MARCH 5, 2018
On our mats our feet offer us a foundation of stability. We press down to grow taller. There is often such a deep desire to expand higher, to reach out further, or to twist deeper that we end up sacrificing our roots. We forget to make adjustments and shifts from our base of support first. We forget the foundation. Our feet need to be the first place that we allow our attention and awareness to move to. When we leave our foundation behind we leave the pose behind and ultimately take away from expansion within the pose.
The human foot and ankle contain 26 bones, 33 joints (20 of which are actively articulated), and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Some pretty strong roots! Knowing how supported we are by our feet, we simply need to dive into awareness and feel the gift of our foundation, so that we can sink into grounding.
Take the time to explore your feet.
First, stand in tadasana or mountain posture, and close your eyes. This pose is done with your feet hip width distance apart. Stand comfortably. Rock forward onto your toes and feel your heels spring up and the weight shift fully forward. Now do the opposite and rock back onto your heels and let the toes release from the earth. Plant your feet back to centre and shift onto the outside edge of your feet. Now do the opposite again and shift onto the inside edge of your feet. Use this information to come back onto your feet fully and to root into all corners. Think about spreading your feet fully into the earth and sharing the weight with equanimity. Feel your base of support spreading.
Second, open your feet by practicing toe stands. Toe stands open our toes, our feet, and our ankles. By creating a deep release here we will cultivate more awareness, as well as a wider, stronger base of support. We wear shoes for a large portion of the day and so our toes are closely drawn together and our feet are constricted to fit the shoes. Toe stands help us to undo this. Begin by sitting on your heels with the feet together. Tuck the toes under and try to be on the balls of the feet, not the tippy-toes. Reach down and tuck the little toes under. Your hands can rest onto the earth or onto your thighs. If the pose becomes too challenging, stand up on the knees, relieving most of the pressure on the toe joints. When you feel you can handle it again, sit back down on the heels. If the knees are uncomfortable, place a blanket under them or roll your mat up. Hold the pose for 1 to 3 minutes. This pose is quite juicy for most of us! Come out slowly. Lean forward, lift your hips forward and release your feet. Sit on the shoelace side of your feet and let out a sweet exhale.
Third, when you are moving through your standing postures keep returning your awareness to your feet and to spreading your toes. There is a tendency to clutch or cling to our mat. It’s almost as if we are holding on to stand tall. When we grip or cling to our mat our foundation has left us and we compromise the ability to rise up from our roots. Notice, if you curl your toes to hold onto your mat. It is very common to do this in many of our standing postures, and especially in our balancing poses. Remember we do many things out of habit, patterns or imprints. To create change is first to notice. The moment you notice this happening, consciously let go of the need to hold on, and then spread your feet wide while releasing your toes back down to connection.
In order to find ourselves extending we need to be in deep connection with our base of support. The more we can find our feet, the higher we will extend, the farther we will reach, and the deeper we will twist.
Commit to practicing these 3 exercises over the next month and by giving your feet the attention they deserve, and by rooting deeply into the support they offer, you will find your practice deepen in all directions.
– Lisa Tierney
Tree of Life
“I am the immovable root of a tree I can’t see, whose trunk and branches extend up and out to an infinity of being,
whose leaves catch light and transform into energy. I feel the taproot running deep, sustaining me.
Without it, I couldn’t bend in the wind or stand through raging tempests.
It extends down and in, anchor and liberator, reaching back to the primordial sea of love,
connecting me with the unseen in all directions” – Danna Faulds