Of Yoga Practice and Breakups

Hello, internet-verse. It’s me, Daniela. It’s been a while since I last posted a blog, because I wasn’t quite sure how intimate and authentic I wanted to get in the land of internet trolls. But I’ve decided that as a Yoga teacher, it is my duty to show how multi-dimensional Yoga practice is.

I think it is important that my blog posts cover the full spectrum of what it means to practice and teach Yoga, so this one isn’t going to be about what you do on a yoga mat. This one is going to be about life, and in particular when life gets shitty. And it doesn’t get much shittier than a break-up.

Before we get to the break-up, I want to take a few moments to expand the definition of “Yoga.” I purposely write “Yoga,” instead of “yoga” because I am talking about a way of being, a way of living life that is more than just practicing a sequence of postures. When I speak about my Yoga practice, and the kind of Yoga I teach, I am speaking about actively engaging in a process of conscious evolution. I am talking about the mindfulness behind your thoughts, words and actions.

I define conscious evolution as moving away from a fear-based mentality that makes us small, and towards a state of abiding in unconditional love that empowers us to live authentically and to our fullest potential. I know that sounds wordy. It is. And honestly, I think the best way that I can describe what I mean is by opening my life to you, and let you see how I most recently had to come to terms with this exact concept.

I define conscious evolution as moving away from a fear-based mentality that makes us small, and towards a state of abiding in unconditional love that empowers us to live authentically and to our fullest potential.

At the end of last year, I ended a five-year, live-in relationship with one of the best men I have ever met in my life. It was hard— really hard. I want to be as respectful to him and to the relationship as possible, so details will be limited.

The general gist of why the relationship ended is this: it had served it’s purpose. It took me about a year to realize this because I had a hard time being honest with myself. For the longest time, I assumed that simply because this relationship had been one of the most beautiful and powerful things in my life, that it would always be that way.

The general gist of why the relationship ended is this: it had served it’s purpose.

In so many ways, our relationship fit the bill of what a relationship “should be.” We were a good-looking couple who cohabited with two precious cats and we had been through a lot together—including navigating the waters of an inter-racial relationship in a world that (though decreasingly so) is still weary of such relationships. We were liked by each other’s friends and families.

Most of all, we shared some precious moments, experiences, and times together that will always be intimately and exclusively ours. In many ways, he was an amazing partner. He was fiercely loyal, dedicated, kind, loving, caring, gentlemanly, and intelligent. When I met him at the ripe age of 25, I needed to experience that type of dedicated love.

I will forever be grateful to him for bringing to light a level of value in me that I had yet to see in myself. He opened my eyes to inner potential I could not see. He helped me heal wounds from past rejections and relationships that had left me feeling unworthy and disposable.

But as I grew stronger in myself, I no longer felt the need to look for approval, and I began to see just how different we were in what we wanted and how we lived our lives. I cannot speak for him, but I began to feel like I wanted to grow in ways he didn’t, and he wanted to grow in ways I didn’t. We were both evolving, but not together.

And we resisted that. We resisted it because we were scared to lose everything that we had built. We were scared to lose each other.

But the thing was, that had already happened. We had already moved on from who we were when we first met, when (at least for me) the relationship was magical and empowering and blissful. And I want to reiterate here just how beautiful it was. I remember nights in hotel rooms where I felt so happy that I could die and feel I had lived a fulfilled and exceptional life.

But we weren’t those people anymore. We had become so attached to the relationship we chose to suffer through something that wasn’t fulfilling rather than let it go. At least for me, this was mainly because I was afraid of the pain (mainly the pain I would cause someone I loved, because if I am being transparent, I was already in a lot of pain internally). Pain demands to be felt, however, so fearing it doesn’t change anything. It just prolongs the inevitable, and often times intensifies it.

We had become so attached to the relationship we chose to suffer through something that wasn’t fulfilling our new needs rather than let it go.

It was a hard truth to face— this realization that (at least for me) no promises or honest intentions of what we wanted to be, or would have liked to be, could ever truly replace what was really happening in the moment. Becoming fully aware of this fact is scary. It’s uncomfortable. And it’s often very, very lonely.

This isn’t to say that deep, long-term connections between people can’t be nurtured and cultivated over time and lead to fulfilling (even life-long) partnerships. Nor is it to say that #couplegoals are a waste of time. What I simply came to see is that the pieces that make up any relationship are always evolving and changing. Sometimes, the pieces don’t fit. Or in my case, sometimes the pieces no longer fit.

When the pieces don’t fit, you have two choices: you try to force the pieces to fit (and deny that they don’t fit), or you accept that they don’t fit. For about a year, we tried to force the pieces to fit. Unfortunately, force is not love. Force is a form of attachment born from fear.

And here’s the big lesson: love, though often advertised as attachment, is actually the opposite of attachment. I know, it’s confusing. Allow me to explain (as best I can):

Attachment is an act of making ourselves small, holding onto what we know or what we expect, even if it doesn’t serve us. Love is an act of bravery, because it is willingness to be present with the what is— not what “could be” or what “should be.” In my case, when it came to our relationship, the truth was we had grown together for as long as we could. We had reached a point of stagnation.

More than that, I had come to a painful place of resisting growth in the hope that if I just tried, I could stay trapped in a moment in time and not continue to grow and lose all that I had built for the past five years.

Attachment is an act of making ourselves small, holding onto what we know or what we expect. Love is an act of bravery, because it is willingness to be present with the what is— not what “could be” or what “should be.”

I exhausted myself resisting the truth for a long time. I think he did, too. We both lied to ourselves and each other in the hopes that wanting something to be would be enough. That year was a hard year. Not only was I unkind to myself, denying myself the shift and change I needed, I denied him the same. I think we were unaware of how much we were both hurting each other. We had replaced the love that had been so beautiful in the earlier days of our relationship with an attachment that was leaving us both with unfulfilled needs.

Then one morning I woke up and I realized I was fighting an impossible fight, and I needed to surrender. I surrendered to my own evolution. I said the heart-wrenching words that I knew were going to break the heart of one of the people I cared about most in the entire universe. I cannot overstate how difficult this entire process was for me. It hurt, like that deep hurt where you question your heart’s capacity to ever recover.

It recovers, though. In fact, what I’m learning is once I truly let my heart feel every emotion it needs to— a cocktail of grief, fear, disappointment, guilt, liberation, joy, desperation, empowerment, powerlessness, gratitude, and much more— my heart expands in the most indescribable way. I know I’m going be okay. I know he’s going to be okay. I know that just because something ends doesn’t mean it wasn’t beautiful or powerful or worth it.

The truth is, we cannot grow without some amount of pain. But the pain is temporary, and will come and go if you let it. If you attach yourself to something that doesn’t serve you, you are consciously holding on to the pain and stopping the flow that is the essence of your personal evolution. However, once the attachment begins to dissolve, the pain begins to turn into this type of gratitude that I can best describe as fondness for something that was indescribably beautiful. There’s a powerful peace in that.

However, once the attachment begins to dissolve, the pain begins to turn into this type of gratitude that I can best describe as fondness for something that was indescribably beautiful. There’s a powerful peace in that.

So now, a little over three months post-break up, I find myself resting in a place of peace most days. The loneliness still comes, the grief still comes, the guilt definitely still comes— but then it goes. I am consistently practicing moving away from attaching myself to any emotion, “relationship status” or even ideology of what relationships or love “look like.”

I am working on being more honest with myself breath by breath and moment by moment. I am cultivating an attitude of complete transparency with myself— listening to what I need, calling myself out on my drama and bullshit. It is a process and practice, but that’s Yoga. There is no finish line, there are no absolutes, there is only this constant movement of various types of experience, shift, and evolution.

My hope in sharing all of this is that maybe you can see that even though a relationship ended, and I had to face the chaos of that (I had to kiss about $3,000 goodbye in one fell swoop and was relatively homeless for about three weeks), it was an empowering experience. I am now in a place where I can appreciate fully a time of my life that has past, and rest in my present being authentically and honestly. I know that I can let go when I need to, and that in letting go I am actually respecting what I am letting go of. I am no longer as afraid of pain or loneliness, because I know just how capable I am to deal with those feelings.

My hope is that, as with all things I teach through this lens and tradition of Yoga, that if I can do this, you can, too. We all can. Because love as an energy, can neither be created nor destroyed. It is never truly lost. It simply shifts, evolves, and finds new ways to flow into your life. Let it go, it will come back, just not how you might expect. But if you keep your mind and heart open, I promise what you are really letting go of anytime something shifts or ends, is simply resistance to the ever-present evolution and empowerment of your human being.

Daniela Kent: E-RYT 500 YACEP San Diego.jpg

Hello, I’m Daniela

I’m 31-year-old literature and philosophy geek turned full-time yoga teacher. I am passionate about living a wholehearted life that honors and allows me to enjoy the gift that is the human body, the power that is the human mind, and the beauty that is the human spirit. That’s how and why I practice and teach Yoga. I’m into making awkward jokes and being radically honest all in the hopes to bring light to truth, and connect. I aim show up in the world, both as a teacher and a human being, in a way that empowers us all to be the best versions of ourselves (most of the time). When I’m not in class, leading Yoga Teacher Training, or traveling, you can find me catching a Chargers game, binge-watching Survivor, or dancing and singing alone in my room to Vance Joy albums.