Yoga for Heels

Yoga expert, Doreen Hing, has recently launched Plank Yoga, an intriguing, fashion forward yoga line offering everything from shag mats to yoga accessories for the devout yogi in everyone. Doreen also weighs in on the best types of yoga for beginners and a series of exercises that emphasises the practices that will allow you to survive in heels for extended periods of time.

What inspired you to create an eco-friendly, fashion forward yoga line? Seven years ago, I started practising yoga to compliment my fitness and fashion practices. At the time, I was not enamoured by yoga per say or the products that were available. As a trained shoe designer, I always look at design under a microscope and noticed there wasn’t much variety in yoga product styling. Thus, I set out on a mission to create a range of yoga products that inspire people, provoke thought, illicit humour and starts a different conversation about what yoga products and practice can be. I really wanted a line that everyone could enjoy and share. I want both beginners and serious regulars to experience the relevance to their practice and their life.

Do different types of yoga work to benefit different body types? In my experience, every body type can benefit from yoga. One of the huge benefits of yoga is to bring fluid, oxygen and nutrients to tight muscles and ligaments. By using yoga breathing techniques, your breath can expand into tight areas of the body, causing muscles to strengthen, relax and receive much needed nutrients and oxygen. No matter what your body type, it is not a far stretch of the imagination to know that relaxed, healthy muscles are a good thing for everybody.

There are different types of classes, and just like in fitness training, cross training your yoga practice is important. Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Bikram and power yoga are active styles of yoga or as I like to say, “class style”. These classes are great for combining cardio, strength and flexibility in one juicy class. Equally important are the educative styles of yoga that increase body awareness and give a deeper understanding of the purpose of the poses. These include: Hatha, Anusara and Iyengar yoga.

What type do you recommend for our beginners? Personally, I wish I had started out with an educative style like Iyengar. After taking Iyengar classes, the body awareness and insight into each pose, enables me get more out of my “doing style” yoga practices. With informative classes like Iyengar or Anusara, the learning curve is fast tracked. What would typically take me several weeks if I’m only practicing a flow style class, I would see results the next time I took to the mat. If you’re an A-Type personality, like me, you’ll jump into a Power Yoga or Bikram yoga class. However trust me, taking an educative class first will be more beneficial, in terms of less injury or increased optimum physical performance in all activities.

What are your tips for surviving a long day in heels? The body awareness my yoga practice has provided me with is the ability to listen to the conversation my body is having with my mind. With regards to wearing high heels, it is important to recognise how your body is aligned at all times and why pain is an issue, as a result, of your habitual body posture. There are three basic tools I use to wear high heels longer.

The first tool is what I call “Four Corners”. While you’re standing, shift your weight to all four corners of your foot so that it’s evenly distributed. It’s amazing the difference you will feel when applying this technique to tired feet. This not only distributes the weight evenly across the whole sole of the foot, but the more pressure applied, the more weight bearing pressure is drawn up the body and less in the feet. You literally become light on your feet.

The second technique is for the lower back. Most people naturally have a slight curve in their lower back that becomes exaggerated when wearing heels. The exaggerated curve condenses the back of the spine which becomes uncomfortable very quickly. Driving the sitting bones to the heels straightens the lower spine and strengthens the lower back muscles.

For the last technique, relax your shoulders and roll them down your back. Our sedentary life leads most people to roll their shoulders forwards and over time can create a hump in the upper back. Relaxing the shoulders back and down has an immediate effect of feeling lighter. What it actually does to the body is open the throat, chest and lungs and takes the weight off your shoulders.

I’m blown away every time how these three basic tools that improve my yoga poses also affect my everyday life. As such, I do really want people to understand how good posture is a choice and can be the difference to making you feel lighter on your feet at any given moment.

Personally, do you prefer flats or five inches? I am 5’1” so heels I definitely prefer heels in order to stand tall, strong and confident. Yoga techniques help people stand tall when barefoot. When using those techniques in heels, you can experience both physical and mindfully growth. The self-confidence that is reflected when standing tall is nurtured through the qualities of yoga and is a delight to witness. I love to be in the presence of any man or woman emitting style and grace.

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