Discovering My Strength: Practicing with a Broken Heart


I got my heart broken. For the third time.

The first time was more of a realization that even the strongest, closest love wasn't unconditional. We were one person, never without the other. The perfect couple that everyone liked hanging out with. He was my other half, and the ending was like a death. I remember the point at which I let him go—I clenched all my muscles and released them, and there he went. And I slowly became my own person.

I have never experienced love in that way again.

The second time was a loss of control. The relationship was extremely fast-moving and passionate. It was fueled by lustful desire; it was a whole new experience for me. He was beautiful, the sex was phenomenal, and our connection was so deep that I wanted to have his child. And then he disappeared. One day he decided he didn't want me and simply vanished from my life with no warning. And it destroyed me.

I have never experienced love in that way again.

My third heartbreak is happening now, as I write. He was everything I had intended to manifest: smart, successful, foreign, handsome, active. He loved to travel, he liked good food and wine, he was a devoted father, and he made me feel beautiful and protected. He had goals, he made decisions, he opened the car door for me and carried my suitcase through the airport as we made our way to a short, whirlwind trip to the Caribbean. I fell in love with him within 30 minutes of our first date. I remember that exact moment, and I always will. I didn't expect to fall that hard, but when I did, I assumed he was just as head over heels for me. I was completely unprepared to fall so much harder than he did.

My third heartbreak is happening now, as I write.

At that point in my life I was still wondering, wandering, and searching for myself professionally. Thanks in part to my yoga practice, my connection with my emotional state was strong. I could recognize that the breakup was not all about me; he was a man transitioning through a difficult divorce; professionally he had it together, but emotionally he did not.

But even so, as I write that, my heart writhes. I have a terrible time letting go of love, despite my belief that another, better one will come. And now is the time for me to find the lesson in my latest love story. The first time I fell in love I learned about friendship; the second time I learned about passion. But what about the third? I guess once I figure that out, I’ll be ready to move on. I’m getting closer.

In the meantime, my focus is yoga. Since yoga connects me to myself and allows me to feel things without guilt or judgment, I went right to it. In my 20s, yoga helped me sort out my feelings during my own breakups as well as my parents’ divorce. Now in my 30s, I am a noticeably more emotional being than I have ever known myself to be. Many of my more difficult nights have been spent in child’s pose, emotionally ridden tears flowing onto my mat. That mat knows every inch of me physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I pray, I meditate, I move through life’s challenges on my mat.

So it’s no surprise that I sought refuge in yoga when this challenge arose. Every day I meditated on strength. “I am strong” reverberated with my inhales and exhales. But aside from my heartache, I was at a professional crossroads. Money was not flowing, and neither were career opportunities, so I went to a yoga instructor audition at a beautiful spa in downtown Miami. Picking up more yoga classes felt like a bit of a "quick fix" to a financial problem, but it was the only thing available in a pinch. When the manager mentioned the spa’s need for barre instructors, I instinctively responded with interest. The manager told me, “Take some barre classes here, I will comp you. Let me know what you think. If you are interested in training to become a teacher after trying the class, we can talk about it.”

So I took advantage of the offer, and went against my yogic grain to expand my fitness practice to ballet barre. Four classes in and my body already began a physical transformation that I never dreamed possible in such a short amount of time. One month ago I couldn't do more than three push-ups. Today I can complete ten, after holding a minute-long plank. My core, my arms, and my thighs feel strong. What is more fascinating though, is my mental response. Mentally, I feel invincible. While yoga completes me emotionally by bringing me emotional presence and fluidity in movement, it turns out there was still something more I needed. Something to remind me of my inner strength.

Maybe if I can get through barre class and come out feeling more powerful than ever, I can get through rejection in the same way. ​

At this moment in time, when what I really needed was strength, the universe sent it to me in the form of barre. Even when my thighs are on fire from multiple leg lifts and I have to take a breather, I know I will come back as soon as possible with new vigor, new motivation. I haven’t known such a perfect combination of physical and mental strength before. I realized, if my mind and body can remain present and work through the discomfort of endless leg lifts (and trust me, just 20 of those can surpass anyone’s pain threshold), why can’t I do the same with my emotions? Reminding myself that I was strong in all aspects of my being helped me greatly at times when rejection felt consuming. Maybe if I can get through barre class and come out feeling more powerful than ever, I can get through rejection in the same way.

As I put makeup on in front of the mirror, I notice that my arms are toned. My legs are more muscular and curvier than even a few weeks ago. My core feels strong and solid. But more importantly, so does my heart. When my mind unconsciously drifts to him, or to feelings of rejection, I allow myself to recognize the pain. But my body’s durability reminds me of the durability in my heart and my mind, and I know I will be fine. Trusting that the right thing is happening helps, especially when I look objectively at the circumstances in which I currently find myself. For me, it was so simple. With meditation, intention-setting, and repetition, I asked the universe for strength. Sure enough, the universe provided the means of strength—by offering me a chance at barre.  

About the Teacher

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Bethany Platanella
Bethany’s yoga practice began 10 years ago, and strengthened through the years. She has had the opportunity... Read more