I walk almost every day up a steep hill. My feet have to be intelligent enough to assume the spontaneous demands of a rocky, uneven ground while my eyes are looking out at the horizon in front of me.
In yoga poses where the feet are the roots for the rest of the body as in standing, balance, and backbends the subtle adjustments of the feet will gently change the alignment and action of the legs, pelvis and the spine.
Since busy people spend most of their time up in their head, figuring out this and that, the feet go unnoticed, and ignored. It may seem like a long distance down, but your feet are there regardless and those poor little feet have to carry and support this big tall body. We walk around dragging our feet rather then having the feet carry us as our guide. You can become aware enough as to let your feet be the protector and shock absorber for your spine.
Check this out…The human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and tendons. The 52 bones in your feet make up about 25 percent of all the bones in your body.
While we are busy cramming them into shoes we overlook the wonder and importance that the feet play in yoga asana.
Feet must yield constantly to the changes rippling through the body as an asana evolves. Your body is always moving into balance. Starting when you take your first step as a toddler you are seeking balance. Then the act of walking is a continuous search for balance. In my experience I have found that in many postures the balance starts at the feet. This is obviously true in standing and balance poses, but it is also true in floor backbends, twists, and some forward bends.
My favorite feet asana (to the dissatisfaction of some of my students) is squatting and sitting on the heels with the feet dorsa-flexed. I love the opening it brings to the toes and the stretch to the skin my feet.
I always tell my students to practice this every day and it will get easier. The yielding sole brings lively intelligence to the feet creating a continuity of energy moving from foot to head and head to feet.
My new favorite soleful pose:
Start in a classic primal squat with your feet and knees together. From this position simply bring your knees to the floor on a blanket and sit your rear back on to the Achilles/heels of your feet. Your feet are now in a dorsa-flexed position. Attempt to straighten your spine back along the line over your heels. This may take some practice to align your back over your heels since it requires flexibility of the joints of the toes. Stay in this position for as long as you can. To come out of it, turn your toes back so that the top of your feet are now on the floor and feel the relief in your feet as you enjoy the opening now in the top of both feet.
©shelley piser 2009