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question for Julie

Posted by Pam S. on 11/06/03 at 16:54 (136584)

Dear Julie:
I believe you are the famous 'Julie' recommends the yoga stretches. They are terrific. I have a question about taking a yoga class. I would really like to take a level 1 class but I am concerned about doing this barefoot might make my TTS pain worse. I do alot of practice on my own with a book at home on my own yoga mat. I do believe my feet/ ankles are bit stronger after doing this for a while. Can yoga stregthen arches etc? Should I be concerned about complicating my pain doing a class barefoot during the standing poses? I look forward to your comments since you UNDERSTAND foot pain/issues and alot of instructors do not seem to. THANKS! Pam ps. I can do tree pose with foot up to my knee for about 30 seconds thou I have never really timed it. Impressive huh!!!!!!!

Re: question for Julie

wendyn on 11/06/03 at 22:57 (136614)

Pam, when my feet were really bad - I did yoga in my Birks. A good yoga instructor will probably be quite supportive of you wearing Birks if you need to (I think Julie has done this herself).

Re: question for Julie

Pam S. on 11/07/03 at 00:20 (136622)

Hi Wendyn:
Thx for answering - how in the world can you do those poses with Birks on! YOU are talented. It seems it would be so hard to rotate your foot etc. Birks do not agree with me and my 'tender tootsies' but maybe a soft gym shoe? Maybe Julie will guide us. pam

Re: response for Pam

Julie on 11/07/03 at 01:44 (136630)

Hi Pam

I'm glad you're interested in yoga, and if you find the right teacher and class I'm sure you'll find that it helps you in many ways. The problem for anyone with foot problems is finding the right teacher and class.

But you are right to be concerned about complicating your foot problems, and you'll have to look around for a suitable class. There are a number of different styles of yoga. Some of them focus very much on standing postures (Iyengar Yoga, which is popular in the States, is one of these). Some very strong and dynamic (Ashtanga Yoga, aka 'Power' Yoga) is one. Bikram Yoga, also popular in the States, is another. These would not be right for you. With the latter two, movement is done so quickly that you could easily hurt yourself (not just your feet) before you were aware of it.

You should be looking for a gentler class - perhaps Kripalu Yoga, if there is one near you. The form of yoga taught at the Ashram of Swami Satchidananda (I believe they call it Integral Yoga) would also be good.

The teacher is the most important element. You're lookng for one who understands about foot pain, or is at least open-minded about wearing shoes in class, because you should definitely not do standing poses barefoot (not at home, either). Before you join a class, speak to the teacher about your PF/TTS, tell him/her you can't stand barefoot and have to wear shoes. You will be able to judge from the response whether to try the class! A good teacher will understand and be sympathetic, and won't insist that you work barefoot.

Lace-up trainers with good cushioning and arch support (with your orthotics if you have them) are what you ought to wear - that goes for when you're practising on your own, too. This is what I did, and what I've advised my students who have PF to do. But your best solution is to limit standing work and focus on sitting postures and postures done in the supine (lying on the back) or prone (on the front) positions. Again - talk to the teacher and ask questions about the content of the lessons.

Wendy is right that while my PF was active I wore my Birks when I was teaching: I had to. I couldn't stand barefoot without a lot of pain, and I knew that I was making my PF worse - but lace-up shoes were out because it took too long to get in and out of them. Birks certainly aren't ideal, and I took them off (ouch!) to demonstrate anything I knew I wouldn't be stable in. Lace-up shoes are much much better - but I think Birks are the only shoes Wendy can wear and she had no other option.

Like anything else that involves physical activity, yoga can be dangerous if not taught and practised correctly - don't believe anyone who tells you 'you can't hurt yourself doing yoga'. You can, so choose your teacher carefully. But this ancient science/art works to bring about balance and harmony on all levels, physical, mental. emotional, spiritual, and if you take it up you will find your life changing in many good ways. Yes, it may be good for your feet, but you will also find that it helps you deal with your pain - and all the rest of life's challenges.

Sorry for this long post - I hope it's a help. And I'm glad you're doing and enjoying the foot exercises. Keep them up, whatever else you do.

All the best - let me know how you get on.


Re: response for Pam - PS

Julie on 11/07/03 at 02:43 (136637)

If you were my student I would advise you to avoid the Tree pose, and the other balancing poses that involve standing on one leg, because they put your ENTIRE body weight on your injured foot. (And they shouldn't be done on one side only, because that leaves you in an unbalanced state,)

I know you like the pose, and it IS impressive that you can hold it for 30 seconds, but it would really be better to leave it for when your foot has healed completely.

Re: response for Pam - PS

Pam S. on 11/07/03 at 12:16 (136694)

Dear Julie:
Thank you so much for your advice. There are so many yoga studios around me and I will call and speak to them before I go. I also have fibromyalgia and I find the stretching involved in yoga has helped me so much. BUT I just do my own little routine at home. I am pretty flexible so I feel like I am ready for a real 'class'. I would enjoy being around other women too. You are wise to caution me that I could get injured. I would be so eager to do it all I would probably injure myself. I did have a few private lessons once - just to make sure I learned the basics right. She did have me barefoot, however, and I was ok. We used two mats. I do have a soft lace up type walking shoe that is flexible I could use (maybe I did use them when I took those lessons. I have forgotten it was over a year ago.

Again, your guidance is warmly appreciated. pam ps if I can get this tape thing going maybe that would help too. Then could I do some of the standing poses? Tape and shoes?

Re: response for Pam - PS

Julie on 11/07/03 at 12:59 (136704)

It's good you have a lot of choice, Pam. and I hope you'll find a teacher and a class that are right for you. With shoes or tape plus shoes you might be all right doing standing poses, but I can't say: it depends on you. Listen to the messages your feet give you, and respect them. Anything that hurts is doing you no good.

Good luck.