Dear Yogi/ni friends,
A new year is upon us, a new term too and I suggest that we turn our focus to our foundations to help ground us for the year ahead. This January I ask you to consider one of the most physical foundations of our practice; Our feet.
Our feet are often highly underestimated. The feet in yoga are literally our stabilisers. They help us by being supple but strong, in balance yet also flexible.
Of course one of the most important exercises for the feet and the easiest, is walking around barefoot. If you watch a toddler learning to walk you will see their toes flexing in what seems like a random pattern; this is the body learning to balance. We get out of touch with foot to brain connections when we walk around in hard shoes, so when possible, walk barefoot.
In Hatha, Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga, If we align our feet accurately, our legs are then energised into alignment and from this into proper pelvic alignment ( mula Bandha ) and so on throughout our bodies. This can feel wonderful. When our feet are in alignment it can feel almost as if we are floating, particularly in mountain pose when we lift our toes and make sure that all four corners of each of our feet presses evenly into the earth. Like this, our bodies, even with our eyes shut, can feel still and tall with little effort at all.
Warming up the feet is always a good idea. One effective exercise for warming up the feet is to place a tennis ball under your foot pad and slowly roll the ball the length of the foot along each tendon while applying pressure.
It can also feel good to spread your toes completely apart, and then try to bend each toe independently of the others; simply trying to do this, whether or not we achieve it, is helpful. When in a standing posture it can also be useful to pick up your toes, spreading them completely apart, and then to place them back down which can create a lovely energy in the feet and legs.
As we progress in our practice we will notice that a well toned foot is one of the best tools for balancing and for promoting good body alignment.
Here’s to happy feet and happy practicing!
Classes start on Monday 07 January and continue to our half term break on 15th to 22nd February.