I never really gave my feet a passing thought.
I have just taken them for granted, even with my father as a practicing podiatrist for nearly 40 years.
But yoga has changed that.
Now I know my feet are a precious commodity.
It is not that I have ever really ignored my feet.
I keep them pedicured as a matter of course. And I decorate them with two toe rings, both representing something important to me.
When my adult daughter was little, she briefly attended a private school and could not choose her wardrobe or wear jewelry.
On her last day, we bought a toe ring each, representing a sort of freedom of expression that she had not been able to enjoy.
We have worn them ever since. A decade later, from college, she mailed me a new toe ring, updating our freedom of expression and sending the message that she still knew to seek it.
A few years following, my son spent a college semester abroad in Australia.
Far from home and knowing no one, he settled in fast, making another home away from home.
During a visit with him, we stopped at an outdoor flea market where a jeweler fit me with a second toe ring. To me, it represented courage and an openness to new possibilities, both of which my son demonstrated by taking such a journey.
More recently, though, I realized my feet were not so much pretty as they were precious when I found myself standing on them for 12 hours straight for three days in a row, working in the wrong shoes.
Each evening, my feet cried with new blisters, and it actually hurt to walk. All I could think was that I would be out of commission for yoga.
On the first day of working like this, I wore beautiful new shoes.
They had a platform and did not seem to have too much of an incline, and I thought I would be fine.
It was not until about the sixth hour in them that I realized my new shoes had a time limit.
Another six hours, and I hobbled into the house after driving home barefoot.
The hour was late, but I still tried to pamper my feet before sleep.
All I could think was that I had two more days of working like this before returning to yoga, and I could not imagine doing so.
That night, my feet got the full spa treatment at home. I bathed them. I put cream on them. I rested them.
The next day, I lowered my fashion standards and changed up my shoes.
I put on what I considered not my best look, a more conservative pair of shoes with a lower heel.
Turns out, these shoes had a longer shelf life but still did not protect my feet from their fate.
I went home that night with new blisters.
Again, they got the full spa treatment.
Finally, on the last of these three days, I just slipped on my comfy, water-stained TOMS, a pair of shoes that have seen better days and are usually only reserved for trips to the yoga studio.
But on this day they went out in full form.
And that night my feet were sore but not too sad. And the next day I was pleased to realize they felt fine enough for morning yoga.
We take many, many steps through some lunges, Warrior I and Warrior II, Standing Split and Dancer, Chair Pose and Extended Side Angle, Reverse Side Angle and more. The rest of the practice takes place while seated, on our backs and on our stomachs.
I am sure there are other parts of me that I take for granted and probably should not. And even though yoga has taught me to appreciate my well-being on all levels, I had never really thought about how dependent I am on being physically able.
That morning before yoga, I awoke and swung my feet over the side of the bed.
The bed is tall, and I am not, and my feet do not reach the ground. My painted toes with their rings hung overboard briefly before I touched down with no pain.
That morning, I felt grateful for not only all the steps yoga has taught me, but also for the simple fact that I could take them.