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Yoga Instructor Debuts Class for Getting Over Breakups, Layoffs and Death

By Mathew Katz | June 2, 2014 6:23am
 Lisa Kirchner shows off a spinal twist, which is meant to inspire forgiveness.
Lisa Kirchner shows off a spinal twist, which is meant to inspire forgiveness.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

CHELSEA — 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 East Village resident, 47, hopes to teach others how to move past life's hurdles with a new two-hour class — Yoga for Getting Over It.

"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 Saturday at Chelsea Piers' Mind and Body Studio and plans to teach it nationwide while touring for her new book "Hello American Lady Creature," a memoir of her time in Qatar.

She then intends to return to Chelsea Piers and offer the class again, but dates have not been set.

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."