Yoga for the feet
“Carry your body, but please do not let your body carry you!
We must walk well, as animals do!
Lift one foot and move it forward, allowing the heel to make initial contact with the ground. Feel the weight of gravity in that foot. Let it spread towards your toes. Your other leg should remain open and extended at the back of the knee. When you move the second foot forward, transfer the weight of gravity from your first foot to your second.
This way of walking will help you re-establish order…”
Vanda Scaravelli on walking; Awakening the Spine
A personal inquiry
I recently experienced some problems with pain in my feet. I’ve been a runner since I can remember and have always been able to support myself through my feet, they’ve carried me through life and in many ways I have taken them for granted. Perhaps like so many of us, I have neglected my feet more than I should have. Not that I was upping my exercise routine, I have been running once or twice a week for over a decade, whilst also walking daily sometimes up to an hour, sometimes longer. I became aware of the arches of my feet and the tendons connecting to my toes becoming tender, over-used in some way. This decade of running on roads, trails or on hills comes after almost 15 years after the time where I spent at least 5 hours on a hard track running and racing throughout the year. Perhaps it’s no surprise then, that now in my 40’s my feet are starting to need some love!
During the winter the pain and discomfort in my feet was intense and so I decided to do something about it in order to be able to enjoy walking again and pain-free! I spoke with my osteopath, Jose and undertook some self-care measures which included daily foot strengthening rituals. Jose explained the main causes of something like plantar fasciatis (pain along the bottom of the foot, around your heel and arches) with the main culprits tight and weak calf muscles, followed by the next big muscle group up from there, the hamstrings. Along with this using an ice cold bottle of water to help with the inflammation across the feet was advised and some gentle, not deep, self-massage. I was also recommended to stop running and invest in some more supportive footwear.
I take my physical well-being very seriously and so have been following various self-care routines most days in order to keep my feet feeling happy and able to support me pain free. This means that as I write I haven’t been out running for over 6 weeks, until my first run a few days ago. I noticed that nearly all of my walking and running shoes are old and way over-due an up-haul, but investing in a new pair of cushioned, running trainers was a good place for me to start. The rest I will change over time.
This experience kick-started an inquiry into a series of short practices designed to explore 3 postures targeting a specific part of the body. The first being the feet.
The idea behind this series is for us to find for ourselves a greater connection to the major joint, muscle and soft tissue pathways, whilst feeling for ourselves what can support us and what can help us feel more at ease along the way. All of this taken with the support of the breath will create space for self-care and awareness, so that when you leave the practice and step away from your yoga mat or floor space, there is something there for you to remember; a new, healthy movement pattern.
When you take the first step into the rest of your day, maintain the level of self-care and awareness you have cultivated during your practice and feel steadier, lighter and freer throughout your entire being.
30 minute practice; 3 Yoga postures or shapes for the feet
When we explore postures in yoga we’re also exploring our unique physical shape and expression of form. In doing so we’re able to learn and explore new ways of connecting healthy movement patterns, whilst at the same time deepening our relationship to the breath and nurturing our self-awareness.
In this practice our inquiry is with the feet, guiding you through mindful, breath-aligned movement and stillness which will connect the feet and their pathways into the rest of the body.
This is the first in a series of shorter practices designed to explore 3 postures for help strengthen and support, mobilise and release major joint and muscle paths in the body.
Find space to move freely and have any props you may like to work with available for balancing such as a chair, table top or wall you can move towards if needed. I’d love to know how you find this practice so please do like and leave any comments as you go. Enjoy!
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Keep in touch and I look forward to reconnecting with you soon.