Love Your Feet.

Via on Sep 17, 2011

Today’s yoga class is all about feet, my instructor announced.

Great. Can I leave now? This is not the way I want to spend my yoga hour this morning.

People looking at my feet make me extremely uncomfortable. Which tends to be a problem when your job entails being barefoot and standing in front of large groups.

My feet are square, like Flinstone feet. The nailpolish is chipping off of most of my toes. The right foot is about an inch smaller than the left and both feet would be happy to ever fit in a size 5. I have to shop in the kids’ section, which makes it very difficult to find shoes that aren’t pink and covered in glitter, or that even have a substantial sole on them.  My feet roll out to the sides, or tend to want to and it’s led to a pretty dysfunctional gait, all hips swinging in the wind and locked knees.

My toes don’t spread, my flexion is impossible and I can barely balance at all on that right foot, the range of motion is so locked up.

But truth be told, by the end of class, I had remembered something, something big, something I tend to gloss over and forget.

My feet carried me forward into this yoga practice. It was because of them I found it at all, fell in love with it and nurtured a desire to teach others. You see, when I was born, my twin sister and I had horribly deformed feet. The achilles tendons were so short that my heels were up into my calves. The entire foot was curled under as though they had been wrapped tightly in linen during our gestation. The doctors had originally suggested amputating them completely.

It was my mother who sought out Shriner’s Hospital in San Francisco and there that our years-long journey through therapies, casts and surgeries commenced. I have had over a dozen surgeries, lived in wheelchairs, crutches. I was ridiculed terribly as a child, called “baby feet” and worse.

But the hospital was an amazing place to grow up. It was fun. There were so many other kids there with worse problems; burns, scoliosis so bad their spines were shaped like writhing serpents, kids without hands or feet or arms or legs. And we caroused around those halls in our wheelchairs, mowing down nurses like some deranged band of misfits. We drew, played games, even met celebrities once in a while. I loved that place and everyone in it.

Us in casts, with my older sister in between

Kids are amazing, they really are. I didn’t know any different life than the one I had. My parents and family will tell a different, more difficult story from their own perspectives, but for me? Growing up a crippled child was awesome. Mostly.

By the time I was 18, my feet were mostly functional. Bones had fused and the feet had stopped growing due to the many surgeries. But they worked.  I was even athletic in school.

And so here we are. In this class, focusing on the feet. And there’s a moment where the instructor says Be grateful for your feet. They carry you forward your whole life.

And I? I have the most thanks to give of all.

About Candice Garrett

Candice Garrett is a yoga teacher, writer, foodie and mother of three from Monterey, California. She is author of "Prenatal Yoga: Finding Movement in Fullness," assistant to Female Pelvic Floor Goddess Leslie Howard and director of the Nine Moons Prenatal Yoga teacher training program. Candice teaches yoga, prenatal yoga and pelvic health with workshops nationally. You can find her teaching schedule at Candice Garrett Yoga or her love of food at The Yogic Kitchen

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12 Responses to “Love Your Feet.”

  1. Nancy says:

    I had a boyfriend in high school who was born without toes. He claimed that it was better to have that solid, smooth surface at the front of his foot because he could never stub his toes! If he stubbed his foot, it didn't really hurt. He was also born without normal fingers on one hand and one leg was shorter than the other. He was a brown belt in Judo, and now he's a well-known judge in a big city. I guess things are what you make them.

  2. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Candice, thank you so much for sharing this!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  3. Emily Perry says:

    Thank you for sharing your story with us Candice! I am feeling such gratitude today… just think where we would be if we never found yoga… xo

  4. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  5. Rebecca says:

    So nice to read a story about a real person with a real body and a real life! One of my favorite teachers was born with a neck issue. My opinion- the best teachers have imperfect bodies!

  6. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  7. laylar says:

    Wow Candice. You are so right. I had no idea you had any issues with your feet what so ever. As someone who also grew up in and out of the hospital. I can relate. I also had no concept of my own condition(s), just those who had it off worse than I. As a child you tend to see your own hardship(s) as an event that is temporary and tend to remember all the interesting things around that experience. As kids, we tend to be less- self absorbed, self conscious and vain. We don't realize if we are "fat", "ugly", or "weird". We just are. We just constantly experience and grow. I loved how you havr/ brought out the reality of remembering who we are, where we have come from, and appreciating what we individually have/ So often we forget to stop and appreciate our path and how it has made us what we are today. As always Candace, you have reminded us of all the things we tend to forget and all the things that we need to hear. Thanks you!~

  8. [...] And I? I have the most thanks to give of all. (Full Article) [...]

  9. [...] of those things even raise eyebrows anymore, but if you really want a reaction all you have to do go into town without shoes. That will get you all the attention you could ever want and maybe [...]

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