My first thought as I lost my balance and crashed to the deck this morning was: Thank goodness for my yoga. My second thought: ouch, my knee.
Thank goodness, because a fall like that could have been much worse. It had all the elements of a trip to urgent care: high heeled boots, a semi frozen wooden deck, and the series of repeated forceful jerks it took to get the weather swollen door to fit into the frame behind me as I tried to leave for work (running late, of course). Factor in having my weight being way off center due to the laptop bag swinging off my shoulder while I tried to hold the screen door open with my free hand and I’m lucky I didn’t tumble down all the steps when the final decisive jerk closed the door behind me.
As it happened, my heel slipped out from beneath me and I landed what might loosely be viewed as Skandasana (Archer’s pose). My left leg sprawled extended to the side and my right knee slammed into the line where the rubber doormat met the deck just a second before (or after) my palms touched down. For a moment I just rested there, doing a mental status check for damage of all the affected joints and muscles. Ankles: good. Check. Left knee: good. Check. Right knee: ouch. Check.
Hold on a minute.
As I set my bag down and maneuvered my left heel underneath me, I experimented with shifting the weight from my bent right knee – waiting the sharp stab of pain in the joint. I’m no stranger to knee issues: coming from a family full of them. But after ten years of yoga I find my knees to be stronger and more resilient than they’d ever been in spite of all they have been through.
This morning was no different. As I leaned on the porch railing, rocking my weight from one foot to the other, testing my right knee and waiting to see if it would register any more than the dull ache of a newly forming bruise (and contemplating whether I should retreat to the couch for a bag of ice as preventative medicine) I realized how many things had gone right in a split second of chaos thanks to my habit of putting my body in awkward positions on a regular basis:
1. I am comfortable falling. I think the sound I made was something like a “wooaa-oof” as I went down and the air escaped my lungs. It was about the same sound I’ve made tumbling out handstand or losing my balance in side angle. I’ve experienced the sensation of being not in control of my body on the yoga mat enough times that when it happened in real life there was no sense of panic. Alarm and surprise yes. But ultimately I knew I was going down and didn’t bother fighting it.
2. My body knew where to go. Was it an accident I wound up in some semblance of a yoga pose (and one that I happen to really enjoy)? Quite possibly. I’m also willing to entertain the thought that by giving my body practice getting into (and out of) positions that aren’t generally a part of the standard office workers repertoire (sitting on butt, hunched over keyboard for too many hours a day, anyone?) my body had something to work with when things got unpredictable. I’m no ninja, but just maybe, rather than just collapsing in a heap, some muscle memory kicked in and put me in a position that was familiar, if a little unusual, for a Monday morning at 8am.
3. It’s all about attitude. As I glanced around to see if any of my neighbors had witness my little party trick I found myself smiling. No need for coffee this morning. I was officially wide awake. When my knee passed the muster, I officially started to laugh.
Sure, it could have been much worse. But I could not have landed better, without as much as a splinter in my palm from the mossy old deck or a pulled muscle (groin or hamstring, ouch). As it stands, the bruise on my knee is no worse than the ones I’ve acquired bumping into chairs or the benches at the kitchen table on my way into my seat at mealtimes.
So yes, thank goodness for my yoga.
Speaking of, I’m now teaching on Saturdays at a gym in Bothell. The class size averages about 20 people and it’s rapidly becoming the highlight of my week. I’ll be teaching community classes in Seattle soon, and will get my schedule posted at some point in the near future.