How can we boomers stay healthy as we get older? Ask twelve health experts and you might get twelve different answers, but here’s one from New York City health advocate and Bikram yoga practitioner Shari Eberts that makes some sense to us.
I was walking down the street in New York City not long ago and a woman hip-checked me. It was an accident. She felt terrible. But I went flying. I had the presence of mind to stick my foot out to try to regain my balance, but I happened to be near one of the tree planters that line the streets, so there was nowhere for my foot to go.
The world started to move in slow-motion as I felt my ankle bump into the planter and my body go down. I remember thinking, “You are actually falling. You are going to hit the ground. I hope I don’t break my ankle.” Boom. I landed in the planter on my side. I had not been able to catch my fall with my hands.
Surprisingly though, I felt okay. I stood up, accepted the woman’s panicked apologies, brushed myself off, and raced for the subway, as I was now late to pick up my son. But as the adrenalin wore off, I started to ache. I had scrapes on my arms (through two layers of clothes!) and over the next few days, I developed deep purple and yellow bruises on my hip, leg, and back. The worst was on my elbow, which is apparently where I landed with most of my weight. I guess I went down pretty hard. I was lucky. I am grateful. And you know what? I think my yoga practice saved me from real injury.
You hear lots of stories of people recovering from physical injuries or accidents through a yoga practice, but what is interesting to me about this experience is that the yoga seems to have prevented me from being really injured. I believe the added flexibility in my joints and muscles provided the flex my body needed to bruise, but not break.
One time on vacation, I practiced yoga on Maui. It was fabulous, of course, but I mention it because there was an older man in the class who had a similar experience. He told us how he had recently fallen on a hike and while he was bruised and sore, he had escaped serious injury. He was in his 70s, and often at that age, a fall can mean a dangerous break. He credited his yoga practice for the added balance and flexibility that he believed prevented a debilitating injury.
I think he was right. It happened to me.
I had always planned to maintain my yoga practice for the rest of my life, and after this experience, I am even more convinced of its benefits, particularly as we age. To both recover from injury and help prevent it, I think yoga is an important remedy, and one that I am grateful to have in my life today and every day.
Fellow yogis, has your yoga practice prevented an injury in your life?
Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate and avid Bikram yogi. Her bylines include The Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping and Healthy Living Magazine. She lives in New York City and has been practicing Bikram Yoga since 2010.