Last September I was in a car crash that resulted in my vehicle being ‘written off’ – and I felt sort of the same way. Luckily I left the car wreck – with bumps, bruises, and only whiplash. This term whiplash isn’t a medical term, It’s actually used to describe neck pain following injury to the soft tissues of the neck ligaments, tendons, and muscles. It is movement beyond the neck’s proper range. It is caused by a flexion-extension motion of the neck that pulls and strains the neck muscles and ligaments. A doctor may use the more specific terms of cervical sprain, cervical strain, or hyperextension injury.
Yep – a yoga instructor with whiplash – thankfully, as a newly Level 1 YTU Certified Teacher, I had skills for self care! Well, I did use some pain killers. I was in shock and emotionally hurt. I was not able to stand, sit up straight, or even put on a shirt. My spine was in a full on C shape. However, I could put on pants, pet my dog, and breathe. So I breathed, and read my Yoga Tune Up® Manual, my Trail Guide, and planned my recovery and classes.
I used the YTU Therapy Balls daily from feet to shoulders. I massaged every muscle I could – what I learned in YTU was that the body has a conversation with itself and it has memory. I thought I’d recover positive muscle memory – well, the body also remembers trauma. Every time I hobbled into a car my breath was shallow. If someone was driving too fast, or bumpy I could see and feel my accident and the blunt forces of the car rolling. I needed to practice my Yogic Complete Breath and coax recovery into my body.
So I had time to practice the Yoga Tune Up® poses, minivinis, ball work, and pranayama. My most favorite and what I am so proud that I can do today is Revolved Abdominal pose. It proves my spine is healthy and my core is strengthened from every fiber inside and out – I have something deep inside me that is strong and helped me recover. I am not in panic mode when I drive, I can sit, stand, all in excellent posture thanks to all the types of self-care I learned as a YTU teacher.
“The body has a conversation with itself and it has memory”
Yes!!! This leads to physical samskaras (imprints/conditioning) and also, as you mentioned, mental and emotional samskaras. I know that I can’t predict this, but in creating a yoga class I worry about tapping into a student’s stored traumatic memory. Or to put it in terms of your statement: I worry about making that conversation, which she may have dimmed to a survivable level, louder because of a certain pose or movement in class. As far as I know, this has not happened in a group class (where it might be unsafe for the student) but it has happened to me with private students, where it was actually healing.
Great to hear that your road to recovery has gone so well. Who knows, maybe you’re even stronger and more flexible now than before the accident. Car accidents are terrible, and one of the worst things about them is that the tension they build up in our bodies can be insidious and accumulative over time. So, I agree that using the YTU therapy balls is fantastic for anyone who has been in an accident and/or is dealing with injuries from other causes.
I love this! Thanks for sharing your story re how YTU has such practical application. This will help my students.
Wonderful story of recovery Sherry. Trauma is definitely stored in the body and I have found the YTU balls to be an excellent way to remind your body and mind to connect back in to all the positives, to work through the areas in the body where trauma is being held which facilitates a more comprehensive recovery of body, mind and spirit. The best part about YTU is it empowers you to take an active role in being part of the healing process with your body, what a wonderful gift it is!
Very inspiring. Thank you for sharing.
Hi Sherry. I was drawn to your story because my mother has just been in a car accident, minor, but scary all the same. I have tied to offer her what yoga poses I know that could help her and now it confirms that I’m on the right track as of today. I just completed day one of my yoga tune up training here in Ottawa and had my first experience of rolling on balls. OMG. The deep rooted trauma of up years of physical abuse as a semi pro athlete came back into my awareness today. Eye opening and popping at the same time! I will reread your essay a few times for inspiration. Thank you!
I wish I had the skills and know how of Yoga Tune Up® when I was rear ended over three ago. Better late than never. Massage therapy is so costly but so healing. Not only are the Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls inexpensive they help me learn how to heal myself – so empowering!
It’s so great to hear how you took your own healing into your own hands! And addressing your whole body to create a new message for the tissue and the brain! Bravo!
Sherry, that is an awesome story of recovery with real life application of YTU! I frequently remind my students that all movement can be used to either heal or hurt our bodies and it is a blessing that you were able to find the movement that best suited your body’s ability to heal. Also, thank you for bringing up the point about having physical memories, that is very interesting. Kind of makes me think about how I shudder when I think about sitting at desk or confining myself to a small work space for hours on end.
What an inspiring demonstration of putting principles into effective action – and to do it at a point of trauma is truly courageous. As a survivor of two car accidents that were almost identical, ten years apart, I still have a few flinching moments. I’ve been commuting to the YTU training over a bridge and a much longer distance than I usually drive in pretty horendous traffic, so this is a reminder to use the breath, sit tall, and roll out my shoulders after driving, whatever the other homework is! Thank you for sharing your story.
It’s amazing how connected our nervous system is to our breath, and that we can overcome our sympathetic system by something as simple as breathing. We are so lucky, in the yoga community, to know this. And this story is such a good inspiration to get out there an share what we know. It’s so awesome to see you use your yoga off the mat!
It’s great to hear how you were able to integrate your training into your own recovery. We are our best healers and I love that YTP is giving us the knowledge and ability to self heal and share with others how to do the same. Kudos to you and the work you put into your recovery. Cheers to the amazing therapy balls and conscious purposeful breath!
On the trail to find the sources of my months long bout of chronic headaches, an MRI reveals that only one of the intervertebral discs, in my car crash of a neck is normal. I won’t even mention the mess around the processes, especially C7/T1. So what to do and who to blame? Looking back over the years, I can speculate about car crashes and falls and lifting too heavy weights, but none of it really matters. Inspired by my recent teacher training, I will be hunting up and down the body chains to see what works – starting with my feet, and moving up. This article reminded my that healing can take place; simple organized work is the key. Thank you.
So happy to hear you’ve recovered and you’re well! Car accidents, even minor ones, can wreak havoc. Self care is so important, and YTU Therapy Balls are amazing!
What a great story! The Yoga Tune Up and the Therapy Balls have helped me after a car accident too… not panicing when I get in the car, using my Yogic breath and re-wiring my muscles to be comfortable. Such a gift to have the tools of Yoga Tune Up.
Lovely and inspiring post, Sherry! I think all of us come to YTU with at least some injuries (new or old) to heal and it’s great to hear that you were able to be so proactive with your recovery.
Thank you Sherry for sharing your story, it is truly amazing to know that YTU provided you with the tools you needed for what I am sure must have been a very trying recovery time. I was also intrigued by your mention of emotional recovery as this seems very closely linked to a topic that was mentioned earlier in my day about samskaras. It seems the experience of great trauma can carve paths as deep as any chronic bad habits. Glad to hear that you bounced back though!
Although I have not been involved in a car accident, I feel so inspired by your strength and motivation to putting the work in to heal yourself. These balls and YTU are what EVERY body needs to correct, heal, realign, and embody their vessels on physical, mental and spiritual levels.
About a year ago, I too was in a car accident where I was moderately injured. My lowback and hips went into spasm and I couldn’t even stand up straight, I had to go through several physical therapy appointments to get myself moving right again. Since then, I’ve discovered Jill’s SMR with the balls – they have been extremely helpful when that old injury tries to sneak its way back in on me. Thank you for sharing your experience!
What you experienced was far more intense than what I experienced yesterday. One my way to the training for YTU level one I ended up being hit by a dump truck. The driver left the scene, but while I waited for the State Trooper I went right to self-care on my neck and upper back muscles with the therapy balls I had in the car. This morning zero stiffness and all is well. To say I am filled with gratitude is a understatement. 🙂
It’s amazing how intelligent our bodies really are. I am also proud to say that I can now read the YTU/anatomy lingo and know what the author means by “flexion” and “extension.” Every time I come across a word I visualize my body part doing it. I’m glad everything worked out for you and you were able to use your own skills to enable your recovery!
I’m so happy to hear about your recovery process and that the Yoga Tune Up balls and techniques are what aided you most. It inspires me to further my studies and use of the balls.