your body

Really, one of the very best things you can do is get in your body and breathe and sweat and open. Release some endorphins, open the space at the front of your heart, and breathe deeply again. It will clear your mind and create ease in your body.

Yoga has gotten me through more heartbreaks than I’d like to count, but it’s also given me the tools to come home to myself. I don’t need anyone else to complete me, I’m complete. I’m at ease within myself. It took years of work and dedication, but it was so worth it, because this is something no one can ever take from you. That way, when you enter a relationship, you do it out of want, and not need, and you do it with your eyes open. When you move through the exciting beginning, you enjoy yourself, but you don’t lose your center. When warning signals arise, you perk up and pay attention. You don’t sweep things under the rug, you bring them into the light so you can communicate about them. Beyond all of that, though, you learn to love and cherish your own tender heart, and that is the best intimacy there is.


Sending you love, and wishing you peace,


Ally Hamilton


P.S. If you’re in need of extra support, I do life coaching sessions over Skype. Email me at: [email protected] for more information.

Leave a Reply