Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Doing Yoga with Shoes on

I bought some shoes the other day. Actually, I bought three pairs of shoes in less than two weeks, which is the first time I've bought shoes since I bought the black pumps I wore for the classy date my husband and I went on celebrating our five-year anniversary of being together, not too far off of a year ago, and those were the first shoes I bought since I bought some snow boots two years before that. It's not just being a yogi and hence trying to avoid mindless consumption-shoes just aren't really my thing. This shoe binge was prompted by the realization that the only non-snow boots I owned have been around since my mom bought them for me...when I was thirteen...ten years ago.

So, I go out, I buy these fabulous slate grey over-the-knee boots, I wear them, I love them, my feet hurt, I realize these shoes are not Emily's-foot-shaped, and I remember why I'm not into shoes. I'm not into anything that suggests that if I'm not a certain way then I am wrong, and the object in question is correct.

That realization led me back out for more shoes, not at DSW this time but at Payless, because I already invested in one pair of boots, and I'm not about to "invest" in another. I tried on several pairs, foiled each time when I discovered that only a certain color or style, and not the one that I wanted, is on sale. Finally, with only two minutes to go before I have to rush over to Namaste for a Medicine Wheel Workshop, I find a pair of cute, size 7 1/2, on sale, little ankle boots with a kitten heel, and a rounded toe. Thank God, Allah, Shiva, Buddha, the Universe, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

The very next day I pulled those puppies on, approved of my reflection in the mirror, and set off, with my chin held a little higher than usual.

Are you familiar with the phenomenon of "teacher shoes"? The sound of dressy pumps worn by a purposeful woman coming down a (likely marble) hallway? Maybe this is a Catholic school thing. These were teacher shoes. I'm used to flipflops, chuck taylors, and lately, snowboots. My shoes are quiet, even stealthy. These produce a noticeable echo. I spent the first block trying to re-learn how to walk quietly before I started to wonder who exactly I'm worried will hear me. That moment of self-observence was enough to activate my inner Mountain Pose: tailbone under, tummy firm, heart lifted, shoulders softening down the back, neck long, crown of the head lifting. Between that self-adjustment and the two inch heel, I suddenly felt about six feet tall and regal as a queen. I started to notice the subtle variations in the sounds of my wooden heels on the sidewalk: something of a, 'cauk cauk cauk' perhaps. There was also a pleasant sort of a call and response between left and right foot. Sometimes Left took the part of the higher-pitched call, and sometimes Right did.

I don't know if new shoes, or old ones for that matter, can do this for everybody, but buying two pairs of boots (and a pair of toning tennis shoes; don't judge me!) led me to question habitual thought patterns and reconnect in a very immediate way with the idea of meditating every minute: being truly present for my walk to the train, instead of an hour or so ahead of myself in the class I was on my way to teach.

The point of this meandering tale is, the best yoga I do is off the mat. If you pay attention, I'll bet it's the same for you.

Live omily,

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