by Ann Kimmage
Wanted by the FBI, Ann’s pro-Communist parents escaped the United States to the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. At only eight years old, Ann was forced to begin a thirteen-year exile, mostly in Stalinist Czechoslovakia, then in a Russian school in Mao’s China, with stretches in Mexico. Each new country demanded a new name and a fabricated past existence, which led to the continuous altering, fragmenting, and burying of her American identity. Secrecy and hiding became her armor, and she wore it well until her parents renounced Communism to return to the United States. Forced to go back with them, she mourned the loss of her Czech self. She felt estranged from America and functioned as an alien in an unknown place.
Stumbling into a yoga class at age 57, she felt more awkward and out of place. Yet, something unfamiliar and incomprehensible nudged her senses. These new sensations stimulated her curiosity. Yoga made her feel conscious. A new world of powerful postures and breathing techniques communicated wordlessly with her shattered self. Could yoga heal a disconnect, a fragmented self that should never have been?
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