Many people I spoke to for this story had a yoga practice before their divorce but generally only considered it part of a physical health regimen. Alice Schlegel—mother, researcher, yoga teacher, and director of student activities at a community college outside of Seattle—had moved from Alabama to Washington state with her first husband and joined a yoga studio as a way to stay in shape and meet people. Then her relationship unraveled. Schlegel’s yoga studio became a safe place where she could focus on herself. “I didn’t feel at home when I was at home,” she says, “because my home was disappearing.”

She didn’t talk to others in the studio about her divorce; she kept yoga separate and sacred. “No one in my yoga space knew my spouse, so it was really my own place to be myself and not worry about who was going to bring up turmoil.”

Schlegel read more about yoga, tried different teachers, and went to as many classes as she could. “There was a void developing,” she says, “and I was filling it with knowledge and positivity.”

Like Schlegel, Elizabeth Rowan had a yoga practice, but she didn’t lean into it until her divorce was in full swing. Schlegel says that yoga became a “true necessity to navigate the process of uncoupling—integral and imperative to me reclaiming myself.”

How did her practice do that? “On a logistical level, yoga was critical for cultivating groundedness and steadiness when it felt like the world was ending,” she says. On a deeper level, she found that as one relationship was closing, her relationship with yoga was evolving dramatically. “The spiritual path proved to be a really beautiful lifelong bond,” she says. “I discovered that this path is its own marriage.”

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