November 30, 2010

The Well-Heeled Guru wears high heels for longer, thanks to yoga…

To High Heel or not to High Heel...

The Well-Heeled Guru, High Heels + Yoga, never the twain shall meet. 5 mins of your time and all will be revealed…

This is the story that recounts how the Well-Heeled Guru brings together her passions, High Heels + Yoga. Wholly Shit, what will she think of next. Since the dawn of blogging, everyone is a Guru these days. Per HealthandYoga.com’s article, What is a Guru, I have learnt that, since I am self appointed, not trained by another ‘true’ guru for the job, or that I am, not totally humble, I am, thus, ineligible to be called a ‘Guru’. However, for the sake of creative license + for you to Get what I do, with the least use of bandwidth, I happen to know a lot more about high heeled shoes and their wearing, and have probably investigated seriously, how to fit a yoga practice into a busy schedule, more than most. So for the sake of argument, The Well-Heeled Guru, I am…

How does the Well-Heeled Guru know a lot more about shoes than most…

  1. Age 14 Designed my 1st shoe with intention, taking a shoe ‘design’ to a store and requesting the specific look.
  2. Age 22 Finished college with a BA in Fashion Design, specialisation in Footwear Design
  3. Age 23-28 Moved to Paris, struggling shoe designer since I refused to pay my dues in Valence, centre of French shoe design & manufacturing.
  4. I ended up as a children’s shoe designer in Boston, MA. Admittedly, I wasn’t impressed by the brands that I had signed myself up to design, however I was paid well, got a green card, + learnt some insights on entrepreneurship. There, I developed some long term friendships + mentorships, although I pined for New York, Boston, is where I stayed…
  5. Within that time I married, had a couple of kids and came up with the idea of Plank whilst* wistfully daydreaming with my BBF, of how we would start a company together. One of the discussions planted a seed + as I hashed it out, I knew that I would be putting the lasts + heels in storage, to set up Plank, The Art on Yoga Mat.
  6. My shoe closet is quite well curated and even during the lean years of Plank, some of my shoes, (considered Vintage, dahling, in some circles) still stand me in good stead…

Why did the Well-Heeled Guru investigate fitting yoga into her busy life, more than most…

  1. USA, the country of extremes, was either all-out gym fitness vs. obesity, with a smattering in between. Believe it or not I had started a fitness regime in Paris, oui, oui, c’est vrai a Paris, I would do zeee Aerobics + zeee Step. After moving to the states, the US’s HUGE food portions gave me a body shock, which determined the Gym Rat, I would become…
  2. After Paris, the next 8 years, BC (Before Children), included many hours spent at the gym, undertaking double cardio, followed by strength training plus some basic stretching.
  3. Many celebrities have sworn by yoga, as part of their fitness regime, however it wasn’t until a friend introduced me to the low fuss + yoga nonsense style of Bikram Yoga, that I took Yoga on as part of my lifestyle.
  4. Bikram Yoga was definitely a great entry point, however my practice remained static and I researched other styles, initially falling in love with Hot Power Flow, care of Baron Baptiste. I loved that this practice appealed to my A type personality, where I received, cardio, strength, flexibility and some mindfulness all in one tidy little package. I liked its welcoming philosophy and as a result it opened more yoga doors for me.
  5. I now include, Kundalini for breath and meditation work, Iyengar & Anusara, for alignment + pose foundations and as a result, I NEVER get bored in any class, whatever the style or teacher. I have so many yoga tools in my Lululemon elastic belt that enables me to either use or receive tools and perspective for many life situations.
  6. As a Mother, Made from Scratch Enthusiast, Business Owner, Wellness Fanatic, more to feel good in clothes, but feeling good about myself is a great bonus, I try to fit an effective, active lifestyle into my busy life. With kids negotiating time for self is difficult, when other priorities loom, however through insight + insistence of my life coach, I forced myself to find the time. As a result, I have found lots of different ways to add a few minutes to myself, when there really aren’t any + researched a fair amount of yoga studios + styles to enable me to get the most bang for my buck… As a yoga consumer, as with any consumable it has to be beneficial for me to come back + want to share.

Oneness, one of many issues that can prevent folks from Getting Yoga…

In class the instructor may advise us, to ‘Be Yoga’, or ‘Be in Union’, initially, I used to want to stick a finger down my throat when I would hear yoga babble, now those words have become white noise. As much as yoga speak drives me balmy, the intention is often pure + from my experience, the benefits of an uptake in a yoga practice seem endless:

  1. Few people enter yoga to ‘Be In Union’, well certainly not in my peer group, however something happens the more the mat is rolled out. I see a lot of noble, worthwhile causes that are the result as more people take to the mat, benefitting underserved or needy communities. Mindfulness by osmosis. GREAT.
  2. Also yoga tips for my personal wellbeing, to look at + manage life from the, now new, de-stressed and flexible person, of mind + body, I am becoming. ‘Being in Union’, albeit temporarily, when a mo’ fo’ cuts me + I take a deep Inhale… Exhale… Don’t Swear. So BRILLIANT.
  3. Being able to ‘live in the moment’ of an incessant, bantering child. Sooo FANTASTIC.

Truly, lots and lots of really great, undeniable benefits that I personally have received from taking up yoga, mindfulness, relaxed state of being, flexibility, etc… However, the main problem with many of yoga’s benefits is that they occur over time. If you’re anything like me, impatience is my downfall, fortunately there have been many instances of instant gratification that have occurred in class, which have enabled me to return often, to roll out my cheeky yoga mat again + again…

The Well-Heeled Guru suggests an audacious possibility, feeling the pain, a must, for some folks to Get Yoga

I am engineered as a product designer, to investigate and upgrade the customer’s experience, in this case, yoga services + consumables. The day I got, how beneficial yoga could be for me, was the day I, myself and I, was able to remove debilitating physical back pain, by applying tools from a yoga class, NO doc, NO meds required. All that long term, down the road benefit is wonderful, however for me, being in control of my own physical suffering, apart from answering one need, answered the immediate satisfaction requirement. The relief of pain was almost instantly, bodily freeing and completely mind + spirit, uplifting. (See future post)

I am sooo proud to discover, my ability to combine an insatiable love of shoes + heels with my yoga practice to enable me to showcase my foot attire for longer, whatever the heel height. The possibility appears almost incredulous, however after much wear testing on myself and peers, their testimonials are absolute. 5 minutes with me + my team of fave instructors, my mates + test group have felt the immediate and tangible benefits of having, the legs + feet to stand on, through to, the end of, any given day or night.

Being the Well-Heeled Guru, whenever + whether, I have a designer yoga mat or 5” heels underfoot, I apply yoga tools to support my legs and feet, high, low or somewhere in between.

When Plank AAPP’s, (Awareness+Application=Plank’s Perspective) are in effect, these are the possibilities that the Well-Heeled Guru consistently experiences + hopes that you will feel too…

  1. The ability to stand for, at least 1-2+hours, longer
  2. The ability to walk a couple of blocks further
  3. The ability to go up a notch in heel height, from a flattie to an incher or 3.5” to the skies the limit
  4. The ability to wear shoes that previously needed arch supports + ball pads, without suffering
  5. The ability to alleviate lower back pain, as a result of wearing high heels
  6. The ability to minimise the End-of-Night, Cowboy Hobble
  7. The ability to end the night on high note + foot, instead of bitching out my husband, your partner, bartender, taxi driver + some other lady who’s managed to maintain composure + maximum glam all night long… (WTF, no fair)
  8. Most importantly, the ability to walk tall and show off my most glorious expression of self for the longest possible time, i.e. providing my fancy foot attire more exposure for views + likes per minute, than previous Girl’s Nights Out (GNO)

I’m not saying that, I NO longer suffer from ball of foot ache or barking dogs at the end of the day, but I do have a selection of Plank AAPPs, real life solutions derived from yoga tools, that either endure or prolong my ability feel good about myself for longer periods of expected time. At first speed read, you may think, so frickin’ what, but put this into perspective of your life, I don’t know any bloke or gal who couldn’t do without 1 or 2 of these tools… Every time, I share Plank AAPPs for high heel wearing with, admittedly, mainly girlfriends, however the tools, work for blokes too, who have to be on their feet all day, guys + dolls alike, are dumbstruck + in awe of how these refined adjustments can add hours of staying power to their tired legs and feet.

I have never denied that I entered into yoga to improve my body image, see bio. However, I am still personally shocked and can’t help myself from hollering what YOGA PROVIDES FOR ME. I share this with a confidence and contentment of body image, that I didn’t dream possible unless I weighed 100lbs soaking wet. For me, at least, yoga has developed a confident expression of self that enables me to step up my quota of un-elitist fashion, glamour + fun.

Let me introduce you to the stars of this show, the Plank AAPPs. How yoga + heels go together like peanut butter and jam…

The Yoga Tools: The distinction being the Yoga tools or instruction used to improve, align, deepen + endure asanas/poses.

  1. Grounded feet: What it is
  • Activating all FOUR corners of the foot to the ground

2.   Grounded feet: What it does

  • Evens body weight + pressure distribution across whole foot
  • Engages the whole leg for secure pose foundations
  • Activates the balancing of opposing energies to create more lift in limbs & the body, i.e. the more you push energy into the ground with one leg, the free limb has the possibility to lift higher
3.  Directing sitting bones to heels

  • Straightens out lower spine
  • Engages + flattens lower abs

4.  Engaged Core

  • Foundation for balance
  • Straightens lower spine
  • Creates upper body lift
  • Corrects overall posture by straightening the whole spine

The Plank AAPPs: Real life solutions derived from yoga tools. Inspiration from Alignment Focused Yoga, like Anusara & Iyengar Yoga Styles.

  1. For long term high heel wearing, early awareness at the beginning + continuously throughout the day or start of evening is key.
  2. Application of Grounded Feet & Engaged Core, as used in poses, Mountain or Tadasana, create an upward physical lift of the body, alleviating overall pressure on feet.
  3. Application of Grounded Feet, engages the muscles of the legs, engaged muscles are not only absorbing the downward weight + pressure of the body, they are also burning calories
  4. Application of Grounding the Feet more into the ground, has the oxymoron effect of reducing more pressure from feet, the more the foot is EVENLY pressed into the ground.
  5. Application of directing sitting bones to the heels, realigns the plumb line of the spine proportionately to the heel height. This lessens the curvature in the lower spine and engages the muscles of the lower abs and around the lower spine.

WHG Tricks of the Trade:

  1. Plank AAPPs are yoga tools used outside of the yoga studio, the Well-Heeled Guru loves them not only for the immediate benefit they provide for High Heel Endurance Wearing but also for some extra calorie burning that is produced from muscle engagement, a fab, glam bonus, that anyone can appreciate.
  2. 5’1” + as a previous shoe designer, heels play an important role in the overall glamour + poise of The Well-Heeled Guru.
  3. Being constantly mindful + aware of the strength + alignment of the legs, core + feet will get me through the night all right…all night

For me, it really is about the awareness + application of the body to align or correct itself, through habit, new insight and awareness gained from a regular yoga practice. My practice has enabled me to feel occurrences within my body that I thought I had no control over. This lack of body control, is not true, it was simply was a lack of knowledge. Sceptical, perhaps, you maybe, however see the testimonials or check out one of my next High Heel Endurance Wearing workshops. Give me just 5 minutes of your time and start to feel the possibility of some extra standing room time. Perhaps those 5” Choo’s or Balenciaga’s, may no longer cramp your style or at the end of a long day on your feet, serving customers, you are able to simply smile, when asked to check the back room one more time. Yoga for Dummies, this is not, I’d say, it’s pretty smart to find multi functions for all your tools, inclusive of yoga tools, to apply to something that matters. What matters to the WHG is high heels + everyone Getting Yoga.

Get Yoga and get the heels your opening heart wants, not your head…

WHG, an expert in all things, shoes + heels + fitting yoga into a busy lifestyle…

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