Tag Archives: yoga poses

Finding bliss in bare, naked feet

26 Dec

In my earliest childhood memories I am running out of the house headed for the backyard, my bare feet slapping a scorching ground. Inside the house, a pair of white-patent leather MaryJanes have been discarded.

My grandmother yells after me to put on my shoes. Young ladies with any decorum and education always wear shoes, I am constantly reminded. Bare feet are for the poor or those lacking social manners and upbringing.

I fight this battle for years. I long to walk with bare feet, but I am scolded for doing so. My feet are wide and not happy in shoes fashioned for narrow feet.

I lose the battle. A lifetime is spent squeezing my feet into unhappy circumstances: platforms, wedgies, spikey heels, narrow-toed mules, boots that crunch my achilles and torture my toes. Blisters and callouses come and go; and the end of work days is marked by the glorious removal of too-tight shoes — the intake and release of breath coordinated to that moment when leg muscles and ankle tendons return to natural states.

Formal affairs feature the obligatory exchange: “Can you walk any faster?”  my husband asks, enjoying the stroll from the car in his sensible men shoes. I limp along, summoning the words of Carrie Bradshaw:  These shoes pinch my feet but I love them.

And then the yoga journey takes hold.

Each morning, I step onto my mat, feet bare to the world, and ground them down into the Earth. I close my eyes and feel the monumental weight of my being bearing down on the heels and mounds of my feet. I lift the toes and spread them wide, a span immeasurable separates the big toe from the little toe and I stand firm. I feel the energy rising from under my mat, up my legs and through my being. I stand tall and strong, unwavering.

A few years ago, a colleague told me she had never in her life walked barefooted. She passed away not long after that and to this day, I am saddened thinking she never felt sand or cool wet grass, or the spring of hardwood floors under her feet.

These days, I have a  stack of shoe boxes in my basement, their contents the shoes I collected over the years in search for a misguided sense of fashion and decorum. I intend to give them away — although, frankly, I don’t wish them on anyone.

It has taken a lifetime to once again relish the feel of bare soles against wood, tile, earth. I tell my yoga students that every standing pose begins with the feet. We walk up to the tops of our mats, our feet bare, and draw that powerful energy from underneath. We stand with bare feet at the top of our mountains, proudly. The integrity of our triangles, tree poses and half moons depend on the strength and resolve of our arches, toe mounds, heels.

The girl who once ran out of house without shoes laughs again.