There were many days, when I thought I had down my role as ‘head of household’. But then by the next day, I found myself begging the kids to help out, scrambling to make things come together, or just simply wiped out from not putting my feet up, or doing better self-care. When things got too overwhelming, I wept. I wept in the shower mostly. There were days I didn’t have enough energy to weep though, and my stomach would twist and turn instead – it was my internal weeping of sorts. I often wept because I wanted to do better than how I actually felt I was doing. I wanted to be a better parent, a better daughter (geez, wasn’t my mom tired of hearing me complain about things??), a better teacher, a better friend, better at self-care, and really, honestly, in a better mood! There were ‘bliss’ days when I thought I was doing great; and then before you knew it, I was spiraling down and trying to figure out how to keep my head above water again. I felt so inadequate at times. Yet at this same time, I knew deep in my bones, that this was a work in progress. I was a work in progress. And I needed to muster up some patience and some really deep self-compassion.
On one particular day, I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment. Not to get too personal here, but this realization arrived while in the shower. A warm shower has always been my little bit of self-care time of day. It is how I labored, and then birthed, my two children. It is where I’d go when my son was a toddler, and I needed a few minutes to myself (and I could still see him through the glass shower door to know he was safe). It is where I go when I just need two minutes to breathe in the warm steam; it is where I go when I need no one to ask me where something is, or when I will be done. It is my safe haven from the day, to create some space. To wash away everything – the joys, the sorrows, the smooth parts of the day, the rough and difficult parts – away. This led me to think of Purusha. You may ask, why is a shower related to Purusha? Purusha is pure consciousness, that wide open expansive space where everything can show up and be seen. It allows us to feel, witness, explore, and understand, in the deepest way, that we are no longer singular and narrowly focused in our thoughts. That by widening our view, like really really widening our view – like outer space widening if you need too – we can see how small these problems are compared to the vastness around us. And even more importantly, perhaps, we can very often see the solution. The solution may be obvious, or it may simply be we can step back a moment and see what is around us more clearly. Think of looking through a narrow slit of a window blind in your home, with binoculars, at the moon. You can see the moon, but it is not so easy to see what stars are around the moon, or even see if there are any clouds in the sky. When you step outdoors, removing yourself from behind the window blinds, what can you then see? You see the moon, the stars, the clouds, the beautiful sky. You see the space, the expansiveness. What once seemed like such a big deal, is small in comparison to the vastness of the sky around it.

Weeding & Breathing
There is something inherently satisfying about weeding. Most people get some sort of dopamine response from weeding in wet soil. (True, when the soil is dry weeding can sorta sucks.) There is so much satisfaction when you get that deep root out and make room for other things to grow. Some weeds can give you wishes – like dandelions. Some can lead you to all kinds of places, like ivy. And some can remind you that when the soil is just right, it is the most optimal time to weed. Don’t be afraid of weeds.
Pranayama – breathing practices and techniques – can be freeing like weeding. As a yoga teacher, I spend the majority of my teaching time reminding people to breathe: where to breath (mouth or nostrils, belly or chest), how to shorten or elongate or alter the pace, why to practice it, and really just reminding people to remain curious about it. I focus on my breath, almost exclusively, for dropping into meditation when my monkey mind is chattering away about the day. By building and staying with dedicated breathing practices, and learning the proper techniques, people find benefits that weave into many parts of their lives.
While weeding, if you pull out the weed by the leaves or just the surface of the root, you are likely to leave the gunk behind and have to deal with it the next month. But pull it from the depth and richness of the soil, then, my friend, you remove the weeds and make space for the flowers to grow. In pranayama, or even meditation, it may take some practice and experimenting and how best to pull out the weeds so to speak. Some days are easier, while other days there is much to learn. There are many techniques to find calmness, equanimity and even energy. (There is no one size fits all so do not assume what you google is right for you. A seasoned practitioner can help lead you on the most successful path.) Be curious and notice what the effects are of breathing practices on your nervous system both immediately and later in the day. When we clear out the path, we make room to plant those seeds. Then it takes persistence and patience to wait and see what blooms.

Days before the divorce was final, I found myself ready to get rid of this plant that had been in (our) bedroom. It was the only plant in the bedroom, a large tree-like plant that was easy to grow and had been in our bedroom for over a decade. I often thought about the plant as it grew. About how it was growing straight up, growing more branches, or why it later needed some stake supports. About six months before we officially separated, my ex had started watering this plant. Not just watering it though, but overwatering it. It even leaked over a few times, and I had towels sopping up the access from the plant tray. He did the same for some other plants and even the cacti – overwatering. When I asked him why he had been watering the plants recently, and why so much, he said ‘because I wanted to help out and thought watering would help’. How auspicious! This was one of the themes in our marriage – doing what one thought was needed for the situation, but not seeing (or asking) what was actually and effectively needed. Ergo, less watering, and more attention to asking what the plant needed to grow best.
I had nursed the plant back bit by bit, by watering it less and paying attention to when it needed even just a smidge of water. But my memories of the plant disturbed me, so I planned to replace it. It was on my ‘closure’ list of things to do when the divorce was final. So on a cloudy, not so spring-like day, I set out to plant a new one. I hauled the heavy pot outside to start digging out the frail old plant and its deep roots. It pained me to do this. I really love plants and I really did not want to trash this plant. But no one wanted the plant, and I also knew I couldn’t keep it. I dug up the plant and its decade of twisted roots and set it out on the side of the house to compost itself into new life. I added new soil to the pot, mixed it in with the old soil. I delicately planted the new plant, that I had spent time carefully selecting the week before. It felt amazing as I placed the new smaller plant into the giant pot. It didn’t seem lonely or ill prepared though. It was, much like me, ready to grow into its bigger space and stretch and create its own branches and leaves.
Whether you are weeding, replanting or creating more vastness and space in your life, I hope you have found this Yoga Guide to Divorce chapters useful. It has been a true gift to partner again with Seattle Yoga News and for them to support my voice in speaking to some of those gritty things that may be difficult, but necessary to face. I have shared my experiences and others’ experiences to shed light on how Yoga can be our Guide in challenging circumstances. There is more I have written, but for now this seems like a good place to pause and let you find your own roots and the rich soil of yoga’s fertile soil.
Please continue to practice and support your local, homegrown yoga studios and teacher training programs. I can be found at @yoga_rai and Bellevue College Yoga Instructor Certificate Program

Rai Lowe