How Yoga Can Help the Broken Heart
The words “It’s over” can be the most devastating two little words ever, that run in your head endlessly on loop, haunting you from the moment you open your eyes till the lonely moments you lay in bed alone surrounded by deafening silence before you fall asleep.
Name one person in the world that likes to get their heart truly and painfully broken and we will give you a million bucks.
Heartbreak is often trivialised in movies and sitcoms, but it is very, very real, and not something that can be easily fixed with a pint of B&J’s and your favorite sad movie. In fact, “broken heart syndrome” is an actual heart condition brought about by stressful situations, such as the loss of loved one, which breakups are. The pain one can feel from this syndrome can even be akin to having a heart attack!
Here are the 5 things that you go through when you get your heart broken – and yes, they’ll all suck – but don’t worry, we’ll also tell you how yoga can help make things better. And it isn’t some mambo-jumbo-sounding “breathe in peace, breathe out negativity” kind of thing, we promise.
1. It Hurts Like F
It hurts, everywhere, inside, outside, you can’t even pinpoint where exactly, but everything hurts and it feels like the pain will never cease. Your mental state is very closely intertwined with your physical state. Just as your heart felt like it was soaring through the air when you were newly in love, so too does your heart feel pangs of agony when it is figuratively broken. Your body really does go through a real physical and neurological process which leads to pain, nausea, tensed muscles and chest tightening.
HOW YOGA HELPS: We all know the numerous benefits yoga has on the physical body, thus physical aches, whether brought about by mental causes or not, can be effectively relieved through the various poses and asanas in yoga practice. And when things are tense, you can always trust yoga to untie your knots and loosen up tight muscles.
2. It’s Stressful
Breakups are very literally stressful. Gone out the window are the feelings of happiness brought about by the dopamine and oxytocin in your body. Now, all you experience in its place are stress hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and epinephrine, which tell your nervous system to get into fight-or-flight mode.
HOW YOGA HELPS: The various meditation and relaxation techniques in yoga practice helps modulate stress response systems, and reduce our heart rate, lower blood pressure and ease our respiration systems. You can literally breathe easier and feel calmer.
3. It’s Depressing
And not just because it makes us feel sad as hell, but because we could very easily spiral into a depression. According to Psychology Today, a study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University found that “losses that involved lower self-esteem were twice as likely to trigger depression.” Sound familiar? All those questions in your head like, “Was it me?” “Could I have done something better?” “Where did I go wrong?” We always take a personal hit when we go through breakups, and we can’t help that. Breakups are personal.
HOW YOGA HELPS: Yoga can thwart depression earlier than later, by naturally increasing serotonin production. According to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, “exercise increases brain serotonin function in the human brain” and “a comprehensive review of the relation between exercise and mood concluded that antidepressant and anxiolytic effects have been clearly demonstrated.” Or in English, exercises just like yoga raise our serotonin levels – which helps fight against depression.
4. You Would Want To Be Alone
Maybe you can’t even begin to think about leaving your bed. Maybe all you want to do is sit in the couch and cry and cry and cry. But isolating yourself can be a really scary place to be, especially as you fill your head with negative thoughts, when what you need is to get those dopamine levels up, stat. The best way to do this is by doing the things you love, activities that bring you joy. And we know what you’re thinking, “What joy??? How could I ever feel happy again when I’ve just lost the thing I love the most?”
HOW YOGA HELPS: It might seem like the last thing on your mind but dragging yourself to a room full of people in awkward poses will help you feel that you are, in fact, not alone, and that everyone is struggling with their own shit. Not to mention, where once your evenings were filled with texts, calls and dinners, it’s best to keep yourself busy by filling the void with something else – so why not something productive and meaningful that brings benefits to your body, mind and soul?
5. YOU’LL DOUBT YOURSELF
As we said earlier, our self-esteem takes a big hit when somebody literally rejects us and everything amazing about us and every good thing we stand for. Suddenly we don’t feel so confident anymore about ourselves. All these questions, fears and doubts flood our minds. Not to mention worries like, “Will I ever love again?” “What if I never meet the right person for me?” “Will I be #foreveralone?” are completely natural.
HOW YOGA HELPS: And that’s why on the mat is the perfect place to be. You don’t doubt yourself on the mat. You’re in control and you know exactly what your body can do or can’t do. You’ve done all these poses and asanas before. You know it like the back of hand. You’re so badass-ed you could even do it blindfolded. When you do something that comes naturally and so familiarly to you like your daily yoga practice, you can really appreciate yourself for what you have accomplished, and all that you will go on to accomplish. Even 15 minutes of yoga every day can give you the empowerment you need to remind yourself that you’re in control of your own destiny and you have the power to make things happen – even one day not too far from now, recovering from a broken heart.