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!)