I don’t have many poignant memories that stay with me—really stay—after the fact. Everything inspirational fades, everything traumatic heals. So it always surprises me, when I’m finishing up a yoga class, and the inevitable final succession of poses to wind down the class occurs. Without fail, the last 5 minutes of class includes a pose called Supta Matsyendrasana, or Supine Twist, and the memory associated with it is raw and unexpectedly powerful. For those unfamiliar with this pose, it is a restorative twist where the yoga practitioner lays on their back, sends one bent knee across their torso to rest on the floor on the opposite side of their body, and then lays each arm out wide, resting their head looking out in the opposite direction of the knee. Sort of twisting your body and looking backwards. But first I should back up.
I used to be in love. Really, really head over heels with my best friend. And then one day, it ended. Spectacularly. It really crashed and burned. But as those things go, the fallout over the coming few weeks was messy and fraught with hope that there would be light through the darkness. There wasn’t. And so, five weeks later, when I found myself in the same yoga class as him, halfway across the room but with no one between to break the flow of human angsty energy, I was immensely tortured and again, hopeful. But as the class went on, I had to wrap my head around the idea that he and I would never do yoga together again.
You see, doing a yoga class with him when things were still great was a revelation for me. Never had I dated someone who would do something with me that I loved. Who would take a journey that I wanted to take. And then, when we were so clearly a couple in that sea of lithe, sweaty, pheromonous females, I was adrift on an iceberg of elation. When, during our mid-relationship spinal twist we reached out to hold hands while we transitioned into our final restorative savasana, I felt with certainty and permanence…”this is my partner.” And all was good in my world. In those moments where you’re blocking out the physical and setting your thoughts adrift, to have an energetic connection with someone is a powerful thing. What can I say? He was my person.
So when our friendship and loveship came crashing down in a way that can only be described tectonically as “The Big One,” finding myself in a studio that once meant “togetherness,” and now meant nothingness, I felt deeply lost. When we were guided into that final spinal twist at the end of class, looking back over my shoulder was like looking out into the abyss. I remember the way my spine felt as I got that deep rinse, while my face looked back towards everything that I was powerless against losing. I looked out at him 20 feet away, and it may well have been 20 miles.
So now, every time I finish a yoga class—which I love—I’m surprised to feel that memory wash over me with such demeanor-changing force. I look back over my shoulder, hoping that he’ll be there, but knowing that he won’t. Wondering what I’m supposed to take from the experience, or leave behind. Not quite relishing the recurrence of that image in my mind, but always surprised at its strength.