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My marriage had been in trouble for years.  It was an inconvenient truth that I had wanted to avoid.   We tried counseling.  We tried talking less and listening more. We tried date nights.  We continued to hit a wall over and over and over, until one morning on an early September day last year.

It hasn’t been an easy year.   I doubt that anyone who’s gone through a divorce would tell you that the first year was easy.  It was a year where I’ve counted on friends.  It was a year where I’ve counted on my therapist.  I was a year where I’ve counted on yoga.

Yoga was my constant this year, and not only the time spent on my mat.  It was the practice that I maintained off my mat that mattered.   It was that time, spent as the observer, in painfully honest self-inquiry, versus putting all of the blame on the other.  It was trying, in a year full of anger and frustrations, to regulate my temper.  It was during moments that I wanted to cause spite, that I chose to instead, cause no harm, that my practice mattered the most.

Beyond the elaborate arm balances and fancy inversions and Lululemon pants so readily identified with a western yoga practice lies a set of ethical guidelines that a yogi commits to live by.   Cause no harm.  Tell the truth.  Let go of attachments.  Regulate behavior. Perform self-inquiry.    While I have strayed from this code more times than I can count, this code was my True North, and one that I headed back to no matter how many times I wandered.

Thanks to yoga, I stand with my feet rooted into the earth and the crown of my head lifting toward the sky, feeling that toggle between groundedness and elevation, which personifies the duality of yoga, and the dichotomy of a well-worn life. We root ourselves, but not to the extent that we hold ourselves back.  We take flight, but never to the extent that we feel unanchored.

Thanks to yoga, I can look at all of my worldly possessions, which as of right now, fit into one room, and instead of feeling lack, feel abundance.

Thanks to yoga, I face the enormous change I’m embarking on, that holds many unknowns,  with a sense of “this is all going to be OK” that radiates from the core of my  being.

This is a yoga blog.  While I don’t give tutorials on postures or sell yoga mats or discuss the physical and emotional benefits of the practice, this blog is the point of view on life from a yoga teacher, and more importantly, from her teacher’s teachers.  It’s not my perspective as much as it is my interpretation of the perspectives of Pantanjali, Iynegar, Baptiste, Swami Shantimurti  Saraswati, and Swami Satyananda, and many, many others who have taught me how to live.

While I think everyone can benefit from yoga, more than anything, I believe that everyone needs to have a practice that gives them a set of tools for facing life.

Maybe for you, it’s yoga, or maybe for you, it’s studying the bible, or maybe for you, it’s working the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, or seeing a therapist, or transcendental meditation.  Whatever your practice is my friends, do yourself a favor and go practice.

Life will kick you hard.  Some years, it will hand you a thousand “fuck you’s” at once at the most unexpected moment.  Even with a practice, those “fuck you’s” will hurt like hell.  But with your practice, you’ll be ready. You’ll have a belief system you can rely on.  You will have faith.  You will know that no matter what happens, you’re strong enough to withstand it.  You will trust that you will never be given more than you can handle.  You will endure.  You will love.  You will forgive others.  You will learn to forgive yourself.

You will rise above.

With your practice, you may even grow to realize that those thousand “fuck you’s” really weren’t “fuck you’s” at all, but just life, giving you a well-timed warning, or the universe watching out for you in a way you didn’t understand. With your practice, maybe in time, those “fuck you’s” won’t look like “fuck you’s” at all, because in your heart you will know, that there is only love.

Find your practice, call your guru, call your pastor, call your sponsor, call your friend.  Know that you are never alone.

Find your practice.  Make time for it.  Honor it.  Honor you.



I am on a blogging sabbatical for the next few weeks to give myself time to settle into my new home.  Know that I adore you, am grateful for you, am thinking of you, and that I’ll be in touch.  Love to all, light to all.

xo Ilene


Rise — 82 Comments

  1. I really, really love this post, Ilene. I feel like I’m still finding my practice. But I guess that’s why we call it practice, right? If it were perfect we could skip the practice part. I am going to miss reading your words, but I know you’ll come back with some amazing posts. We will most certainly need to text, call and Google Hangout in between. Here’s to honoring our practice! You do it well. 🙂
    another jennifer recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Random Downeast Maine PhotosMy Profile

    • Yes, let’s hear it for honoring our practice, whether it’s been around a while or we’re just finding it. And you have been such an excellent friend. We will be in touch with or without the blog. xo

  2. I love how you emphasize on practice. There is no right or wrong to the way that we choose to practice. We all stumble but finding a positive way to live our lives and create a peace and balance is so important. We put too much on ourselves and lose focus on the act of being and learning and living. Thank you for his dear friend. Take your time, enjoy your new world. Much love xoxox
    Krystal recently posted…Parental Guidance SuggestedMy Profile

    • Thank you Krystal, and yes, I agree, our practice is personal and I agree that the most important component of that is finding a positive way to live our lives. Thank you for all of your support this year. See you soon!

  3. When I read your words about yoga, I want to go and experience it because that sense of balance – not just physical balance – is very appealing to me. I am finding my practice, too – I think of it more as a philosophy at this point. But I am discovering new things about myself all the time on my journey.
    I will miss your words over the next few weeks, Ilene – but know that I wish you much joy and contentment as you settle into your new home. I know it will be great! 🙂
    Kim recently posted…Slipping AwayMy Profile

    • I think you nailed it when you say that your practice is a philosophy. When we have that philosophy, that code, if you will, we have our True North – and we always have a place to go back to, m=no matter how out of balance life seems to get. Thank you for your kind words, Kim. You have been an awesome friend this year. xoo

    • It’s a practice for living. I don’t know how well Wii fit conveys that, but if you can ever get to a studio class, I highly recommend it for anybody!

  4. Yoga isn’t my thing, but prayer and praise are. Praise especially gives me an immediate peace. And I have an awesome pastor! I’m glad that yoga is helping you to work through life and it’s obstacles.

    • It doesn’t matter that yoga isn’t your thing, because you have your thing. Prayer, praise, and a pastor work just fine! I’m so glad that you have that!

  5. This is so true, Ilene. I’m so glad that you have found your practice – found your “true north.” It is different for everyone, and I love hearing how other people find grounding in their life, practice their faith, discover themselves. It is an ongoing journey, but at the end of the day, it is so important to reset our compass. Enjoy your time to settle in. Will be thinking of you! xo
    leah davidosn recently posted…I Hate That I’m HatedMy Profile

    • Leah, you have been so supportive of me this year, and in addition to my practice and my true north, it is the women in my life, my friends at home, and my blogging friends (who I hesitate to even categorize as blogging friends, since you are a real friend now) who have pulled me through. One kind word at a time, one supportive gesture at a time, one “you go girl” at ta time. Thank you for everything, and I can’t wait to be back in touch. xo

    • Steph! I am so, so very glad we had time in real life together before I left! So very glad. And I can’t wait for my time off, but I can’t wait to return, either. xxxoo

  6. Thank you, Ilene. Several of my blogging friends have given me perspective this week and you are one of them.

    Enjoy your time off, get situated, kiss your kids. Do some Yoga.
    Carla recently posted…My BoysMy Profile

    • What a perfect message. I am so glad I was able to give you perspective. And I can’t wait to get settled in, hang out with my kids, and practice yoga. xo

  7. Ilene, this is truly sublime writing. I can feel you pouring your heart into every word. You have gained so much perspective over the past year, and there is no doubt you are coming out of this tough time stronger than ever before. And I love that you realize that in the end, there is only love, and love is all that matters. Such a powerful message!

    Best wishes as you get settled in your new home. We’ll miss you!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted…The Happy MediumMy Profile

    • Nicole, your words are so thoughtful. Thank you so much for them. And yes, whenever I remember that there is only love, it brings me right back to where I need to be.

  8. I feel better for having read this. I feel comforted. It was a like a warm blanket you just threw around me with your words. Thank you! I get all of that and more from yoga…when I practice, which is not much these days. My running is my meditation and I do it often.
    Allie Burdick recently posted…LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE CROWD!My Profile

    • Allie, that was the nicest thing to say, the warm blanket. I am so touched by that. And running can be my meditation too. And a good one. I am so glad you have that. xo

  9. Ya know what? Reading your wise words resonate so deeply with biblical truths- just put in a different way. Our True Norths are one and same really. I love that.

    You will always be an inspiration to so many. Your light shines so brightly and as you launch your beautiful heart to new ground, I truly believe anywhere you land, you will soar.

    What an exciting ride I am honored to be a part of and live out with you, dear friend!!!!!
    Chris Carter recently posted…Dear Teacher…My Profile

    • Oh, honey. You are on this ride with me for sure! I wouldn’t think of going without you! And I am not surprised at all to hear that the yoga truths and the biblical truths are so similar. True happiness and freedom comes from a very specific wisdom.

  10. Dont leave me Ilene!! I enjoy reading and taking in what you have to say. I feel as though I am following along with you on your journey to the “New and Improved” that lies ahead for you. You mentioned “Rise Above” in your post,it caught my attention because that has been my motto for many many years and a motto I try to teach others who just can’t seem to see past the rain clouds that sometimes rain down on us. We all at some point face struggle and pain in our lives. For some, worse than others but nonetheless each soul has a struggle. I myself to only be 26 have faced more than most since I was about four. At one point I beat myself up alot and fell victim to playing the victim until I decided to RISE ABOVE.. forgive where noone asked for forgivness and just like that my soul was set on fire and I knew no matter what obstacle I face. It WILL be ok. I just like everyone am meant for happiness our own success and peace. Thanks for always posting great reads. I can’t wait to read more! Until then… Leah~

    • Leah, I can’t wait to know you better. It’s a huge strength at 26 to understand that no matter what has happened in our lives, we don’t have to view ourselves as the victim. Everything is perspective my friend. Everything. Be well, my friend, and can’t wait to see you upon my return. xo

  11. Best wishes with your move and settling in!
    I wish you were headed to Kansas because after reading this post I want to go to a yoga class that you teach!!! I know you would help me maintain the balance I need in my life!!
    Kim recently posted…Some Happy News!!!My Profile

    • Kim, that is the nicest thing to say. And you never know. One day you might just walk into a yoga class, and there I’ll be 🙂 xo

  12. I’m crying as I type this because I’ve let yoga go….and as I’ve done that, i’ve let myself go. These past few weeks I’ve been craving my mat, craving the movement but I haven’t let myself go back. Not sure why…but I haven’t. I love the reverence I feel from you and your words for the practice. Thank you for the nudge, and good look with your settling. xoxo
    Lisa recently posted…MilesMy Profile

    • You may have let yoga go, but it never leaves us. It’s inside of you and I bet closer than you think. That’s what I love about it. I also love that you stopped by to wish me luck with my settling. See you soon! xo

    • I loved holding Des! It has been the highlight of my month! And I can’t wait to get to know you better when I am back online in a few weeks from now. Thank you for your kind words. xo

  13. Ah, I am certainly late to this post, or later than usual, but it was worth the wait. (the wait was family in from Colorado) I’m still finding my practice or practices, and adding to my toolbelt. I love the feeling I get today that I didn’t used to get – it’s about knowing I will rise, always I have no doubt that yoga would be a good addition to my life. Maybe I’m just waiting for Lindsay to be a certified teacher – it’s coming!
    Tamara recently posted…Ladies Only Blog Share Link Party: Back To School RULES!My Profile

    • When I read the line that you know you will rise always, I got chills. (This comment thread is giving me a lot of chills – the good kind!) Because THAT’s having a practice. Knowing in our core that we will be OK no matter what. And I love that Lindsay is becoming certified to teach. Another parallel. xo

    • It’s so apparent to me you have a strong faith, not just through your woods but through your gorgeous glow. And your Sunday School kids are so lucky to have you, Joi. Thank you for your kind words. Talk to you soon! xxoo

    • I think if we put your spiritual program together with my yoga practice, we’d have superpowers! I am so glad you got through (and I love your persistence!) I love you my friend, and I will talk to you soon!

  14. We adore you in every way possible. A beautiful post. Whatever it is we all need to find it and do it and rise above. Always. We hope that your move is happy and peaceful. :)-The Dose Girls

    • And I adore the two of you. And should all of us find the practice we need. We all are deserving of such. xo

  15. Ilene,

    I know I have told you how much I love your writing, but I need to add, it’s not just your writing, it’s you. You have a very special energy that makes it way through the internet and the computer screen. I admire your strength, your light, your outlook.

    Every word you wrote here resonates with me. I had to smile because my practice has been the Bible, the 12 steps, therapy, meditation, and yoga. They have mingled into a really cool spiritual concoction, but yoga is somehow what binds everything together.

    I wish you much love and light as you create your new home, friend. Namaste.
    Stevie recently posted…Life With AlexMy Profile

    • Stevie, your comment gave me chills. Good chills at that! I am so touched by your words about my energy. And that, I really do owe to yoga. It brings out my light. It brings out the light in all of us that is there and waiting to be tapped into. And I love your spiritual concoction and how you have embraced so many different practices to find the one that is yours. Love and light right back at you, and I can’t wait to get to know you better upon my return. xo

    • Thank you my friend. When I look at yogic philosophy and the 12 steps side by side, I see so many similarities. I think it’s great that you have both. That’s why there’s so much light in you. xo

  16. Every time I read one of your post I immediately feel the need to relax and to release. That is the truth. As I began reading I started to think, maybe I really should take up yoga. Then I realized that your yoga is my daily devotionals. While my body may not be involved, my spirit and my thoughts are definitely being exercised. I like that feeling of oneness. Very nice post. That’s not unusual though!
    Andrea recently posted…Say “Good Morning” at Your Own RiskMy Profile

    • Yes, daily devotionals area beautiful practice. And I should have known you had a practice. It definitely comes out in your writing!

  17. I had no idea that your divorce was so recent (as a newbie to your blog) and even though I can feel some of the pain through the words of your post, I hear tremendous strength.

    I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through but I see your move and this change as a bit of rebirth for you much like what yoga can give to one’s mind if someone lets it.

    How can you be in awe of someone you barely know but feel a strange kinship with? I’m not sure but I feel it for you. Sending you lots of strength, love and peace as you settle in.

    As I’ve come back to embrace my yoga practice, I’m learning lots of things not only about my mind and my body but that I hate (yes, I hate!) chair pose – – – a lot! I’m not sure what that says about me but I’m hoping through my own practice and by reading more of your blog, I’ll be able to tap into not hating it quite as much or accepting the fact that I do just a little more.

    Best heartfelt wishes to you and yours in your new home!
    Melissa Burton recently posted…Tunes For Tuesday (80′s Edition) – APBMy Profile

    • Oh, Melissa! One day I am going to write a pose about chair post and dedicate it to YOU – because it’s a pose that a lot of my students do not like and I have a theory why we struggle with chair pose so much and even though I hate it too I’ve learned to love it as well. I am so very touched by your comment to me – and I feel that same kinship back at you. I am so glad Christine made an introduction for the two of us – ad we will forever have yoga – and Duran Duran xo

  18. It’s so nice when you find that thing in your life that can help you “rise above,” and I am so glad that yoga has helped you through so much! You have amazing strength Ilene, and I am so glad to call you my friend. We can all learn and grow from your posts. Good luck getting settled in your new place – I can’t wait to hear about it. Enjoy your break…we will be here when you get back. Hugs!
    Michelle recently posted…Get Your Home and Life Organized! {Let’s Get Organized Link Party}My Profile

    • I am so glad to call you a friend as well Michelle. And my strength? It’s a collective. I owe a lot of it to those around me who have supported me in real life and in this space as well. I’m sure I’ll have a story or two to tell about my settling in process down here. It’s been a trip. I’m certainly not in metro New Jersey anymore. xo

    • I am so touched by this! And you make me smile right back. Thank you so much my friend. xo

  19. I recently started taking a restorative yoga class… And I want to take more. It’s becoming my practice too. I’ve been having one of those years and was starting to (still am, sort of) buckle from the pressure and the stress. Yes, a practice can make all the difference.
    Enjoy your new home. I can’t wait to hear all about it!
    Tricia recently posted…Raising Humans: the lovelyMy Profile

    • A practice is absolutely the difference. At least from my experience. And I love restorative yoga. Nothing can get to me after 60 minutes of being propped up on bolsters in postures where your body has no choice but to relax. I’m so glad to hear it’s helping you!

  20. “Life, giving you a well-timed warning, or the universe watching out for you in a way you didn’t understand.” This is so true, and many times it isn’t what we want or expect to happen, and we’re not as receptive to it as we should be. I believe yoga helps with this reception.

    I feel like an armadillo among foxes sometimes at yoga, but I know the same things are happening to me that should. I hate crow pose. I’ll stay put, and watch everyone else balance on their elbows. There’s value in that, too.

    While I join the others in prayer and well-wishes for you in your new home, I’m also aware that those in your new surroundings are about to find a teacher in their lives who all of us in this comment string – and more – have grown so much with.
    Eli@coachdaddy recently posted…Go Ask Daddy About Shark Dentition, Piranha Fangs and the Hulk’s HistoryMy Profile

    • Yoga is so key in helping with that reception because it helps us get past our own short sighted-ness. And then slowly, our wants and expectations change entirely, as do our motives for our wants and expectations. And then we take two steps back. And then, if we’re lucky, a step forward,and repeat. I love this process. It’s changed the way I see everything.

      I’ll bet anything that in a year from now, you’ll be telling me how much you love crow pose. Trust me on this one.

  21. I read this before but wanted to come back and read again and comment. This is probably my favorite post of yours (so far) and it touches me deeply. As you know I have struggled so much and desperately need a TrueNorth like this and your post really reiterated how important that is for me to find. I have slipped out of my own yoga (again) and want (need) to get back in. I can use this post as a reminder whenever I waiver.

    Love to you on your journey XO
    Denise recently posted…Well Hello 40My Profile

    • Oh, D. I want you to have a True North. We all deserve this. You owe this to yourself, whether it’s yoga or some other kind of practice, but of course, I’m partial to yoga. And I’m so glad you liked this post. I felt that I needed to pay homage to my practice before I disappeared off the grid for a while. I owe everything to it,. Absolutely everything. xo

  22. I hope you’re enjoying your new home. I love this. My guide for life is my faith and the peace and instructions I find from reading my bible. I love how you encourage us to go practice. Having the tool is one thing, but daily practice is where transformation happens.I’m glad that in addition to friends, you had yoga to help you through your divorce. This is such a wonderfully inspiring post. Thank you for this.

    • Hope, first of all, I love that you have the bible and your guide. There is no greater guide than that. And I 100% understand what you say about tools versus practice. What I do on my mat is the utilization of a tool but how I live off my mat is my practice. We are both so lucky to have these sources to guide us through life. Namaste, my friend. o

  23. This blog is so much more than a yoga blog. It’s just pure refreshment every time I come and read your words. I’m sorry for the last year. You are inspiring to watch rise, my friend. XO
    Adrienne recently posted…Word VomitMy Profile

  24. I love this post so much Ilene. I truly do because of this –> “I believe that everyone needs to have a practice that gives them a set of tools for facing life.” It might be one of my favorites of yours and that’s saying a lot. Yoga has been my constant and True North over the past year or so too. I take so much off the mat and into my life. It’s helped me realize a lot about myself and those fuck yous and I know that I still have a lot to practice. xox

    And ironically, I have a yoga post about the benefits of yoga poses, etc. ha!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Yoga for Runners – Part 2My Profile

  25. I owe so much to my practice. Like everything! I wish a practice for everyone, if not yoga, some kind of practice for life that allows them to live freely and joyfully and honestly and from the heart. And I can’t wait to read your post about yoga for runners! I might to a distance run (mayyyyybe a marathon?) this fall/winter. xo

  26. Hi Ilene!! Found you over at Hope’s blog! What an inspiring post to all those who have met a challenge and want to know how to get past it. It’s important that we ALL have a constant in our lives…that one thing(that never changes), that will always be there to center and ground us. That one thing that brings inner peace and sanctity! For me, my constant is Christ! Thanks so much for sharing and hope your sabbatical was refreshing! Have a good one!
    Michell @Prowess and Pearls
    Michell recently posted…Michell’s Weekly PearlMy Profile

    • Michell, it’s so nice to meet you through Hope. I just love her and any friend of hers is a friend of mine. I am so glad you have a practice that centers you. It’s life affirming, isn’t it?