Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Where Have I Been?

I have been creating a new blog (actually 2)...leading my first retreat in Costa Rica...preparing for a new radio show...signing a contract to publish a book...designing a new, dynamic program called "Ignite Your Life"...and continuing to expand my new company musélan.

My apologies for my lack of attention here! I have now combined my blogs to be in ONE place at Please join me there!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Grounding: Ground Your Feet

Continuing my series on grounding yourself physically. You already learned about what it means to be grounded and how to loosen up your feet more to allow for more spring in your step so you can receive and send out energy more effectively. Now, let’s look at placing the foot so you can feel more grounded.

If you haven’t already, I recommend beginning with the work from the previous post. The massage really opens up the feet to receive more energy and makes the next step more powerful.

Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Although Tadasana (Mountain Pose) is traditionally done with feet touching, it can be difficult to feel grounded with the feet together. There is a feeling of being off balance. So, for the purposes of this exercise, separate your feet about sit bone distance apart. Set your feet as close to parallel as you can without feeling torquing in your knees. Take a moment to feel your feet. We want to compare how they feel now versus once you have established the grounding.

We will start with your right foot. Lift the toes and stretch out the soles by walking the ball of your foot out slightly from your heal. You will only move maybe a millimeter, it is an important millimeter. Keeping the toes up, now find the inner edge of the ball of your big mound. Catch that spot on the mat, sticking it down on the mat and then broaden across the ball of your foot. With toes still lifted, stretch the toes out long and set them down one by one, lengthening them out.

Now feel the difference between your feet. My guess is the right one feels more grounded, heavier. Repeat to the left foot.

How do your feet feel now vs what you noticed before we began? I do set my feet mindfully each time I move into Tadasana. Of course, it doesn’t take very long, just a moment really, once you have done it awhile. Enjoy the grounding!

Next time we will move up the legs.

Groundedness Series:
Teaching Groundedness
Wake up Your Feet

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Feet: Wake Up Your Feet

Our feet are the most powerful part of our body for creating groundedness. If you aren’t using your feet well, you can’t be truly grounded. Or, said in a more positive way, the more effectively you use your feet, the more grounded you will feel in life! The more grounded you are, the more energetic and vibrant you will be, the more authentically you will show up in your life.

The foot has 26 bones, 31 joints, and 20 intrinsic muscles (meaning the muscles start and end in the foot and do not cross the ankle). The feet are meant to be used and to have fine movements to them. For most of us, though, our feet have become relatively rigid. (For reasons beyond the scope of this post!) When our feet are rigid, we walk like a car without shocks; we land hard on the ground rather than rebounding lightly. We don’t yield to the energy with the ground.

So, the first step to becoming more grounded is loosening up the feet to bring back the bounce in your step.

Before you begin, sit briefly in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Notice how your feet feel right now. It is illuminating to compare how they feel now versus after waking them up.

Step 1: Massage the Feet
  • Sit in Sukhasana (Easy, Cross-Legged Pose)
  • Hold your right foot with your right hand and lace the fingers of your left hand into your toes. If you can, lace all the way to the root of your fingers. (If your toes are particularly tight, just lace the tips of your fingers. The tips are smaller than the root of your fingers.)
  • Hold your arch strongly with your right hand to steady the foot.
  • Gently rotate your toes with your left hand. You are only rotating your toes, not the ankle so be sure your right hand is holding firmly.
  • Rotate a few times in one direction and then change direction.
  • Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose) and compare how your feet feel.
  • Now repeat the massage to the other foot.
Step 2: Stretch the Toes
  • Come to all fours. Tuck your toes under.
  • Slowly begin to sit back on your toes, stretching your toes and the soles of your feet. If you toes are very tight, this stretch can be intense. (My students accuse me of Yoga Torture with this one!) Just sit back as far as you can and still be able to breath and enjoy the stretch. You may be able to sit all the way on your heals.
  • Sit for 10 breaths then come out.
  • Return to Dandasana (Staff Pose) and compare how your feet feel. Ahhhh!
Next time we will learn to place the feet to be more grounded in Tadasana (Mountain Pose).

Groundedness Series:
Teaching Groundedness
Grounding: Grounding Your Feet

Teaching Groundedness

Help your students become more grounded this year. Remember, what you do on the mat is reflected in your life and vice versa. I am going to write a series of posts on becoming more grounded in the body, from the feet up. When we engage our body well, it will align and energy will flow more fluidly through it. When energy flows more fluidly, we feel more energetic and vibrant. We also feel stronger and more courageous both on the mat and off! Enjoy the series!

Groundedness Series:
Wake Up Your Feet
Grounding Your Feet

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Study in Cross-Legged, Seated Poses

I had a very interesting session in my Master Class recently. We spent an hour and a half comparing and contrasting easy, cross-legged poses. The three we studied were: Siddhasana, and Swastikasana.



We came up with some questions to further investigate these poses in our bodies. They are fun to take to class as well. Let me know what you discover:

• We tend to lean forward in these seated poses. How do you get on sit bones without gripping hip hinge?

• Sit for a long time:
o Can you get to psoas and release hip flexors?
o What does Mhula Bhanda do for you?

• In which pose are you most grounded?

• How does adding a lift under your sit bones help you? Hinder you? Can you release the hip joint without a lift?

• Here is a fabulous adjustment: Drop your tailbone to elongate your lower back. Helps you ground and releases tension in the lower back. Remember that you can drop your tailbone and keep the chest lifted. We also found the drop helped us engage the transverses abdominus (your core). (I felt a huge energy zing up my spine! Spectacular!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pose of the Month: Parsvottanasana

So, in my last post I mentioned that my yoga community (musasana) and I are studying Parsvottanasana this month. I decided to teach it in every class this month. I may use it as part of a flow series or teach a part of the pose. Last night in class I focused on the work of the legs, especially the back one. I find that back leg begins to "relax" as we move into the pose and then hold it. When the back leg lacks energy, the heart sinks and the energy of the pose is lost. Instead, keep the energy and strength in both legs equally throughout the pose. I use two variations to teach this idea.

1. Place the back heal at a wall so the student can press the heal to the wall to keep the back leg engaged.

2. This variation places the hands at the wall so the student can push into the wall to keep weight in the back leg. Have them face the wall and do a "wall push" (hands shoulder height, stepping the feet back to get about a 90-degree angle at the hips.) Then have them step the right foot forward a bit and the left foot back to put their feet in the position for the pose. Now they can reach for the wall and get really long in the body and press their weight into their back leg.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pose of the Month: Parsvottanasana

The pose of the month is Parsvottanasana (Stretch of the West). I am going to teach it in every class this month to challenge me to learn more of this pose!