I’m almost a biped again, yip yip! Six weeks to the day of my tumble I have graduated to listing along penguin-style, mostly without crutches. It’s a slow hop-along journey.
The night I fell off my bike, with my pelvis busted in three places, I stretched. Without an accurate notion of what my injuries were I went deep into conversation with my freaked-out muscles and nerves and tendons and bones. Press here, they said—breathe there, stretch, release, relax. I didn’t know what to do but my body knew exactly what it needed. All through that long night I listened, and thanks in part to practice and good teachers, I was able to hear and respond. Breathe, stretch, release, relax.
I certainly wasn’t primed for this fall, and yet amazingly, my body sets to the business of healing. My body forgives me, for all the coffee and maple-dip donuts, for all the days spent swinging in my hammock, for all the candles burnt at both ends. I’m no athlete or super health nut. And still, I heal. My bones knit, my body forgives. This small ordinary skin bag is nothing less than a god-given miracle.
This adventure is giving me a whole new appreciation of this thing called “yoga”. I’m sorry but I have to make with the quotation marks, because there are so many prejudices and preconceptions around the word—you know, those magazine pix of a svelte goddess striking the dancer pose on a rocky pinnacle, silhouetted against the sunset. It’s embarassing. I sometimes call what I do as “fauxga”. It’s not so fancy. Just the childlike act of listening to the body and letting it do just what it wants to do: stretch, balance, breathe.
The bone doc told me to keep moving everything that can move, and I notice that while I need to stabilize my injured pelvis, the rest of me can move. My quads and calves need to stay strong and flexible, to contradict the contraction of disuse. My arms need to stretch, for relief from the strain of leaning on crutches. My wrists, my ankles, my neck, all working overtime, deserve a little extra yoga love. I can bend, I can balance, I can flex. The more subtle postures like ’sphinx’ (which I have tended to pass over for more intense versions) are just the thing, to stretch my mid-back without stressing my pelvis. My practice doesn’t look very glamorous. In my fully functional life I dig the more vigorous and athletic styles, but right now, my bones are busted and I’m alone, in sweatpants. My “yoga” is gentle, subtle and slow.
I’ve been at this practice for decades both formally and improvisationally and it’s always been good. But right now, it is better than good. Right now, it is saving my life.
Om namo guru dev namo. I bow to the divine teacher within.