Opening my heart: The reason I decided to have a Valentine’s date with Yoga (and myself)

A few weeks ago, I joined Crunch Gym, and now receive their weekly emails about special gym events and promotions.

Yesterday, in honor of Valentine’s Day, they had an “ex factor” boxing class for singles — you could put the picture of your ex (or your estranged not-yet-ex, whatever) on an Everlast bag and box your heart out.

I considered it, but then I realized…doesn’t it perpetuate the exact emotions we’re trying so hard to avoid?

Some of us celebrated love yesterday, others spent it curses ex(es), regardless — it’s a day full of feelings.

I spent the morning of Valentines Day 2012 wallowing  — still very sick following my first surgery, and feeling distinctly alone and abandoned. I spent Valentine’s Day 2013 wallowing at my desk in my apartment – lamenting for a whole other reason, and basically feeling sorry for myself for no reason at all.

It escaped me in both these cases in tie that just as I had made some really bad choices in life when it was related to other people — men and friends and otherwise — I could choose to make the right decision right now, and focus on the one person I had lost track of in trying to connect with and make everyone else happy and feel loved and appreciated. Me.

Whether you are feeling a little bit heartbroken — or need a reminder about opening up your heart, turns out Yoga is a really good way to spend Valentine’s Day. I’ve been into Yoga for a while now — it was how I got back on my feet when I was recovering from surgery #2 this past summer — and then I let myself fall off the wagon. A bizarre thing happens when you are friends with your yoga instructor – if the friendship ends, it’s hard to not project that onto your feelings about the practice, itself – it’s just too intimately connected.

Yoga itself is very intimate, and being it’s also American Heart Month, there are some great heart-opening yoga practices being offered — it’s funny how the physical act of stretching the muscles in your chest (i.e. your heart), can help to open yourself up to closed up emotions. Last night’s class – not my first since I got back into practice, but my first breakthrough night since I recommitted, was unexpectedly cathartic for me.

I left with a  feeling of lightness and peace, and found myself craving a return as soon as possible so I could experience that feeling again.

It’s a little like love, isn’t it?

“Love makes us do the wacky,” sagely said Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, once upon a time. And boy did she know – her loves turned into werewolves, cheated on her, and ultimately died. Her life was rough. But she persevered. Humans are so incredibly primal when it comes to the pursuit of love – it’s our fuel, or food, the source of our living energy — we hunt, and we eat it up, no matter how questionable the variety in which it’s served. We want romance, approval, passion, and for many of us, we’ll take what we can get. And the funny thing? Even if  we do get the love we want from other people, it often doesn’t matter. We still feel empty, it’s not enough. And so we try harder – often with the very people least capable of giving us the love or approval we need. And the cycle continues. The problem is that we’re looking for love in all the wrong places.

And so of course, we’ve dedicated one whole day to honor love — an affront to those of us who spend our entire lives slaves to it. Interestingly, the yoga tradition also builds a whole practice about love — but it’s not about seeking out the love of another person who may or may not be an option for us -it’s about learning to understand that love as a union can exist spontaneously . Yoga teaches that through opening our heart we can feel more connected to the other planet and to the divine, but most importantly, to ourselves. A great yoga practice happens when we stop our mental chatter about finding love and know that we are love.

If you want to try some heart-opening for yourself, here’s a great video I just found with  pose practice on YogaGlo.com — I think you may love it!

Love and its eternal quest gets a lot of play  — but remember, love isn’t just about couple love. It’s that, and that’s wonderful. But it’s also learning to love yourself, and showing your friends how much they matter, and doing something special for complete strangers, sometimes too – just so they know someone was thinking about them. Love is about putting love out there, and sometimes, being lucky enough to have it returned.

Oh, PS: Valentine’s Day was JUST about my date with myself — after, my BFF Allie and I had a late-night date of pink soybean-wrapped sushi (a tradition, you guys) and chocolate martinis. Hope yours turned out just as fabulous, no matter how you spend it!


  1. Lily

    Sounds like you may have been involved with a self centered jerk. There are men out there that would appreciate you and return your love…My love, Frankie is always there for me and I am sure you will find a sensitive , good, loving and giving man

  2. Joanna

    Thanks for sharing! I was honestly thinking of getting into yoga and you have finally convince me that I should.

  3. Ravzie

    You will find the right man, don’t look too hard!! Love pops up when you least expect it!!! I’ve never been a yoga fan. It hurts my wrists and all that hanging the head down makes me nauseous! But I’m glad it makes you happy, hon. XOXOXOXO

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