Posing Pretty with Stiletto Yoga

stilettoyogaHealer, practitioner and bodyrolling expert Yamuna Zake offers an unusual fitness class that you won’t find at any other yoga studio around: stiletto yoga. That’s right, as in Carrie Bradshaw Manolo Blahnik stilettos. Or Christian Louboutins – whatever your preference is, really. And what’s even more interesting is her claim that wearing stilettos while doing yoga will actually help with foot pain that many women acquire as a result of wearing high heels. But how is wearing heels while working out going to get rid of the pain? If anything, one would think that the pain would be ten times worse. But not so, according to Zake, and here’s why.

Just as one would go to the gym to strengthen certain body parts through repeated working out and strength training, Zake points out that by strengthening the muscles in one’s feet, legs and back, they will have proper posture and healthy foot function that will make wearing stilettos a lot easier (and less painful!) Her one-hour class starts out with simple exercises that work on separating the toes, shifting body weight between the balls of the foot and the heels, as well as just becoming more aware of how one’s feet move.

After the initial warm-up session, then come the tools: half spheres. The plain half spheres help with maintaining balance on the outer, middle and inner aspects of the feet and toes, along with learning to better understand posture and weight shifting. Then a second set of half spheres are introduced – these ones are squishy and have soft, rubber-like spikes on them. The focus with these is to be able to balance on one’s toes. Then come the stilettos: each participant takes turns walking down the “yoga runway” in their heels, practicing walking with their newfound knowledge about balance, posture and flexibility. Zake then helps each individual assess where their strengths and weaknesses are, as well as what they need to work on – whether it’s shifting weight properly or making an adjustment to their posture.

Zake told MailOnline that the feet get less aerobic attention than they deserve because “they have one third of the bones in your body, they have the incredible ability to move you forward and are one of the most important tools that someone can have.” In addition to decreasing the amount of pain that one experiences when wearing high heels, the stiletto yoga classes also strengthen feet and calf muscles, making them more flexible and toned. She would like for her classes to be offered in shoe salons/stores so that more women will actually be able to wear the expensive heels that they invest so much money in.

Her classes have become extremely popular and are priced between $25-$30 a session. For those who can’t make it to her New York-based studio in West Village, Zake also has a Foot Fitness DVD that comes with her spherical ball tools that one can easily do at home. The set retails for $65. Still not sold? Zake is standing proof that her classes work: at 59-years-old, she is still wearing heels without a problem. Who knows, maybe with enough practice you’ll even be able to jump right into Downward Facing Dog, heels and all (but keep an eye out for the safety factor, always). Namaste.

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