Yogi Toes

Who knew that yoga could be so painful on the feet?  You imagine all these pretty little yoga feet…equally shaped toes whose pink pads gracefully grip the rubber mat beneath them.  Toes that can spread to grotesque proportions when stimulated by the magical word, “grounded.”  Yogi toes in pretty little colors.  Rainbow-sherbet-ice-cream-colors.  Yogi toes with the “Om” symbol hand-painted on each perfect toenail with a tiny hair of Shiva himself, leftover from all that hair-wrenching, Virabhadra-creating fury, found in a drainpipe in India circa 1989 by a woman with henna tattoos spreading up her wrists.

My feet look like a slop-bucket on a pig farm.  True, I have all ten of my little piggies, but one doesn’t think of cute little pink piglets or Charlotte’s Web when gazing upon my feet, but rather the giant sow in the corner stall of the county fair; mud and shit and wiry tufts of hair form scabs across her mottled skin.   Like the toes of an MMFA fighter who forgot to wear his steel-toed boots to his day job at a construction site.   Suffice it safe to say that my feet are certainly not the nimble nambies of a Spiritual Warrior, but rather the tootsies of a warrior that got the shit beat out of him by some smiling cow-faced Hindu deity with a 10,000 year-old grudge and whole slew of super-powers.

What on Earth happened to make such a mess of my metatarsals, you ask?

It started out at the yoga studio, where the latest fad amongst hipsters and hippies alike is to drink beverages hot, cold or Vitamixed out of mason jars.  So in the teacher change-room I had something stuck to the bottom of my left foot.  Nothing painful, you see, more like a pebble or a piece of garbage.  But on calloused pads such as mine, distinguishing between a pebble and paper, or say, a piece of glass, might not be all that easy.  So, attempting to “scrape” the mysterious little pea off of the bottom of my foot, I dragged my left foot across the top of my right foot to dislodge the afore mentioned pebble and….GASH.  Mysterious pebble = square and sharp piece of broken mason jar = giant gouge on the top of my right foot.  (Because we hippies try to avoid plastic, y’hear?)

In normal circumstances, it being summertime and flip-flop season might not have made the healing process such a big deal in that area of the foot.  However, as a hot yoga instructor and practioner, EVERYTIME I sweep through from Chaturanga to Upward Facing Dog, I raked over the top of the gash in a sweaty, humid, hot-studio.  Spritzing it with Hydrogen Peroxide after each class caused such a frothing, bubbly affair that it might have made a rabid dog jealous.  The damn thing just wouldn’t heal.

And then, blame this one on me, but yoga teacher went out dancing in strappy high-heels, which later in the evening were traded for sensible flip-flops tucked neatly away in my purse, which then broke in an unfixable way, on the way, (by the way), to go eat poutine at three in the morning.  Strappy high-heels were then reapplied to already aching feet, only to strut with attitude to not-so-nearby friends’ house to drink wine until the sun came up.

You do the math.

Blisters.  Giant, bubbling stripes of blisters were branded across the tops of both big toes…and one across my left pinky toe, for good measure.  Just in case I might have forgotten what my strappy shoes looked like, the relief was imprinted on my toes in blisters.

So….now that’s a wound count that totals up four.  Two on my right foot if you count the glass-gash, and two on my left foot from night of dancing and debauchery in strappy, daring dirks.

It gets worse:

Running late for teaching a class, I ran out of the teacher change-room just as the door was swinging in on my left foot.  It swung shut on the pinky toe.  Of the left foot.  RIGHT IN THE EXACT SPOT of the already blistered pinky toe on my left foot.  The combined effect of all four blistered, sore, infected wounds had people gasping, retching, flailing and crying out Staph infection! Leprosy! Gangrene!  Better to just amputate the lot of them!!!

The funny thing is that I feel like my feet right now are a metaphor for my life:  gashed, calloused, bandaged, blistered, oozing…kind of just a mess.

I first had to contemplate death.  Coming home from my trip to Central America, an unexplained fifteen pounds heavier (beer o’clock?), four months of missed periods, a swollen, painful abdomen and no idea why, I spent the greater part of the month in doctor’s offices, being probed, poked, swabbed and scanned with no conclusive answers.  With my heart in my throat I awaited results.  I had to contemplate “worst-case-scenario” and “what if?”.  Apparently, for now, I will live, but the mystery remains unsolved.

Life is leaving me stranded without a roommate.  Already lonely and now living in an empty house.  The echo of the vacant room only reminds me, reiterates that I am A-L-O-N-E.  No person to share my home with, my bed with, my three loaves of banana bread with.  Life is offering me jobs.  Exciting jobs.  Travel opportunities and full-time work teaching yoga and holding them just out of reach….like a teasing, taunting sibling.

And I just don’t know what to make of it.  This sense that the Universe is working on you, working for you, but without a clear idea of what lessons you’re supposed to glean from it all.  This big ‘ol Universe is churning, belching and farting in my direction and I just can’t make sense of all this gas….this Universal hot air.

And yet, this is yoga.  I know that now.  It’s not about what bendy, pretzel shape you can twist your body into.  Yoga is the ability to assimilate the hand you are dealt with calm and grace.  To breathe through the twists and turns life throws at you.  As one of my teachers said, “Everything you do on your mat is a metaphor for your life.”

And so, I will continue to ground my mangled feet into my mat.  I will continue to sweep over the scabs into Upward Facing Dog and I will continue to breathe in deep the sweet smells of Universal flatulence, knowing and trusting that the wounds will heal, the stench will dissapate and any residual scars will only remind me that I am a strong, not-so-nimble-footed spiritual warrior.

Or maybe, that I should just chuck the strappy heels?                                                          …………Nah.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. risingontheroad
    Nov 26, 2011 @ 23:34:52

    Yow yow yowch!! Feeling for your feet. Feeling for you feeling alone since I feel very much the same right now but with just a little change of tone the emptiness starts to feel like a space for potentials and promises… and then it is much easier to sit with it.


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