Last week I was walking down the street in NYC and a woman hip-checked me. It was an accident. She felt terrible. But I went flying. I had the presence of mind to stick my foot out to try to regain my balance, but I happened to be near one of the tree planters that line the streets, so there was nowhere for my foot to go. The world started to move in slow-motion as I felt my ankle bump into the planter and my body go down. I remember thinking, “You are actually falling. You are going to hit the ground. I hope I don’t break my ankle.” Boom. I landed in the planter on my side. I had not been able to catch my fall with my hands.
I was ok. I stood up, accepted the woman’s panicked apologies, brushed myself off, and raced for the subway, as I was now late for picking up my son. But as the adrenalin wore off, I started to ache. I had scrapes on my arms (through two layers of clothes!) and over the next few days, I developed deep purple and yellow bruises on my hip, leg, and back. The worst bruise was on my elbow, which is apparently where I landed with most of my weight. I guess I went down pretty hard. I was lucky. I am grateful. I think my yoga practice saved me from real injury.
You hear lots of stories of people recovering from physical injuries or accidents through a yoga practice, but what is interesting to me about this experience is that the yoga prevented me from being really injured. I believe the added flexibility in my joints and muscles provided the flex my body needed to bruise, but not break.
One time on vacation, I practiced on Maui. It was fabulous, of course, but I mention it because there was an older man in the class who had a similar experience. He told us how he had recently fallen on a hike and while he was bruised and sore, he had escaped serious injury. He was in his 70s, and often at that age, a fall can mean a dangerous break. He credited his yoga practice for the added balance and flexibility that he believed prevented a debilitating injury.
I think he was right. It happened to me.
I had always planned to maintain my yoga practice for the rest of my life, and after this experience, I am even more convinced of the benefits of the practice, particularly as we age. To both recover from injury and help prevent it, yoga is an important remedy, and one that I am grateful to have in my life today and everyday.
Fellow yogis, has your yoga practice prevented an injury in your life?