Unexpected Benefits of Yoga: My Stupid Feet

I was born with flat feet. I’ve never been overweight or a parachute jumper; they just suck. They’re long, flat, and poorly designed, and I have spent most of my life trying to find shoes that had sufficient arch support without making me look like I was born in 1922 and raised by Mary Poppins. I’ve spent most of my life looking as cute as I can up to my ankles and then just giving up in hopes that no one would look at my shoes. Until this year.

Obviously, I’m older than I’ve been during all the preceding years of orthopedic correctness—but I’m moving out of sensible shoes rather than into them. For the first time in my life I get to choose between a world o’ ballet flats and and an ocean of cute spike heels.

What happened? Surgery? Massive weight loss? I stole someone else’s DNA and made new feet?

Nope. I’ve been doing yoga on a near-daily basis for a couple of years now, that’s what happened. All those little muscles in the foot that I had no idea were there? They have a function, and when they’re strong enough, they can actually compensate for structural problems. Like the joke goes, maybe you just have shitty feet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prop them up with the kind of micro-strength building moments that are quietly stuffed into every yoga class.

Concurrent with getting my shit together psychologically and self-abuse-wise, I started doing yoga on an obsessively regular basis. In fact, if I am really pressed for time, very often I will skip cardio and strength in favor of my yoga program.

This is the kind of long-term thinking that DISASTER FITNESS is based around. Yes, I’m not going to burn all that many calories if I do yoga instead of intervals. I can hear people’s brains freaking out: But how am I gonna lose weight quickly if I prioritize a low calorie burn activity like yoga?!?! 

The answer is: because consistency.

Yeah, if I prioritize yoga, there are going to be days where I only burn a hundred calories. But I’m going to be able to get back to intervals when I do have the time. I can do it tomorrow, and the day after that, and on into the foreseeable future.

At my age, if I were doing all of this jumping around and body-weight-plus plyo and shit without a yoga program, I would be spending weeks on end getting no workouts at all as I rested up injuries.

I probably suffered from more overuse in my twenties than I do now, when my workout was generally getting shitfaced and then walking off the hangover (which could take up to ten miles). Well, I guess walking wasn’t the only thing I was overdoing. But I had to wear some serious old lady shoes. Now, for the first time in my life:

shoes 2
That might not seem that high to some of you, but for me, this feels like dressing up in grown-up clothes. In a good way.

The only thing that changed in my life between Danskos and spike heels was yoga. The annoying standing on one foot, the balance exercises… all the things about yoga that I tend to “resist” (to slip into yogaspeak) are giving me the ability to wear nosebleed shoes for the first time in my life.

This is one of the many reasons why—although yoga will never be a comprehensive exercise or workout program (and you’re kidding yourself if you think it can replace cardio)—yoga is one of the central pillars of Disaster Fitness. Do yoga for the sake of shoes, the avoidance of injury, and the fact that it will keep you from going to jail for murder.

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