The Interplay of Stillness and Activity
In the quiet sanctuary of my hospital room, a confluence of stillness and activity defines my current state. My body lies immobilised, a new hip joint nestled within, while my mind races through a marathon of thoughts and emotions. Clad in the uniform of recovery—pressure flow socks gripping my feet—I’m awash with a sense of relief that’s almost euphoric in its intensity. This is ‘Santosha’, a contentment profound enough to weave together the disparate body, mind, and spirit strands into a tapestry of gratitude. It extends its threads to encompass my surgeon, Mr. Milington, his team, the bastion of modern medicine, and the earthly and ethereal love. The day’s procedure—a total hip replacement for my “funny left hip”—marks a significant turning point in my yoga journey and understanding the intricate dance between our practices and our being.
A Voyage Through Time and Self
As I rest with the backdrop of rhythmic beeping from the machines, I’m prompted to consider the layers of my past, each adding to my present narrative. If hindsight were my guide, what choices might I have altered in my 28-year-long yoga odyssey? In the early years of my practice, I pursued the mastery of asanas with a fervour that bordered on the evangelical. Did this intensity contribute to the wear and tear that led to today’s surgery? Yet, this same passionate commitment to yoga has been cited as the reason for my robust health—a paradox that has been noted with a blend of professional respect and mild surprise by my surgeon and the anaesthetist. This dichotomy is the essence of my reflection now, as I lie in the recovery room, a few short weeks from my 60th birthday, contemplating the complex interplay of action and consequence.
From Rugby Fields to Yoga Mats
My physical journey did not begin with yoga. It started on the rugby fields of my youth, where, at the age of 14, I experienced the first of many injuries—a torn meniscus. The injury, which should have slowed me down, instead became a testament to my body’s resilience. Seasons of rugby transitioned into summers spent swimming in the sea, the water’s resistance serving as a balm, alleviating the swelling and mitigating the injury’s persistence. As I progressed through the ranks, culminating in a position among players three years my senior, the demands on my body increased, setting a precedent for the compensations my body would continue to make throughout my life.
Life went on—with the injury as my constant, if unwelcome, companion. I chased culinary dreams in Oslo, skiing down slopes by winter, hiking through nature’s splendour by summer, all the while nurturing a knee that was less an injury and more a part of my identity. However, the discovery of mountain biking brought a turning point. The daily cycling ritual, the communion with nature, and the rhythmic pedalling brought healing. My knee, once a source of constant discomfort, found its strength again, and the torn cartilage became a distant memory.
The Embrace of Yoga
When yoga entered my life at 32, it was embraced by a body already seasoned by physical challenges and triumphs. I brought to the mat a history of endurance, a legacy of injuries, and a warrior’s spirit seeking a new battlefield. Yoga offered this in the form of asanas, pranayama, and meditation. But it was in the aftermath of a Sivananda class, in the stillness of Sivasana, that I discovered the core of yoga’s promise—a tranquility that had long eluded me. This newfound contentment was addictive, and I dove into the practice with the same intensity that I had approached sports.
The ensuing years were a tapestry of experiences woven from the threads of dynamic practices and the introspective sensory journey inspired by teachers like John Stirk and Marc Aquaviva. It was a passage from striving to sensing, from conquering to contemplating. My practice became a yoga journey, not just a sequence of postures but a dialogue with my inner self, a discovery of the body’s wisdom, and a surrender to the flow of life’s rhythms.
A Deeper Understanding of Personal Anatomy
A revelation, a moment of profound understanding during a workshop with Pete Blackaby, crystallised my awareness of my body’s individuality. As a group of yoga teachers observed, my physical limitations were laid bare—a foot that refused to lie flat against the floor and hips that defied the outward rotation so easily achieved by others. This was a truth I had known since my earliest days, a truth that was now shared and understood by others. This understanding has since been a guiding force in my personal practice and teaching, emphasising the importance of honouring the body’s innate intelligence over the rigidity of prescribed postures.
The Historical Context and Modern Application of Yoga
In the tapestry of yoga’s history, the innovations of Krishnamacharya stand out, shaping the practice into what it is today. His teachings, while revolutionary, were tailored for the young and lithe, only sometimes accommodating the varied landscape of human anatomy. This reflection on the tradition of yoga, coupled with the insights from my physical narrative, underscores the importance of adapting the practice to the practitioner—a philosophy that has been validated by my journey through hip surgery.
Reflecting on the question, “What would I do differently?” The true value lies not in changing the past but in the lessons learned and how they inform the present and future. The journey of yoga is a rich and complex one, full of paradoxes and personal discoveries. As I recuperate, the insights gleaned from years of practice and the recent surgery shape my resolve for the future. My practice, henceforth, will be a tapestry of these lessons—woven from threads of past experiences, present awareness, and future intentions.
In the grand scheme of things, my hip replacement marks a significant milestone, a pivot point that invites a deeper understanding of my body’s unique narrative. This surgical intervention has not only repaired a worn joint but has also offered a profound opportunity for renewal and reflection. It beckons a new approach to yoga—a practice that’s not just about achieving physical feats but also about nurturing the body, honouring its limits, and celebrating its capabilities.
There’s a profound liberation in accepting that the journey itself is the destination. The asanas, the breathwork, and the meditative states achieved are not merely stops along the path but are the path itself. They represent a series of evolving relationships: with oneself, with one’s body, with the practice, and with life.
As I look forward to the road ahead, I am equipped with a richer perspective. A perspective that values presence over perfection, process over posture, and the intrinsic wisdom of the body over the imposed rigidity of tradition. This is not a step back from the practice I have known and taught but a step into a more authentic engagement with it—one that understands the impermanence and evolving needs of the body, especially after major surgery.
My message to fellow practitioners and teachers is to embrace the uniqueness of every yogic journey. It’s crucial to listen—to truly listen—to the body’s innate intelligence and the subtle signals it sends. Yoga is not a one-size-fits-all practice, and as such, it should be adapted to fit each individual’s context—particularly when recovering from surgery or managing long-term conditions.
The paradoxes of yoga—a practice that can both challenge our physical limits and facilitate our healing—mirror the paradoxes of life. They teach us resilience, adaptability, and the beauty of balance. As I continue to heal and grow, I am reminded of the timeless wisdom that in stillness, we find movement, and in healing, we discover strength.
As I integrate these learnings, I invite my readers to ponder their own practices. To question, explore, and embrace yoga’s never-ending learning cycle. Share your stories, your challenges, and your victories. Together, let’s celebrate the diverse and transformative journey that yoga offers to each of us, hip replacements and all.
You can find out more about my yoga here: My Yoga.