BY MATHEW KATZ
Lisa Kirchner knew the stress from her divorce was getting to her when she was so stiff and injured she needed a neck brace and could barely raise her arm above her shoulder.
This was in 2006, after Kirchner had moved to Qatar with her former husband. The lifelong gym lover could rarely work out because the local fitness facility had limited "women-only" hours. Instead she tried Ashtanga yoga classes — and her stress dissipated.
Now, the writer, yoga instructor and New York City resident, 47, hopes to teach others how to move past life's hurdles with a new two-hour class — "Yoga for Getting Over It" — that is coming to Chicago's Near West Side later this month.
"I started a yoga practice, and I began to get massively better," she said. "I was getting relief after the divorce in a way that I hadn't felt in a long time — and I never expected it."
Kirchner taught the $50 class for the first time last week in New York, at Chelsea Piers' Mind and Body Studio. Her trip to Chicago is part of a nationwide tour for her new book "Hello American Lady Creature," a memoir of her time in Qatar.
She'll teach the class from 1-3 p.m. June 28 at Sat Nam Yoga Chicago, 1304 W. Washington Blvd. A two-hour book-signing will follow the class.
"Lisa's workshop, 'Yoga for Getting Over It,' lends practical advice on how to use yoga as a tool to lighten the load of life and its added pressures of dealing with grief, stress and loss," said Karampal Kaur, Sat Nam Yoga Chicago's co-owner and director.
"Lisa is proof that yoga works. Sharing her story gives her an intimate connection to her audience, and we are really looking forward to it," said Kaur.
The class is a take on Ashtanga yoga that's meant to help participants deal with breakups, divorce, job loss and death.
"Ashtanga was originally designed to get rid of excess nervous energy," she said. "In my experience, people can have a lot of emotional responses while they practice."
Each movement in the class is designed to specifically target a certain aspect of getting over emotional pain.
A forward fold, Kirchner said, helps people deal with their past because the position protects the heart.
"I was in such a state after the divorce that I would weep while I would forward-fold," she said.
A back bend can help yogis move forward by opening up the heart and energizing the body, Kirchner said.
A twist, Kirchner said, represents forgiveness.
Kirchner said she hopes the class is a success and that she creates a comforting — and fun — environment for people to get over grief.
"The postures each work on a physical, mental and emotional level," she said. "When I work with each person strategically, it's a beautiful thing."
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