Through all of last year, while many actors found their own path to be the fittest version of themselves, actress Yami Gautam took to practising yoga, a form of fitness that she had struggled with in the past. The reason? It’s an accident that dates back to her college days, which caused a neck injury that’s been a part of her life ever since. In August 2020, she even shared a detailed post about how she managed to overcome the odds. “This lockdown, I got to explore something which I couldn’t before! Every time I would try practising Yoga, I would be left more in pain owing to my condition, hence my experience never encouraged me to continue.. but this time, I self-tutored my way through and allowed my body to heal itself inside out and it has worked like never before! This lockdown was not about ‘looking fit’ or ‘workout of the day’ … it was the time where I listened and just went with the flow (sic),” she wrote.

The Bala actress spoke to Bombay Times about the hit-and-run accident that left her with this neck injury, which she has rarely ever spoken about. Recounting that chapter of her life, Yami says, “It happened one morning when I was heading to the university in Chandigarh. I was on the highway riding my two-wheeler when the car ahead gave the wrong signal. The driver signalled that she would be going right, but instead, turned left and knocked me down. The car sped away without stopping. It was very quick and too sudden to register what had happened. I am thankful that I was wearing my helmet. I was unable to move and could have been run over by another passing vehicle. However, a man pulled over and helped me get back on my feet.”

About the injury, she elaborates, “This accident happened during winter, and you know, up north we have to wear many layers of clothes. Thanks to the weather, I was wearing multiple layers, and thus, it saved me from any external injuries. I had no scars and bruises, however, the accident left me with an internal injury. The doctors told me it was a fracture in the neck. At that point, I realised how serious the injury was, especially when they told me that I would never be able to work out in my life. Back then, I wanted to be an IAS officer.”

Being in the profession that she is in today, which requires her to be extremely active and follow a fitness regime, the injury has resurfaced multiple times. “The minute you had to be in five-inch heels and run around too much, the pain would resurface. I obviously want to be professional, be on my toes and be able to do all kinds of activities, so through the years, I have been taking precautions to avoid a relapse,” says Yami, who utilised the time during the lockdown to practise yoga to heal the injury for a longer term. “With yoga, I am indeed getting better,” she says.

About taking to social media and opening up about the incident, Yami elaborates, “I want to tell people that they should not judge anyone on the basis of their physical appearance. Someone might appear fit, but you don’t know whether they are deficient in something. Everybody has their own battles to fight. Subjects like these are something that we are very scared of addressing. We are all apprehensive of sharing such things, but I took a step ahead. I want people to read it and connect with it. No one wants to know what is going on within, but it is fine to open up about your flaws and show that they can be worked upon.”

Given what she has experienced in the past, Yami gets worried whenever she sees someone riding a two-wheeler without a helmet. “When I was in college, a few classmates would tease me over my helmet, but I felt lucky that I had it on at the time of the accident. I always wore a helmet. Today, I see girls wearing a scarf over their heads to save their skin and hair and an oversized shirt to save their outfits from the dust while riding bikes, but come on, hair, skin, clothes are secondary — safety comes first!”

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