The hours that follow your ex-telling you, “We need to talk” are brutal. You’re hurt, confused and scared. You’re unsure what to do next, so maybe you decide to distract yourself with the things that make you happy.
Whether that’s binging on your favorite TV show, surrounding yourself with the people you love or sweating it out in the gym, you should just do whatever makes you feel the most at peace. For me, that’s yoga.
These postures, along with very patient friends and family, helped me get through my breakup, and I hope they help you, too.
1. The rawest days
I found myself extremely uncomfortable in any poses that required lying on my back or “opening” my heart. It made me feel too exposed. I needed my back toward the world, dim lights and slow movement.
Physically ground yourself. Let the ground support you as you melt your body the floor. With your knees mat-distance apart, let your stomach sink to your thighs and ease your arms in front of you.
Press the palms into the floor and count 10 of the longest breaths. Inch your left arm to the right and let your armpit yawn to the right. Do the same thing on the other side.
Close your eyes, let the breath set the pace and pretend you are somewhere else. Go to all fours and curl your back looking down at your belly button.
Stretch your neck from side to side. Uncurl into cat pose, and then look up and let your belly drop.
Standing Forward Bend
Feel the tightness release from the back of your legs and neck. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and toes rooted to the ground.
Raise your arms up to the sky and fold your back over the front of your thighs, bringing the crown of your head toward the ground.
Hold onto opposite elbows, let your head go, bend your knees and shake it out.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Take up as much space as you need. Stand with your legs about mat-distance apart and let your body fold toward the ground. Hang your head down and bring your hands to the floor as you bend each knee to feel a deeper stretch.
Give yourself a little love by bringing your hands to the back of your neck and massaging underneath your hairline.
Open your hips and find space in your own body to let go. In a comfy seat, create a wide diamond with your legs. Gently fold your head to the space between your feet like it’s filling a custom space. Take 10 slow breaths. To exit, close your knees like a book and hug your knees tightly. Remind yourself you are always enough.
2. Confused days
Should you text or call? Unfollow on Instagram? Delete their friends on Snapchat?
Send that love letter email you just poured my soul into?
Do you feel better or worse? During these days, I just wanted to go up and down, side to side and start moving.
Standing Side Stretches
Stretch out the tension from your sides. Standing firmly with all edges of your feet rooted into the ground, raise your hands overhead and grab your left wrist with your right hand and deeply stretch it to the right.
Relax your shoulders, and repeat on the other side.
Let your body set the pace and your mind give into the repetition of the sequence.
Start in downward dog and jump to your hands. Rise to mountain pose and forward fold, and then half lift, fold back down and go through your chaturanga to upward dog. Repeat over and over again.
Plank With An Arm Twist
Connect with your heartbeat in a sturdy plank pose.
Hold a plank. Bring your right arm over your left chest and press firmly, feeling your heartbeat. Hold for three breaths. Repeat on the left.
Stretch back into downward dog and repeat.
Feel the adrenaline from running and balance through the support of your arms holding your body up. In plank pose, stretch your left leg back and up a few inches off the ground.
Bring your left knee to your right elbow, reverse and repeat for a minute.
Do this same sequence in forearm plank for 30 seconds.
Wring out your body with the strength of your core. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged seat, and put your fingertips on your shoulders and elbows out wide.
Using your core, twist your right elbow to the center and left elbow to the center. Go fast.
Seated Side Bend
Bend it out and breathe space into your body.
In a criss-cross seat, raise your right arm and stretch it to the left. Focus on keeping your left shoulder heavy and your seat grounded, and even it out on the other side.
Then, lift both arms up at the same time and fold over your knees. Stay.
3. Angry days
Like most people, your sadness will be replaced by anger eventually.
My first angry day came after I was Venmo stalking. I saw alcohol payments to friends and realized he was moving on with his life.
He was out partying, having a good time without me. Why wasn’t he sad and miserable without me?
Why wasn’t he begging for me to come back? On that day, I simply wanted to feel fierce.
You don’t even need that chair to support yourself!
Pretend you are sitting in an invisible chair. Raise your arms in front of you with palms facing each other.
Put so much energy into your hands that you feel like you could poke a hole in the space in front of you with your force.
The deeper the thighs, the tighter the posture and the stronger you will feel.
Compacted anger feels more controllable. Stand up tall with your arms overhead. Wrap your right leg over your left and bend your knees.
Then, swing your right arm under your left – elbows kissing – and press your palms together with purpose. Bring your elbows up to your face and breathe.
Even out on the other side.
The louder the grunt, the lighter you’ll feel. Shift into a high lunge and put your balance into your forward foot.
Let your back leg feel light, extend your arms high in front of you and form a fist.
Tilt your stomach toward the ground and channel all of the anger into that back leg. Fiercely kick forward and imagine all of the negativity evaporating into the air. Grunt loudly.
This is called fierce pose for a reason! With your legs wider than you think (usually four feet), tilt your back foot slightly inward and bend your front knee to a 90-degree angle.
If your big toe was an eye, you would want it looking directly ahead of you. Your knee should be over your ankle, and you should be able to see your toes peeking out.
Keep your back leg straight and stretch the arms away from the space between your shoulder blades and bring them parallel to the floor. Hold for 10 breaths.
Change your perspective with a simple arm stretch. From warrior II pose, reach your forward arm up over your head behind you, keeping your forward knee firmly bent. Look up at your higher hand with both eyes.
4. Empowered days
Some days, I would wake up with clarity. I’d understand everything happens for a reason.
I’d revel in the fact that I could hit up more happy hours with my friends, catch up on “This Is Us” and make spaghetti squash without hearing complaints that it doesn’t taste like real pasta. During those days, I wanted to feel strong, take up space and soar.
Empower yourself by firing up your core. Simply hold this pose and let the strength build inside your core for a minute. Then, go down to your forearms and hold for a minute.
Go back to a plank for 30 seconds, and then forearm plank for 30 seconds.
Open your chest and embrace your inner goddess. Stand with legs about 3 feet apart with each foot at a 45-degree angle facing the corners of the room. Bend the elbows at shoulder height, and let the palms face each other. Bend the knees over the toes as you squat down. With equal strength, press the hips forward and knees back. Let your shoulders relax and keep chest lifted.
High Lunge Into Warrior III
Feel yourself fly.
From a high lunge, put so much weight into your forward foot, your back leg simply lifts off the ground.
Square your hips and flex your lifted foot, so it feels like you could stamp the back wall.
Launch your arms back like wings or forward like you’re reaching for something better to come.
Hold yourself up with your two hands. Go into a low squat and plug your knees into your armpits. With your arms in front of you and palms on the ground, slowly lift your feet off the ground and lean your head towards the ground.
It doesn’t matter how long you hold the pose, but knowing you can support yourself with your two hands does.
Downward Dog Into Flipped Dog
Feel downward dog from a new angle. From downward dog lift your right leg up in the air and stretch it high, breathing tons of space in your hip and quad.
Then, flip it. Let your lifted foot find the floor behind you, and lift your right arm up for an open stretch.
It’s OK if your hips sink down. Then, do another side.
Bridge Pose-Full Wheel
Open your heart up to the sky, and let it breathe. Lie on your back with your knees bent. You should be able to touch your heels with your fingertips. Lift your tailbone and seat up with your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp your hands below your pelvis, and shimmy your shoulders closer to your head. If it feels right, lift to a full wheel
5. Peaceful days
The break-up playlist doesn’t bring you to tears anymore.
The things that remind you of that person still remind you of him or her, but they don’t make you cry.
It is what it is.
Upward Facing Dog
Feel space open in your chest as you look at what’s ahead. Scoop your chest forward, balancing on the tops of your feet and your hands.
Lower your head back between your shoulder blades, and rest your shoulder blades down.
Embrace your stability as you spread your arms open.
Go into a reverse warrior and bring your back foot in a few inches. Straighten your forward leg and stretch the back arm down your ankle. Feel the space between your hips smile.
Increase the flexibility of your spine, the connector between your brain and your body.
Stand on your knees and reach your palms to your lower back with the fingers toward the floor. Slowly inch them back toward your feet and grab your heels (curl your toes to bring the heels closer).
Lift your chest and let your head hang.
Heart-Opening Hero Pose
Be patient with yourself and find ease with a strap if you need it. Sit up tall on your knees and slowly raise your right arm up. Bend your right elbow and let your forearm drape behind your back.
Then grab your right hand with your left hand behind your back.
Release any tension in your hips and feel your heartbeat. You’re going to be OK. Sit with your legs extended in front of you.
Bend your right knee and place your right heel up by your left hip bone.
Then bend your left knee and pull your left heel over your right shin and place it by your right hip bone.
Put your right hand over your chest and your left hand over your right hand.