“I fell from a balcony, landing on my head. This caused a traumatic brain injury, a brain injury classed as one of the 20% most serious types, immediately requiring a life-saving operation.”
My name is Max Munro and I am a 22-year-old Yoga teacher based in London, UK. I had been teaching more and more, with a promising career as a yoga teacher ahead of me. But just over a year ago, on the 11th February 2018, my hopes and dreams changed dramatically. I fell from a balcony, landing on my head. This caused a traumatic brain injury, a brain injury classed as one of the 20% most serious types, immediately requiring a life-saving operation.
The injuries it caused
I had a bleed on the brain at the point of impact, which required 16 staples down the right side of my head, plus a second bleed on the opposite side of my head to the impact site. And I severed the two halves of my brain. I also fractured an eye socket, displaced vertebrae C7 and C2 and suffered ligament and tendon damage to my right hand.
I was unconscious for 11 hours and suffered post-operative amnesia for twelve days after the injury.
Then began the long recovery process
After a few days of physiotherapy and a wobbly start, my arm balance and inversions training kicked in. These had been my strengths prior to my accident and I was soon standing on a balance ball on one leg.
But I knew things were not as they once were – I’d need endless patience to make as full a recovery as possible. My consultant said this recovery time could take up to two years.
“In fact, I‘m just grateful to be alive.”
Life is going to be different
During my seven weeks in hospital I was over loaded with information about things I could no longer do, some of them obvious, some not so much: no alcohol (for a year), no extreme sports, no parkour (free running), no contact sports (I loved martial arts), no getting over-tired (very dangerous after brain injury due to the susceptibility to seizures), and no driving for a year.
I have memory issues, which may remain with me indefinitely due to the severity of my injury. However, I haven’t felt depressed or suffered from mood swings, all of which are common symptoms following a brain injury.
In fact, I‘m just grateful to be alive.
I can speak normally and I have no impairment of muscle movement. But the outcome could have been very different: I saw many other patients trying to recover in my ward, and they were struggling with their recovery mentally and physically. I found this hugely upsetting to see, especially as they were mostly youngsters of a similar age to me.
“The doctors believe that the combined mind and body qualities of a sustained yoga practice are playing a significant role in my recovery.”
Did yoga help?
So, this brings me to the $64 million question: “Did yoga save my life”?
Well, it certainly helped in several ways. My Consultants have described my recovery as ‘remarkable’, especially after sustaining such a traumatic injury.
They’ve been surprised at the speed of my recovery.
This may in part, be due to my high level of fitness and young age. However, according to my consultant and clinical psychologist, the part of my brain that deals with speech, logic and memory – which was damaged in the accident – is being aided by another part of my brain, which they believe is compensating for the injuries.
The doctors believe that the combined mind and body qualities of a sustained yoga practice are playing a significant role in my recovery.
Will I teach yoga again?
As I move onward with my life and my yoga journey, I feel humbled and thankful – and perhaps a better version of my former self.
Since leaving hospital I have attended several yoga classes and taught part of a class just two weeks after my discharge.
And just 10 weeks after my injury, I taught my first full class and felt exhilarated. I have been given a second chance, and will tread a more thoughtful path in the future. I hope to persuade young people and men in particular that yoga can transform lives in so many ways – and may even help save your life!
I pray those young people in hospital with me, with similar injuries but very different outcomes, recover as fully as possible in the fullness of time.
I can only express my sincerest and deep felt thanks to the surgeon who saved my life, the paramedics, consultants, doctors, therapists, nurses, cooks, cleaners, porters, family, friends and well-wishers, many of whom were unknown to me, that have helped me so caringly since my life-changing injury.
My name is Max Munro I’m 22 and I’ve been teaching yoga for 4 years, I’ve also been teaching for the past few months having suffered a life changing traumatic brain injury, it proves to me that yoga has changed and saved my life, no words contain my gratitude, namaste.