The first person I knew, really knew, practiced with and was friends with that opened up her very own yoga studio was Nancy Kimberly. That yoga studio was The YogaSpot. That was back in 2000. Nancy is now the first person I know, really know that is getting a hip replacement.
I knew Nancy was going to be my friend when I walked into my first ashtanga class and saw her headstand. That was back in 1993, when we did ashtanga at Ninth Street Dance Studio. That girl, and that headstand occupying that girl, where going to become a part of my life.
Did yoga lead her to the operating room or did it prepare her for a quick recovery, or has it just been occupying her time…
A quick glance makes it look like the yoga is what led her to the operating room, but since I have been right by Nancy’s side throughout these decades of yoga I suggest a second look.
Nancy started yoga because of a family history on her father’s side of the 50 year olds having terrible hip issues and needing hip operations. It is the chicken AND the egg all over again. Which came first? The genetic propensity for a messed up hip or the need to mend the messed up hip? In Nancy’s case they came together. Nancy chose the tool of yoga to investigate her future in the ongoing present with yoga.
Has yoga let Nancy down? Has Nancy let yoga down by admitting that yoga was not enough to prevent her from developing a debilitating and excruciatingly painful hip problem. I say NO! Nobody has let anybody down, It is not yoga’s fault and it is not Nancy’s fault. It is not the stars fault and it is not the point to look for a fault. Nancy and yoga have spent many wonderful years together. They enjoy spending time together, and that is the cornerstone of a good relationship. In sickness and in health.
Too much emphasis is being put on the happy hip parade side of yoga. The side of yoga that makes you feel and look better. That is the product placement aspect of yoga, and really it is not yoga at all, it is the marketizing of yoga, and that is not yoga.
Yoga is a tool for investigating the pain of life. Yoga is a tool for removing the veil that separates the individual from the SELF. Yoga is a tool for investigating the choices, the habits of thinking that make the inevitable appear avoidable and the avoidable appear inevitable. Yoga is about self-reflection, deep wringing yourself inside and out profound change. Change can be uncomfortable. Change can hurt. I am not talking physical hurt. I am just talking about yoga. Since I am not trying to sell you my yoga I do not have to pretend that yoga is going to take away your pain. Change hurts.
Yoga requires dedication with consistency over a long period of time.
In the end, or in the today, when Nancy gets that hip operation– Nancy, Nancy’s yoga practice, and Nancy’s genetics converge. These three have a complicated, multi-faceted and wonderful long-term relationship. Today they are having a very tough day.
xo suzanne faulkner
2 thoughts on “Death & Taxes & Hip Openers”
I am humbled by your attention, your love, and your incredible understanding of me and my yoga. I bow to you, old friend, and give you a giant hug. Then coffee and a chat. 😚
As best we can tell, Ashtanga Yoga was developed by Sri T. Krishnamacharya at the Mysore Palace School between the 1933 through early 1940’s; as far as we know, Manju Jois and Patabhi Jois’ Western students are the first persons to have continued the practice into middle age and beyond; we have scant records of long-term practice of other forms of yoga in pre-modern India; only recently have we begun to understand the long-term physical effects of yoga practice of any sort. So it will be interesting to see what happens to us, physically.
Since Jois usually did not commend much more than asana to even his most devoted Western students (and I think the Indian students as well), we aren’t provided with a fixed way of proceeding into the other limbs of yoga, and indeed one might not pursue other limbs, continuing instead with one’s religion of birth, meditating at a Zen Center, or starting one;’s own line of yoga gear (or maybe that’s a new limb). These multifarious pursuits can seem disconnected from one’s asana practice — or deeply connected to it, but in ways that are difficult to articulate, especially since folks are off on so many different tracks it’s difficult to find dialog partners with whom to practice understanding what’s going on inside of oneself. So it will be interesting to see what happens to us spiritually.too.
I hope that various fora will emerge, maybe online blogging networks, maybe discussion groups centered around an Ashtanga studio, maybe other informal communities, where people can reflect honestly and in a holistic way on the implications, both physical and spiritual, of sustained Ashtanga practice.
In the meantime: many, many thanks to Nancy for her leadership in Ashtanga in my hometown of Durham, and best wishes to her for a good recovery and lots more yoga with that shiny new hip!
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