what my flip flops taught me at wanderlust

After 8 hours of yoga and meditation with world-renowned teachers at Wanderlust Tahoe, I experienced one of the weekend’s most valuable lessons after class while trying to put flip flops on.

one foot in

We had just finished Baron Baptiste’s Foundations in Action class and the giant white tent was in transition with sweaty, blissful yogis gathering their belongings from the sidelines as a line of people waited to enter for the next class. I picked up my backpack and put my right foot into my sandal. A woman standing next to me gave me a strange look, and said: “Those are my sandals.” I looked down at the brown sandals that I had owned for about 2 years, that had travelled with me on adventures to Nicaragua and Croatia, that were worn in by my feet and gave me V-shaped tan lines.

“Um, no – these are my sandals.”

“My bag is right here,” she said, indicating to the ground at our feet.

“Well, my bag was right here, too,” I said. But I started to doubt myself. There were hundreds of yogis in our class and just as many pairs of footwear requiring feet.

both feet out

I took my foot out of the sandal, confused, and said, “Okay, I’ll look around for my sandals”. I don’t even know if I looked her in the eyes when I said this.

A few feet away I found an identical pair. I quickly slipped them on and started in the direction of my next class, without looking back. I felt embarrassed about my interaction with the woman and wanted to get away.

Immediately I knew that the sandals weren't mine. I looked down and saw over an inch of extra sandal after the edge of my heel. I kept walking.

foundations in action

One of the most foundational poses in yoga is Tadasana - Mountain Pose. This pose teaches us to stand tall with our feet firmly rooted and our shoulders back so that our hearts can be open. In the brief moment after the woman first spoke and my foot was still in my sandal, I had the choice to react one way or the other, and I chose the most familiar: I listened to that small, doubtful and irritating voice that says maybe I’m wrong. I lost my connection to the teachings of Tadasana that I had just moments before been thoroughly living and breathing on my yoga mat.

I wore those too-big flip flops for the remainder of the weekend: to the rest of my classes, up the mountain tram to High Camp, to the speakeasy called Can Yogis Save the World?, and on the airplane home as snow-tipped peaks loomed out of clouds below us. Their clumsiness were a constant reminder to me on one of my weekend's greatest lessons: speak your truth at all times, even if it’s uncomfortable or potentially embarrassing or makes your heart beat a little faster, and do it from a place of love.

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Absolutely beautifully written. Well said Alana!

Comment by Matt Corker — August 5, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

the thing of it is…..you got the too-large pair, not the too-small pair…..now that would hurt!!! so, perhaps that is a lesson for her, too.

Comment by fergo — August 6, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

Amazing. So true. So hard. I’m going to bookmark this post and remind myself of it.

Comment by Petra — August 8, 2012 @ 10:13 am


Comment by Alex — August 9, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

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