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“Yoga is more than just twisting your body into weird shapes, it’s a system for living well”

As my marriage was falling apart around me, there was one thing that kept me from falling apart…yoga.

I’m not talking about just turning up to a class and forgetting about the fact that my life was falling apart for an hour. In fact, during some classes, I can tell you, I felt the full extent of my separation right there on the yoga mat. What I’m talking about is yoga, in all its glory, as a way of ‘doing’ life, as a way of being…as a…practice.

To keep myself together I focused on doing a few simple things every day. My daily practice. In yoga it is called ‘Sadhana’.

Yoga is more than just twisting your body into weird shapes, it’s a system for living well. One great lesson I learned through yoga is how to be an observer. Yoga taught me to separate ‘me’ from my emotions. Not to avoid them, but to witness them. Feel my emotions rather than letting them control me. It taught me how to be in the calm centre of the emotional storm that was my marriage falling very unceremoniously apart.

What helped?

1) Literally, breathing…
Or, more correctly…focusing on my breath.

It seems like such an easy thing, doesn’t it? But because my mind was crazy busy trying to make sense of what seemed so senseless, my breath was often the last thing I could think about, and so I focused on a mantra which connected me to my breath. Every time I felt the craziness coming on I would recite my mantra – whether it was in my mind, quietly under my breath, out loud, while driving, in the Centrelink queue, whilst trying to hold it together in front of the kids, whilst curled up on the couch or in a puddle of tears on the bathroom floor, or even whilst striking a yoga pose. I could to it anywhere, anytime, for five second or an hour, whatever time I could afford.

At the time I used the mystical Buddhist Nichiren mantra, “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” as it is a chant that is supposed to bring out the Buddha nature in us all.

I felt better when I repeated this mantra. My mind became quiet and things became clearer.

You could use a different mantra. Find one that resonates for you. Here are some examples:

“Om Shanti” – I am peace.
“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” – May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

Now, my favourite mantra is the very ancient Guyatri mantra:
“Om bhur bhuvah svaha, tat-savitur varenyam, bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prachodayath” – Let us meditate on the light of the sun which represents God, and may our thoughts be inspired by that divine light. Deva Premal sings this mantra beautifully. Download it and hit ‘repeat’ until the world begins to feel a little better… and it will.

2) Simple yoga poses…
Along with breathing and repeating my mantra, simple yoga poses not only stretch and awaken the body, they can make you feel more grounded or empowered, relieve stress or provide a calming sensation. A very simple yoga pose to ease stress, and one that I found myself naturally inclined to use whilst in the early fog of my separation is Child’s Pose (Balasana). To take Child’s Pose, kneel with your feet under your bottom and put your head on the floor with your arms beside you.

Child's Pose

3) Keep a journal…
Or even better, keep several journals. I kept one to write out all my crappy emotions and thoughts, better out (on paper) than in! One where I wrote everything I was grateful for, another for things to do and everything that needed recording.

Yoga fosters gratitude. It teaches appreciation, or at least it taught me to see all things clearly, as they really are – not worse or better. It taught me to  know that my feelings about my situation would pass so I could be honest, gentle, compassionate and grateful.  It taught me to be thankful for my friends and family who showed up for me in a difficult time, thankful for government assistance, thankful for the charities that helped the kids and I, thankful for my yoga teacher who extended her graciousness to me, thankful for the opportunity to let go of my marriage and to be open to loving again.

I attended yoga classes a few times a week, but you could get a DVD or book or take a class on the internet, or even just lie on the floor on your back and breathe. I cried in some classes, emotional release…granted, I tried to choke back the sobs and let the tears roll silently down my cheeks, but it felt…better!

So, every day I repeated my mantra, wrote down the things I was grateful for and did Child’s Pose. It helped. Give it a try and see if you feel better too.


My name is Rebel and I love yoga. I am married and am a mum to 3 kids and step-mum to two more. I first did a yoga class when I was about 14 years old with my mum. That class was one of the things that sparked an interested in body-mind-soul studies and since then I have been a keen student of all things natural and spiritual. I was a fitness leader in Sydney for over a decade and qualified in Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Shiatsu, Reflexology, Remedial Therapies, Aromatherapy, Counselling and NLP. I had successful practices in both Sydney and then Melbourne. Along the way I have practiced different styles of Yoga, including 2 years of Bikram, before moving to the Territory. For me, Yoga embodies everything I live by in life and so finally I decided to take a teacher training to learn even more about the history and practice of yoga. In particular, I love the philosophy and principles for living better. I have found that living a yogic life allows me to find contentment – Santosha. I love practicing and teaching a lovely flowing Vinyasa style Hatha. Every time I step on to my mat I bring a new me and I feel my way through the Asanas. My body, mind and soul love it. I hope you do too.

Yours in well-being

Image courtesy of arztsamui /

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