Landing on Your Head is No Fun

Well, I suppose the worst did happen, and at the most unexpected time. 8/29/11. Brutal Monday. Exactly 1 week ago, I went to  morning mysore class before work and of course everything felt fine in the beginning — sort of like those little things that make a big difference in your practice. A good night’s sleep, a good clear feeling when I awakened, my back and wrists felt strong, and I moved through the standing and seated poses easily…even Garbha Pindasana (which usually gives me a hard time)…Setu Bandhasana, no problem. I thought, OK, this is the day for sure when I will try another unassisted dropback. In my mind’s eye, I carefully visualized how I would carefully arch and elongate my chest up, take my time bending back, pushing the weight forward through my hips as I reached my arms to the floor.

So then it was time for the dropback after my first three back bends. Andrew came by and I told him that I was ready to try one unassisted. He nodded and stood close by as I began arching back…dropping my head and seeing the wall, reaching my arms back, and…that pause, that second which is reminescent of that moment when you decide to drop in on a big wave, that second of suspension…I pushed through and everything careened way too fast and my arms were out but they couldn’t break the fall. I landed smack on my right forehead. I yelled and then a couple of expletives escaped my mouth, too, as I just lay prone on my mat, clutching my head in my hands.

I opened my eyes to see my teacher’s worried face peering into mine. “Are you OK?” Andrew said. I don’t remember exactly what I said, only the feeling of wanting to say, “I’m fine” but instead tears just trickled out. Finally I did manage to say I was fine, but Andrew helped me to sitting. I felt a little dazed and my neck was quite sore. The worries already began to flood my mind — what if I have a concussion? what if I fractured my C1 or C2? More importantly, how am I possibly going to last through clients from 12 to 8pm?? I felt like going back home and crawling into bed for a 4 hour nap. The thought of having to work until 8pm with an aching head just made me tear up more. Well, I managed to work through some finishing poses; I left out urdhva padmasana, pindasana, sirsasana, matsyasana — heck, I just did my three lotus flowers and that was it. Like a little old lady, I carefully showered, dressed, put on my makeup in preparation for the long day ahead of me, all the while taking full inventory of how my neck and head were feeling.

The incident gave me some pause. I took it was a lesson of wanting to do too much, too fast. In short, perhaps I was trapped in the ego for a bit, and this was a wake-up call. Slow down, the universe is telling me. Some poses need time to work into.  So now I am back to assisted dropbacks. I’m not sure whether it would take four more weeks, four more months, or four more years, before I work up to unassisted dropbacks, but I suppose the time for it will come. Right now I am just happy enough to be injury-free — still standing, walking, playing with my children, catching a wave or two. Bottom line: I refuse to force myself into a pose at the expense of my health.