When I started my teacher training, it was February, and we were living in a gritty part of town in a furnished sublet.
In the dark before dawn, I would leave him sleeping and walk carefully down the three flights of stairs that hugged the old Victorian, with my yoga mat tucked under my arm.
I walked toward the subway in the pre-dawn darkness. I walked down the middle of the quiet streets because there was no one up and no one driving, but also because I was afraid. The neighborhood had a reputation for gangs, for certain blocks you shouldn’t walk down, but I didn’t know which ones those were. Some streets had a lot of garbage in them, and some had none.
I saw no one, all the way to the train. I had a new jacket and gloves that kept me warm. When I stopped being afraid, it was peaceful.
I took the subway, and outside the window Boston became Cambridge. In the subway car, there was the special feeling that comes from early weekend mornings before anybody much is awake. With my mat across my lap, wrapped in that sleepy hour, I watched the few people nodding their heads on the train. There was tenderness, too, in there; the kind that comes from watching strangers fall asleep in public places that their bodies have decided is safe enough.
In class, when we began to move and to remember our own bodies, my teacher often said, “Now, go easy. Be gentle. It’s early days yet.”
I think of the people on the train, those early mornings in that neighborhood, my partner still sleeping in our little house at the top of the stairs, with the same glow of gentleness my teacher offered our early morning bodies.
My partner and I were happy there, for one last little while. Or, at least, I was.
My yoga teacher training carried me from winter to spring. It carried me into our new home in an upscale neighborhood of Boston, the one we had been waiting for. Sometime soon after, my partner helped me understand that loneliness had overtaken him. He felt like I was always gone and when I was home, I was still far away. But I felt that I had moved into myself.
Through those difficult months of April and May, my training continued. On the mat, I worked out the wash of emotions that came from the unending conversations and negotiations at home. On the mat, I moved back from my head into my body. In Savasana, tears leaked out my eyes and slid down into my ears. It made me think of swimming. I felt released and free.
And because of all that, when he and I walked by the river one evening as May was reaching toward June, I was clear-eyed. Because of all that, though we were deep in the pain of still trying to make it work, on this last walk in the park, I asked the right questions, and made up my mind. We’d often moved apart from each other and found a way to move back together. This time, I had a strength and sureness that was new. I recognized that we were again at the furthest point in our ever-repeating figure eight. “I think it’s a better idea this time,” I said as we crossed the footbridge, “As I love you and I love me, for us both to just keep going.”
The last training of my yoga program came shortly after. Before the first class, a girl I liked very much set up her mat beside mine. She had heard that my boyfriend and I had broken up. She looked thoughtful as she asked if I thought it was because of our training that my relationship had ended. I told her what I tell you now; that yoga has always been the best tool I’ve had for getting things unstuck, and we were a thing that was stuck.
My yoga teacher training began in February when I had lived with my boyfriend of three years. The relationship had been a source of strife and strength. My yoga teacher training ended at the beginning of the sticky summer, and so did my partnership.
Sometimes you leave the house, and you walk through the quiet streets alone. Sometimes you leave the house, and you just keep going.
Author: Thryn Harvey
Photo: Joisey Showaa/Flickr
Editor: Jean Weiss