Off the Mat, onto the Asphalt

“Life will bring you to your knees and rip you open in ways that will allow you to love. It is your heartbreak that will teach you compassion.” ― Seane Corn

“Aaaaaaaah, my knee!” — Me

I was riding home from a yoga class when it happened. I didn’t want to obey the stop sign–as I otherwise almost always do–and turned right, waiting for an oil tanker to go by, then I was to hang a U-turn and then turn right–thus going through an intersection without having to stop. (A typical move for a bicyclist with toe clips or clipless cleats who doesn’t want to go through the hassle of unclipping, or someone with peddles who is just tired and doesn’t want to come to a complete stop. It turns out there was a sedan right behind me. So when I executed the U-turn, his bumper hit my left knee and down I went.

I was lucky; he wasn’t traveling very fast and was right behind me. In fact, when he hit me I actually tried to stay on top of my bike. I ultimately lost my balance extended my freshly-traumatized leg and down I went. Within a minute I was back up and testing the strength of my left leg. I could stand on it, so it wasn’t broken. But it hurt like hell.

I bitched to the very sorry driver but soon figured out this was all my fault. When the driver and I parted ways, I opted to walk my bike for a short while to get it out of the intersection and call my wife who did not pick up or reply to the text message that followed. My son also did not respond to my call and text. It’s kind of funny, we have these mobile phones to stay connected, and in times like these they sure do come in handy, but when these post-modern technological wonders are needed the most, it is often the case they are as helpful as a phone booth without any spare change.

After walking my bike up a hill in pain. I realized riding my bike was a better option–I wouldn’t be putting nearly as much weight on the knee. So I rode home with relative ease. When I walked in the door wife and my son were sitting at the kitchen table like nothing was the matter until I told them to look at their phones. “Oh my gosh, are you alright?” Delayed reaction comedy.

I took the next day off hobbling around the house doped up on ibuprofen. When Sunday afternoon rolled around, I had my wife drive me to yoga. One thing about yoga that you can’t say about most exercise regimes is that you always feel better after a practice than before it, even if you feel like shit when you started. Not this time, though. I got through the class alright, but walking to the locker room, I felt like I had been cracked across the knee with one of those pipe wrenches. Maybe that’s a little over-the-top. Let’s just say it hurt a lot more after the practice than before.

seane cornI limped through the week riding my bike to work and back, but hitting the ibuprofen and acetaminophen probably too often. I skipped the four yoga classes that week and felt depressed about that. Yoga does not work–for me at least–the way vigorous aerobic exercise or weight-training does for others–stimulating the release of endorphins in the bloodstream, but there is a definite psychological effect when a regular routine has halted. Seane Corn, world-famous Vinyasa Yoga teacher, life coach, and co-founder of the activist group Off the Mat, Into the World, once said, “Yoga is a necessary tool for the survival of myself and others. I need to get on the mat every day – it doesn’t matter how long – 15 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours…or else I’ll pull the head off of someone I love.” I don’t practice every day like I keep saying I am going to, but going from practicing four times a week to zero times has definitely put me in a funk.

When I had to skip the Thursday class, one week after the accident, I couldn’t stand it any kneelonger and setup an appointment to see a doctor on the following Monday. After the doctor looked at my knee and examined the subsequent x-rays, it was determined there was “no evidence of acute fracture or malalignment…” Great news especially considering I got hit by a car!

The doctor’s Rx–besides ibuprofen– is applying a heating pad several times a day and wearing a compression sleeve. I still haven’t got the heating pad, but I wear the compression sleeve most of my waking hours, and I hate it. What’s worse, eating has replaced yoga. This doesn’t have to be the case, but it is currently filling a void.

Twelve days after the accident I showed up at my Tuesday Noon Ananda Yoga class–a low impact class where Brenda, a local teacher comes to our work where a small group of fellow employees practices with her. At first, it seemed the easier routine was going to work, but at the end of the class, I knew I still wasn’t ready. I signed up and paid for the next five weeks anyway and told Brenda I would donate my slot to whomever I could get to take my place if I didn’t feel up to it next week and maybe the week after that. I was touched by her encouraging words. She told me she would use some to some chair yoga postures from the Sunlight Chair Yoga book by Stacy Dooreck I had told her about a year ago. Karma!

I can relate to Seane Corn’s “need to get on the mat” even if it isn’t a need to practice every day. I admire Seane’s wisdom, skill, exuberance, and seemingly boundless positive energy. Anyway, I look at it, I need to get back on the mat!

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