There’s nothing more humbling than aging. We begin to accept things that, as our younger selves, we didn’t ever imagine we’d have to. Wrinkles, stretchmarks, gray hair. For those of us who want to stay active, every time we get on a basketball court, go for a run, or get onto our yoga mats, we run the risk of getting hurt.
Recently, I sprained my ankle. I wasn’t dribbling up court, sprinting out the last quarter mile, or even moving gracefully into Warrior I, I was bringing water out to fill up the birdbath. I stepped wrong and wrecked my ankle. For those of us who have injured ourselves in this foolish way, you know how much a hard roll can hurt.
When I turned mine on the uneven ground, I had a moment where the pain was so awful I thought I would actually vomit. I hobbled inside, got a bag of frozen corn, and sat for several hours hoping to stave off swelling. It was marginally successful, but now over a month later, there remains some tender tissue and loss of range of motion.
This injury came to me just as I was advancing in my yoga practice. I was beginning to think, “I’m getting pretty good at this. I look like I know what I’m doing. I’m going to try some new things, because I’ve achieved mastery on some of the basics.”
And then, near-vomit-inducing pain came along to knock my ego down and remind me of my limitations.
Had I been in my teens, this injury would have been fully resolved weeks ago. Now that I’m solidly in my mid-forties, I take longer to heal. In fact, there is a tiny piece of me that thinks I’ll never get back to where I was. Thankfully, the better part of my consciousness has put aside that negative self-talk to remind me of my (presumed) physical resiliency.
And that’s where I have to “meet myself.” In order for me to move on from that sprain, I simply have to keep getting up early and going over to the studio to practice. Lucky for me, my teacher is in her early fifties and sets the bar for my continued investment in the practice.
My ankle is bothering me right now, but I hope in an little while, after I’m warmed up a bit, I’ll be able to use the movements of the practice to endorse the continued, very slow healing of a midlife injury. Because what’s the alternative?
Accept this as a yoga-ending injury?
I don’t think so. And I hope my body will follow my mind on the road to recovery and someday I’ll find future success on my mat.