In March of this year I was driving home from teaching two back to back yoga classes on a gorgeous Florida morning. Traveling on A1A a, beautiful palm tree lined route that hugs the Atlantic ocean, I stopped at a crosswalk to let a pedestrian pass. She cleared my side of the street, and as I lifted my foot off the brake to proceed forward a car hit me from behind. There was not a skid mark on the road so it appears the driver that hit me did not even try to stop. My car was totaled. Ten months out I am still in pain from the neck injuries I sustained. I will likely be writing more about the accident and the aftermath here as I continue to process it. Below is something I wrote one week after the crash:
A week ago my car was totaled, with me in it. At first I was happy to be alive. My back wasn’t broken! My pelvis wasn’t smashed! By day three, I was really hurting. The chiropractor sent me for x-rays at a walk-in clinic, and for an MRI.
With three herniated discs in my neck, one torn, I am able to teach, but not demo. Teaching takes my focus off the physical pain and a mountain of red tape we have to deal with. I teach, but then I need to rest. I keep it together for an hour, and then I need to go lie down.
The walk-in clinic where I went for x-rays was filled with sick people. I tried not to breathe or touch anything, but ended up with a bad cold anyway. Now every time I cough or sneeze, I have to brace my neck with my hands or it’s excruciating. My head hurts.
Today, I went to the outdoor yoga class my teacher Leslie offers on Saturday mornings. I’ve done gentle stretching since the accident, but have not been able to practice. The class is vigorous and I knew I wasn’t up for it, but I needed to be in the presence of my community.
Lying on my back I surrendered to just absorbing the yoga all around me. A big part of me wanted to get up and prove what a trooper I am. It was all ego. I stayed on my back, breathing.
Yoga teachers say all the time, “If you come to class and just breath, you’re doing yoga.” But do we mean it? Could I do it myself?
I inhaled. I exhaled.
My ego’s next attempt to hook me was this, “If you can’t do the practice, then you will visualize it. You will lie on your back, and see the whole thing, and you will study! You will improve your teaching by really listening to the cues! You will do, do, do, do, do!”
Observing my thoughts was painful.
If I can’t allow myself to rest, after a serious car accident in which I was injured, (and with a bad cold like a rotten cherry on top) then when can I? If I can’t cut myself a break, aren’t I the hypocrite, encouraging my students to be kind to themselves?
Quiet tears streamed down the sides of my face. A gentle breeze scattered leaves from a tree above.
Breathing in, I did my yoga. Breathing out, I surrendered over and over.
On the way home, sobs from the trauma that I’d been holding in for a week had out.
I went to yoga and barely moved.
It was the most challenging practice.