Heartbreak and Yoga Mats

Heartbreak and Yoga

My boyfriend of 5 years broke up with me a week before my birthday. While I won’t go into reasons (yes I will: I was too flaky and he was too steady), I will say that it’s the hardest trial the universe has flung my way thus far.

I had been with him since I was 14 years old. We grew up together and molded our identities together throughout the years. Time eventually merged two souls into one, and the lines where he ended and I began became blurry. Needless to say, the breakup left me utterly and completely lost on the cusp of the all-knowing age of 19. 

So, what do you do when your soul doesn’t want you anymore? I think my procedure was pretty standard:

Deny it. Eat. Watch Pride and Prejudice. Cry. Kick. Scream. Watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Get drunk. Be a blacked out birthday slut with a tiara. Swear off men. Lift weights for a “revenge body.” Switch your major. Grow your hair out. Bring color back into your wardrobe. Reconnect with old friends. Smile. Still feel empty.

One day a friend persuaded me to go to a yoga class. It was Bikram yoga—the kind of yoga that and cooks you in a 104 degree room for an hour and a half. When I entered the oven, it was silent. I lay down on the towel over my mat and felt the last bit of outside’s coolness evaporate from its fibers.

Alone with my thoughts in a silent room, I thought of him. I wondered what he was doing. I was home for the summer and, being from a small beach town, knew that I would run into him eventually. I was in the middle of picturing the first painfully awkward encounter when the lights turned on and the teacher stepped onto the podium.

As a regular heavy lifter and gym extraordinaire, I admit that I had some unfair preconceptions about yoga. I thought it was for burnt out hippies who drink their vegetables and moms attempting to get fit after the age of 40. I believed that the ‘spiritual’ portion of yoga was merely the result of the poses cutting off blood circulation.

I can’t tell you how wrong I was.

Something happened in that room—something I’ve never experienced in all my years. My ego—the incessant white noise inadvertently looping inside my skull—quieted. I had never realized its exhausting presence until it slipped from the edges of my consciousness. In its absence, all that existed in the warm damp room was my breath, my body, and the words of my instructor floating in the air like prayers.

Amazing things happen when you divorce yourself from a chaotic, polluted mind. You realize that a lesser version of you is the one replaying the memory of him walking out the door, fixed neck bone and slick black hair, never looking back. This is the self that makes you feel ashamed of the loneliness and the tears. It’s the one that tells you that you are lost and cannot be found.

Something happened in that room. As sweat left me and dripped on to the floor, I felt my conscious mind fall with it. As I twisted into eagle pose, I no longer felt the coil in my gut. During rabbit pose, I discerned how small I was in relation to the broader space around me. In full locust pose, I felt strong. In spine-twisting pose, I quite literally turned the other cheek. In a state of dissociative relaxation, I realized that my true self was not one that clung to rigid fears and anxieties. It was one that twisted and flexed and stretched to meet the trials and tribulations of a new day.

That voice inside my head left me that day. It’s not to say that it never comes back, because it does. Heartbreak is inexplicable. I cannot write an article promising you “12 Steps to Heal Heartbreak.” I’m not here to tell you that it’s easy, or that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know that. All that I know is that on my yoga mat, there is no past or future. Both exist only in the mind. There is only the present moment: bend and breathe it in.