I decided to try another class and signed up for restorative yoga, a class…more focused on meditation and appreciating our bodies in whatever stage or shape they might be.
When I began practicing yoga, I noticed the other students in my class would leave their sandals, socks, and sneakers in the front entranceway and walk barefoot across the room to get their mats to prepare for class, but I kept my socks on.
I was embarrassed by the sight of my toenails, some of them misshapen and discolored, especially my big toenails, which looked as if I’d painted them the color of phlegm. I had a serious case of nail fungus, so I refused to take off my socks, and each week I stepped on my mat and struggled to keep my feet from slipping as I went through the sequence of poses.
After the 8-week session came to an end, I decided to try another class and signed up for restorative yoga, a class with less emphasis on advanced poses and more focused on meditation and appreciating our bodies in whatever stage or shape they might be.
In our first class the teacher surprised me by asking us to massage our feet. For the first time since taking yoga classes I reluctantly removed my socks, afraid of what the other students might think when they saw my unsightly toes. But with my socks off, my feet felt free! I found myself no longer embarrassed but curious about how it might feel to touch the mat with bare soles, to walk across the room at the beginning of class and feel the soft carpet under my feet.
And when I gazed down at my bare feet—stopped to really look at them—I could feel a new sense of gratitude for them and wondered where they might take me next.
I sat on my mat and reached for my bare feet. I pushed the tips of my fingers between my toes, worked my palms from heel to arch, pressed my knuckles into the soles. I kneaded the skin. I caressed my toenails. For years I had stared with disdain at the discolored, embarrassing nails. Now I felt a shift, a change in my perspective.
In that moment, I felt a strong rush of gratitude for the toes that I could wiggle and bend and touch, for my two wonderful feet which let me stand in Tree Pose and balance as I walked across a room.
The following week I left my socks and sneakers in the front hall with everyone else’s sandals, shoes, and socks, and I crossed the room to get a mat as if I was walking barefoot across the beach. No longer did I feel embarrassed by the sight of my feet.
Thanks to my yoga practice, I had learned to stop comparing my feet to the feet of others. And when I gazed down at my bare feet—stopped to really look at them—I could feel a new sense of gratitude for them and wondered where they might take me next.
We invite you to share a story about yourself or another person, reflecting on the question: “How has gratefulness shifted a moment, an experience, or a lifetime?”
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