February 3, 2014 started out like any other morning. I got up early to move my car due to our building plowing the lots. I took my Yorkie, Pixxie, out for her morning walk, but with sub-zero weather I decided she would rather I carry her (spoiled pooch, I know).
As I carried her down the inclined driveway of our building, I stepped on a patch of black ice. My feet went out from under me and I landed full-force on the back of my skull.
When I got up I immediately knew I wasn’t ok, but I had no idea the years-long journey I was about to embark on. With an excruciating headache, I saw proverbial stars in my vision. I wasn’t sure I could bend over to pick up Pixxie – she sat shivering about 10 feet away from me, so we are pretty certain I went unconscious for at least a few minutes.
Every 11 seconds someone in the United States will suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can happen in literally the blink of an eye, and your life may never be the same ever again.
It took me over two and a half years to find the right doctors to help me finally find some relief from the constant dizziness and headaches. I am nine years into my recovery, and I would say I am finally feeling 90% better, though there are parts of me I have come to accept as the new me, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Through this journey I met some of the most incredible warriors, and have also come to know who I truly am and what I am meant to do.
Early on in my recovery I turned to yoga, my go-to for feeling better. However, this time, I didn’t know where to start. I not only suffered a TBI, I also sustained a dislocated sternum, severe whiplash, and torn muscles throughout my neck and shoulder area. I met with my yoga teacher privately, and together we came up with five poses I could safely do. I did those poses every single day, sometimes twice a day. I noticed my range of motion, mobility, and balance slowing coming back. Yoga became a daily part of my recovery — and remains that way nine years later.
About a year into my journey I attended a screening of “The Crash Reel,” which follows olympic snowboarder, Kevin Pearce, through his training for the 2010 Vancouver olympics. About two weeks before the olympic games, he had a terrible crash and suffered a life-threatening TBI. Kevin and his brother, Adam, founded the nonprofit, LoveYourBrain (LYB), in 2014 as a way to give back to the community and help survivors and caregivers build resilience.
In 2019 I had the opportunity to attend the LYB Yoga Teacher Training in Jacksonville, FL as a community Ambassador. At the time, I wasn’t a certified RYT yoga teacher, but had been practicing for about 20 years. I would eventually get my 200RYT in 2020 during COVID lock-down, and I began teaching online yoga classes to my TBI Tribe (a FB group that has grown to almost 11,000 members). I blended my LYB training with my chair yoga training into something extraordinary my community thrives from.
Yoga truly helps us heal, not only physically but mentally and emotionally. As Patanjali clearly says: yoga is a state of mind.
The LoveYourBrain Foundation is a non-profit organization improving the quality of life of people affected by traumatic brain injury and raising awareness about the importance of brain health. They offer free, research-backed yoga, meditation and mindfulness programs, and retreats for TBI survivors and caregivers. To learn more visit www.loveyourbrain.com or follow on social media @loveyourbrain.
photo caption: Amy(R) with LYB leaders Kyla Pearce (L) and Ramsay Pierce (C).