The Yoga of Mending a Broken Heart—Fast.

Via Kathryn Budig
on Aug 8, 2009
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How to Mend a Broken Heart.  Fast.

You could call me a bit of a pro in the “I’ve been dumped” department.  Sure, I’ve ended plenty of relationships myself, but I know all too well what it’s like to be on the opposite end.  I’ve had my fair share of heartache—but to be fair, I’ve also had a good dose of absolute love and joy. Unfortunately, of course, it’s difficult to remember the good when you’re neck deep in sadness.

Let’s face it, breakups just suck.
There really isn’t any getting around it, but there are ways of surviving with grace and dare I say, hope.  And best of all, we can pass the knowledge we’ve gained along to one another. To that end, I’ve rummaged together a list of the best ways I’ve found to survive a broken heart. I hope they help you as much as they have helped me.

Pity Party for One, Please
If only we could only all be emotionally and spiritually stable enough to look at a breakup with our eyes open to what the other person is saying and see the lesson. Then all literature and film would be incredibly boring, US Weekly would go bankrupt and there would be an Arctic freeze on ice cream sales. Let’s face it, it’s human nature to feel pain and sadness when you lose a loved one—especially when love becomes unrequited. Many people tend to go straight into what I like to call a “pity party.”  They gather up their closest girlfriends and all trash the ex-dude until the girl feels slightly better about herself again.

“What a liar,” “He was way too short anyway,” “I can’t believe he dumped you through an e-mail, what a lack of balls!” and “You are so much better than him, we never liked him at all.” It goes on and on.

Unfortunately, what we don’t do is actually believe what’s said to us during a break-up.  Perhaps the information that’s given to us is actually the real transcript, and not a fancy code for us to decipher. I’m not saying that there can’t be extremely heavy emotional baggage behind what is said during a break-up, but why not practice listening? Your perception of the relationship is never the same as theirs, as much as we want it to be.  Once you can actually hear what someone is saying to you, you can be grateful that they are either showing you their true self, which often isn’t what you signed up for anyway—or you’ll learn so much about yourself and the choices you make in relationships. Work from a place of gratitude, not blame and pity. Apply a two-part formula: courage and kindness. The pity party is an extremely long dinner that always runs too long and has an outrageous check to pay in the end.

Taking the Scenic Route
I think I’ve met “the man I’ve been waiting for” at least three times (four, if you count puppy love in high school). You know who I mean: that guy who you can see your entire future with, the one that makes you test out whether his last name would sound better on its own or hyphenated, the one that makes everything else around you seem like a blur.

Suddenly, a blur turns into a splat, and the magic is over. Endgame. You’re out of coins. Time to close shop and go home. It often feels like we’ve reached the end of the road—and at the end of the road where you’d hope for a chair lift or 3-Series, you see nothing but a bottomless pit.

Okay, it’s fun to be dramatic, but let’s look at it this way.  Your break-up wasn’t the endgame.  In fact, it’s simply a step closer to where you’re going.  Every time we have a relationship, we grow emotionally and spiritually.  Lessons are given and learned, which means that you are always moving up.  When one relationship ends, you don’t shrivel and die with it.  If you thought he was great, it’s only getting better.  It’s the universe saying, “Oh, Honey, stop! You thought this was as good as it gets?! No, no, we’re not stopping here! Wait until you see what fabulousness I have in store for you!”

Keep keepin’ on.  Remember, it’s always darkest before the dawn, and you’ve got some wonderful bright and sunny days in store.

“It Ain’t No Party Being Hung Up on an Asshole.”
My dear friend said this to me in my time of need, and after I was done laughing, I realized the simple yet powerful truth within her witty words. Why?  Because I spent a solid six months of my life doing just that. There is absolutely no romance or glamour in clinging to a past love that has treated you wrong.  If you really want to dig deep, look into why you’re hanging on to someone (or the idea of someone) who has mistreated you.  The answer will have nothing to do with them, but rather issues within yourself.  I’ve hung on because I was convinced that certain men were going to be the father of my children or that they were going to provide the life I always wanted.  I’ve dated men that have held onto the idea of their ex even as they claim to be enamored with me, even when their past relationships clearly had major hiccups.  Just remember that true beauty comes from the release. It’s like a bar of wet soap—if you hold on too hard, it will go shooting madly out of your hands and be extremely difficult to pick back up again. So loosen the grip. Know when it’s time to let go, and let yourself breathe again.

And hang up on that asshole, already.

Dude, Pass the Sage
Okay, bear with me. I know burning sage to cleanse your space and spirit may sound hokey, but it’s a tradition that’s been around for a looooong time.  In fact, the burning of sage is often referred to as a “smudging ceremony.” The botanical name for sage is Salvia, which comes from the Latin root salvare, which means “to heal.”  The purpose of this ceremony is to encourage the releasing of bad energy and negativity, both physically and spiritually.  I personally like to sage my entire space, lingering in the areas where I have the most memory.  As I visit each space, I say a small prayer asking the universe, God, the gods (whatever we believe in), to help me to release, forgive, find gratitude and pull in exactly what I’m looking for.  I’m not saying that this will instantly cure you, Harry Potter style, but I always feel the load lighten as I see the smoke coil off and into the sky taking my negativity with it.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall:
This one can be hard to stomach, but we almost always mirror ourselves in relationships.  The issues that we saw in our significant other often stem from the same tree as our problems. Which is why it is so important not to go to a place of anger right now. It’s the simple route: I hate you, you betrayed me, you lied to me, I’ll never forgive you. Anger is so much easier than sadness. But if you can move past the anger and look at what’s been put on the table, it might just have a lovely satin bow on it.

In fact, I just got relieved from a Jeckyl and Hyde-like situation where I put much of my focus on trying to understand which side of the man I should believe.  One part of him was absolutely adoring and gave me the relationship I had always wanted…and the other side had one foot in the door and one wearing primo Nikes on the way out. His duality confused me, but meanwhile I had the duality of being blissfully content on one side of the coin and not trusting that he had made a true space for us, and feeling like he would drop me on the other. Let’s face it,  we’re all complicated beings and often confused beings. Don’t sit on the throne looking down on their issues. Step off, get down and look them in the eyes, because you’ll see your reflection in theirs and start to learn.

Ma’am, Step Away from the Computer
There are only so many times you can check your email or their Facebook/Twitter updates to wish you knew where they were or what’s going on in their head. Face the facts, sister: he’s not sending you subliminal messages through his page and refreshing your email every six minutes won’t energetically pull him toward you (or convince him to write a huge gushy email explaining how badly they *ucked up).  So turn off your electronics devices and get outside to tune in with what really matters. Reconnecting with nature is a powerful force that will often make you realize how small and silly your situation can be. Go to the ocean if you’re near water (always a magnificant and humbling experience ), go admire the beauty of the moon, the ever watchful guardian power of the stars, or watch dogs and children run and play to reconnect with the awesome force of unconditional love. Allow your mind to rest, and get back in tune with your body.

Face Plant
We’ve already established that yoga can be a powerful healing force, but let’s look even deeper into it.  Everyone has fallen out of a pose.  Whether it is something as simple as falling out of tree pose or something as dramatic as face planting from an arm balance, we’ve all been there. Even though the fall can be an embarrassing moment, I can’t say I’ve ever gone home obsessed with the fact that I fell. I start to think about why I fell, and what can I do next time to make the pose stronger. How can I approach it differently to be okay in balance, and even be okay with falling down? I focus on getting stronger, not that brief moment of embarrassment. It’s the same here, ladies. Don’t put all of your energy into the fact that the relationship fell apart. Look at your toolbox and see how you can build yourself stronger so next time you’ll have that experience you’ve always been wanting.  Maybe the arm balance will come, too.

Moving Prayer
Unroll your yoga mat. Now. The power of yoga and intention is amazing. I want you to think of your body as a moving prayer. Set your intention at the beginning of your practice. If a home practice threatens you, simply repeat Sun Salutations (video below) and end with long holds in your hip openers. With each inhale, breathe in what you need, with each exhale breathe out any resistance to what you need, anything that does not serve you. Envision a ball of goodness surrounding you and supporting you.  There is always support, we just need to be okay with asking for it, but the support starts with you. Do this practice everyday, even if only for five minutes. This daily prayer or meditation will begin to remind you what really matters in your life and help you get back on track.

Namaste, ya’ll, and happy healing!

kathryn budigKathryn Budig is one of ele’s favorite yoga teachers in the whole wide world. Follow her at @kathrynbudig or on Facebook here.

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About Kathryn Budig

Kathryn is a lover and teacher of yoga by day, a wizard in the kitchen by dinner time and a professional dog snuggler at night. Follow Kathryn @kathrynbudig or on Facebook. Find her at


21 Responses to “The Yoga of Mending a Broken Heart—Fast.”

  1. JAJ says:

    A wry, cheeky, fantastic view of break-ups. A way to avoid self-pity and learn the true lessons. Kudos!

  2. Lynn Sanchez: Funny and true!!!

  3. Shane says:

    If more people used break-ups as an opportunity for growth and self-reflection, the world would be a much better place…

  4. sublimekesel says:

    Many times I think our feminine optimism that belief that people are inherently good and worthy of our love is what keeps us bound to "the wrong ones." Acquiescing to the fact that he is not good enough for us is somewhat tragic, especially in the "asshole" context, because it sucks to care about someone who really is just an illusion. That duality you mention can be so tricky to navigate, and it really does help to reflect on the negative qualities instead of playing the "but" game. (i.e. he's super jealous and possessive, but he cooks the most amazing eggplant parmesan…) For me, it always helped to hear others' stories of how they were in that place and somehow managed to acknowledge and move on.

  5. sublimekesel says:

    Many times I think our feminine optimism (that belief that people are inherently good and worthy of our love) is what keeps us bound to "the wrong ones." Acquiescing to the fact that he is not good enough for us is somewhat tragic, especially in the "asshole" context, because it sucks to care about someone who really is just an illusion. That duality you mention can be so tricky to navigate, and it really does help to reflect on the negative qualities instead of playing the "but" game. (i.e. he's super jealous and possessive, but he makes the most amazing eggplant parmesan…) For me, it always helped to hear others' stories of how they were in that place and somehow managed to acknowledge and move on.

  6. Joey Barry says:

    Best Sun Salutation I have ever seen……………Very good antidote for relationship loss (wish I had practiced some

    of your tips in 2006). In process of moving to duplex in Westwood. Congrats on your continued growth/success.

    xxoo…………Joseph B.

  7. As they say in Buddhism, bring obstacles to the path!

  8. pat says:

    thankyou. still love love love my ex. he's lovely but…. you know the story. and for the last few weeks this woman who loves yoga has been afraid to practice asana let alone have my practice as a prop to my learning the life lesson my "failed" relationship has for me. i mean, is there room for my broken heart on the mat? so thankyou for spelling it out. of course there is. so im back on the mat to a true love that will, like the best relationships, change as i grow and age but will be with me breath after breath. x

  9. […] Keep keepin’ on. How to Mend A Broken Heart. Fast. […]

  10. […] year ago on this day I suffered an awful psoas muscle injury.  The worst part was there wasn’t an actual movement that […]

  11. […] Budig ain’t big, she’s rather petite (by all reports. Though she writes a bit for elephant, and is an emerging yogastar (having been featured on cover of Yoga Journal, and […]

  12. gwenbell says:

    One sun salutation teaches you everything you ever needed to know about a person

  13. […] We don’t know Faith, but we hear great things from her friend and our columnist, KB. […]

  14. Aurora says:

    Lovely points. Made me giggle:)

  15. Lucas P says:

    Thank you for this post! I am right in the wake of ending a 5 year relationship with my beautiful fiance… ex-fiance :-). I just started a regular yoga practice about 3 weeks ago during one of the toughiest times since we broke up. I had found out she was dating someone new after less than a month of us spilting up. The peace and focus I am finding in my parctice has helped guide my healing. All the points you bring to the table are exactly where I'm currently arriving. I will always love her deeply and have had some great leasons in true nonjudgement, compassion and trust through this break up. Thanks for the reminders and affirmation that I am on a great path to healing. With strength, poise, honesty and compassion I step forward and on to my mat for greater peace and a beautiful future. Namaste

  16. KelsiC says:

    I first read this article in 2009, when I was going through a totally horrid breakup/ existential crisis. Although the breakup (and crisis) carried on for months afterward, I kept returning to this article and your words. In my (very) humble opinion, this is one of the greatest articles on Elephant. I send this article to all of my friends who go through breakups (which happens very often, as we're all in our 20's). I appreciate your advice, as well as your humor, *so* much. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  17. […] I felt determined and inspired. There was nothing stopping me from getting the most out of opening my heart. […]

  18. […] feel compassion for this sweet, open-hearted, emotionally naked woman who was just dumped. I feel flawed, exposed, unlovable and yes, dumped. I feel like my lover and I both just disrobed for the first time, entranced by the thrill of our […]