June 15, 2012

Yoga for Heartbreak. ~ Melanie Angel Medeiros


The infamous euphemism to describe the throbbing ache in your chest when the one you love (or even just really like) does not reciprocate.

It may follow the end of a long-term relationship, a short-term affairor even the realization that the one-night stand with the person you actually, secretly, really like is just going to remain a one night stand. No matter what the circumstance, heartbreak just plain hurts.

When consoling my friends through heartbreak I give them a large dose of yoga philosophy. I council them to follow Patanjali’s second yoga sutra yoga citta vrtti nirodhah. Yoga is the control of thought-waves in the mind.[i]

Don’t let yourself analyze the situation. Don’t wonder what if. Don’t imagine your former partner/object of your affection with another person. Don’t let your thoughts take you in a direction that is only going to lead you to feel worse. Control your thoughts towards positive affirmations about yourself. You are amazing. Repeat it in your head (and out loud) over and over again until you really believe it.

When you succeed in controlling your thoughts you will arrive at the third of the yoga sutras: tada drastuh svarupe vasthanam. It is when the seer dwells in his own true splendor.[ii] Then you will realize if that person is meant for you or not. Then you will realize there will be others, because others or another won’t be able to stay away from such levels of awesomeness.

The Yamas (restraints) and Niyamas (observances) are guidelines to learn from and live by in any situation, including a soothing balm of logic for your heartbreak.

Ahimsa means non-violence. Do not judge yourself as not being good enough for this person. Don’t even go there. Understand that this person not reciprocating your feelings has nothing to do with you, and don’t give into the temptation to doubt and judge who you are. Because you are amazing, remember?

Satya is truthfulness. Be honest with yourself. Are you mourning the loss of this person, or the severe bruise to your fragile ego? The two are almost impossible to distinguish from each other as our egos are so connected to our feelings for others. However, if (in some cases) you acknowledge that this person or the relationship was not actually working for you either, it becomes easier to understand the powerful role our egos play in feeling heartbreak.

Aparigraha is detachment. Try and detach yourself from this person, not from the feelings you have or memories of them, but from the hope and expectations of something more or from thinking you need them to be happy. Happiness is within you, not something another person can do for you. Let go of this person and discover all the ways you make yourself happy.

Santosha is contentment. Be content with and grateful for the other people in your life, your friends and your family who acknowledge how truly wonderful you are and love you unconditionally. It’s hard to be grateful when you are hurting, but in remembering all that we have, what we’ve lost is diminished, at least a little bit.

Ishvara Pranidhana means to surrender to divine will. Trust that the universe knows what it is doing. It knows that there is someone or something better out there for you. It is guiding you on your path, and this person is not part of it.

Ishvara pranidhana is the gift of knowing that things are not in our control and the freedom to let life happen.

And if or when the philosophical advice doesn’t quite do the trick, then turn to your yoga mat. Or turn to your yoga mat first. Either way you will feel better. The practice of asanas (postures), pranayama (control of the inner patterns of breath), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (single pointed awareness) and dhyana (meditation) has the incredible ability of making us whole again.

On our mats we are strong, independent, powerful, gentle, balanced and at peace. On our mats, when our breath, movements and thoughts are in line with one another that ache begins to subside, the hopelessness and sadness begins to dissipate. Our mats become a flying carpet, taking us away from our pain and leading us one step closer to bliss.


[i] Swami Prabhavananda, Christopher Isherwood, trans., How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali (Vedanta Press, 1996).

[ii] B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Schocken, 1995).


Melanie Angel Medeiros is a certified vinyasa yoga instructor, sociocultural medical anthropologist, and birth doula. She teaches yoga and conducts research on contemporary relationships and mental health in Brazil, gives both solicited and unsolicited advice, and has to remind herself that she is amazing at least once a day.
[email protected], www.halfmoonyogaproject.net, Half  Moon Yoga Facebook Page




Editor: Seychelles Pitton

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