After class, a student informed me that she’d recently been experiencing foot pain and had made an appointment with a Podiatrist. We Yoga Therapists are careful not to diagnose, but I suggested that if it was a bunion, there is a possible correlation to how we stand, walk, and the shoes that we wear. That people who tend to carry their weight on the inside balls of the feet may be contributing to this condition. That switching to flat shoes, and changing how we walk and stand might offer relief and stop the progression of the bone growing on the inside base of the big toe. (see Ancestral Movement and the Gokhale Method) Though there is no consensus about what causes bunions, the body is amazingly resilient and builds support where needed – hence the hypothesis that the bone growth on the inside ball of the foot may be caused by distributing weight excessively in that area.
As I have been working on changing how I walk/stand based on Ancestral Movement patterns (Gokhale), I briefly felt the fatigue that constant awareness of my form can entail. Every time I walk to the bathroom, to the fridge, out to the car, while making meals, picking up the cat, and standing in line at the grocery.
Changing bad and ingrained old habits is work. Whether you’re trying to eat better or exercise more, altering your way of thinking and moving requires a special kind of motivation to befriend yourself in order to feel better.
As a teacher, I’m curious about people who are committed to taking care of their bodies. What motivates them? What keeps them from throwing in the towel and slouching on the couch eating bon-bons instead of sitting upright, eating a salad, or coming to class?
Researcher Kelly McGonigal reveals in her book The Willpower Instinct that to stay motivated it’s important to keep our eyes on the prize. When we suffer from doubt or lethargy, remind ourselves of why we’ve chosen a healthier path and how we feel when we take care of our body/mind. Shaming or blaming ourselves is useless, but staying aware of why we’ve chosen to live healthier and imagining the good that will come creates the incentive.
With ‘carrot’ in hand, I re-lengthen a little though the back of my neck. When walking, I shift my hips back and move my weight a bit more on the outsides of my feet. When standing, I shift my weight towards the heels and evenly between my two feet. I am reminded that befriending this loving body of mine feels good from my fingers to my toes.