Thursday morning, I realized that I had knots the size of baseballs on my shoulders. Big, honking vortices of twisted muscle. They hurt. I felt like the hunchback of Notre Dame.
So I dialed up our handy-dandy local massage college. This place is a Great Deal. You can get an hour-long massage for $30 (it used to be $25; they wised up, I guess). If you are an employee of Small Mountain University, you get five dollars off, an even better deal.
They actually teach these students well; I have never had a massage there that wasn't great. I don't know how they do it; perhaps they have lifelike mannikins to practice on? Or perhaps the instructors fall on their swords, as it were, offering their poor tortured bodies up For The Good of Mankind? However it works, towards the end of their program the students have to do practicums (practica?), and we, the residents of Small Mountain University Town, benefit.
Robby, almost done with his practicum and about to spread his wings as a fledgling massage therapist, did the deed for me yesterday. He spent half the time working on my left shoulder/back. My baseball-sized knots are now the size of ping-pong balls instead--they were very recalcitrant.
Then, he moved on to legs, arms, and neck. And I zoned out in a haze of bliss.
When he was done, and we were talking, I mentioned that I had to get back into yoga, because I could feel that the vertebrae he was pressing on just weren't moving at all--frozen up like rusty hinges. He allowed as to how he was sure I did yoga, because I had "yoga toes". He was enthused. He likes "yoga toes" because they're beautiful and interesting. (Goodness. I've never thought of my toes as "beautiful" or "interesting". My toe descriptor of choice is "gross".)
Well! This was the first I had heard of the phenomenon, so I had to come home and google it.
Apparently, the barefoot practice of yoga, and the focus on balance, grounding, stance, etc., produces broad feet and toes that spread apart with space between them, and this is well known amongst yoga practitioners.
The benefits are so great and sublime that there is now a toe stretching device called--wait for it--Yoga Toes. Though they look like incredibly silly things, sold only to incredibly silly people, apparently they are very helpful for people with bunions and people who do bad things to their feet, such as ballerinas, long-distance runners, and pointy-toed shoe wearers.
And, since there's such an emphasis on toes and suchlike in the yoga world, another attempt to capitalize on toe-ness is a product that I thought had died the death back in the late '70s: toe socks. Setting aside the fact that these are forever ingrained in my brain as a horrible fashion faux pas, I can't imagine wearing any sort of socks while doing yoga (except during savasana). It seems like an invitation to the Kozmik All to slip while doing a balance pose, and break your back--the antithesis of what yoga is supposed to be all about!
Unfortunately, I must 'fess up: my toes have always been "yoga toes". I have always had space between my toes, and always been able to spread them apart easily. Genetics get the credit (or blame).
But my rusty-hinge vertebrae and Robby's enthusiasm about my yoga toes has inspired me. Time to find out when my wonderful yoga instructor is having evening lessons again, and sign up. I may end up with feet like a Hobbit, but my body will thank me.
(My apologies to those who saw my unfinished post last night; MS LiveWriter has the icon for "publish post" sitting right on top of the icon for making a link, and my incomplete post made it into Blogger much before it was ready!)
(And here are some yoga pics, including "yoga toes".)