At sweet 16 I was taller than my first boyfriend and my feet were “number nine.” Madly in love and desperate not to lose my surfer boy, I began slouching and cramming my feet into smaller and smaller shoes, eventually fitting into size 7 1/2. Willing to suffer blisters, calluses, and painful “Haglund’s deformity” at the back of my heels, nothing mattered except how cool my diminutive feet looked.
That memory fades into another snapshot of me sunbathing on my back in my bikini, feeling a sense of satisfaction that my hip bones were jutting two inches above my sunken brown belly.
Fast-forward a few years to early motherhood, and every trace of my natural childhood posture had vanished. My belly was still as flat as when I was a teenager on the beach, but my shoulders were now rounded, my chest sunken, and my head hanging in front of my body.
Shoe styles are even more restrictive today, and “sucked and tucked” posture is as ubiquitous among young women as it was in the 1970s.
Look inside any yoga or Pilates studio and you will find it filled with trim, fit women who, unbeknownst to them, are declining in ways that are sure to impact their hips, knees, feet, spine, and pelvic organ support system. Simply because they are trying to conform to a body shape that is unnatural and fundamentally unhealthy.
I was 50 years old when I started the Whole Woman work, and many times over the years have thanked my lucky stars that I’ve been able to prevent and reverse some of the most difficult chronic musculoskeletal disorders of our modern age. Having a sturdy body type and healthy lifestyle, I’ve grown used to a sense of protection bordering almost on the invincible.
I have been able to heal a significant knee injury, and many other minor aches and pains, simply by continuously “pulling up into WW posture”, as I’ve taught so many women over the years. I’ve even indulged in long winter evenings reading and writing in bed, knowing that by pulling up into the posture tomorrow, all will be well.
I am now two years shy of my 70th birthday, and need the Whole Woman work more than ever before. With the exception of chronic nerve pain that has also resolved (a whole other story), for the first time in my life I’ve developed a chronic, painful condition. Three guesses where? A bunion on my right big toe, which I’ve had since my teens, has suddenly become very prominent and painful. Every pair of shoes I own, with the exception of my running shoes and summer sandals, aggravates it. I had been trying to rehabilitate my feet for years, and it never occurred to me that my bunions would significantly worsen. I also have not been entirely disciplined about everything I put on my feet.
My adorable old Grandmother (a true earth mother), who died when I was sixteen, had terrible problems with her painful feet. Of course I thought about her immediately when I realized this bunion has become a signifiant problem.
So…what to do but become even more attentive to the Whole Woman work? It is absolutely fascinating to observe the pain completely subsiding as I spend my days in toe-separator socks, sitting on the floor until it’s time for bed, and ever mindful of WW posture. I have had to give up the wide, split-sole ballet shoes that I’ve worn Scottish Country Dancing for the past 30 years. Anything that pulls my big toe even slightly laterally, which includes all conventional socks, has had to be scrapped.
Here is my 5-year-old self. I’ve shared this photo several times because it just so happens to represent natural childhood posture better than anything I’ve been able to find on stock photo websites. I use it to emphasize the fact that we develop this posture during early childhood for a reason. Our natural posture is important! While we may grow more sleek as we age into sexual maturity, the basic dynamics of our structure should never change. The abdominal wall should always be pulled up, never in, until we take our final steps under the forces of gravity. While there has been a great awakening to the fact that the entire natural world is built upon sacred geometry, only at Whole Woman are those same geometric principles recognized as foundational to the human female form.
As we move into this new era of Whole Woman, I want to express how deeply grateful I am for all the women who have traveled this path with me. May we all live pain-free for the remainder of our days! I am profoundly grateful to our Creator, for bestowing upon us these truly magnificent vessels within which we commandeer our lives on this beautiful planet. It has been a wild ride!