You arrived flat-footed, without arches, a preference for being bare, to feel the earth on the sole. Translating to yoga practice years later, when I found you, feet, my foundation, my starting point. I have squeezed you into 4” stilettos, walked city blocks in slanted wedges, forcing my feet into odd shapes like that of foot binding. (Still can’t give up those heels.) Danced all night on the balls of my feet (starting at 15 except chuck taylors were my preference then), only to feel plantar fascia bind like glue seizing into a taught rope. (Yet, I still will dance all night.) Then at 6 am, I promise to stretch you. Open all the points of my body in activating you.
You have walked 32-years flat, and now as I feel the long awaited arch happen, I know your importance. You are the gateway, the ground of the first chakra, connecting to all points of the body, a portal sits at the center…and from here we can rise, from here we can dance, and align our beings to be in gravity.
I’ve worked my way down to you feet, to feel the ground again. It happened as I began to lift my arches, to lift my toes, to begin to use my feet, and make them strong. It was my teacher Timo who said, “lift your toes”, and I thought, “hmmm, okay, I can do this.” Little did I know the difficulty of lifting ones’ toes in every standing pose. From there, transformation happened, not just in the physical sense, as this is not what it is about.
The feet our are dharma, we can learn so much from the feet. If they are tight in one particular area of the foot, chances are we have a blockage somewhere in the body. My feet have been so tight and albeit weak, which has led to tightness in my breathing, and a sign that my parasympathetic nervous system has been compromised. Also, the left center of my foot is tight and sore on both feet. This relates to the kidneys, and my kidney qi is depleted from various life circumstances, and I have had lower left back pain for some time off and on. When, my kidney started to detox this exact spot of my foot began to ache as it released. If I practice broken toe pose each day, and lift my toes during self-practice grounding into the big toe mound and heels, I can open other areas of my body.
From re-starting at the feet, I began to breathe again in a way that was expansive. My left kidney released a little more. Rising into sirasana came with less effort, as I extended my pinky toe and used my feet. And, I felt deeper openings and strength in my core. More importantly, I felt more in my body and grounded. Today, my feet are my dharma, and they have taught me to be in my body, when so I often I flit in vata-dragonfly land.
It’s where it’s at-the feet-we work from the feet up. It’s where we start as Reiki practitioners, we ground from the feet before we begin to open and heal the other chakras. And, even the fashion junkie I can be starts her outfits with her shoes first.
- Broken toe pose: (also helpful for runners and athletes) Start on all fours (table pose), curl your toes under extending your toes, then slowly lowering your hips toward the lifted heels, rest onto your heels and mounds of your feet. You will feel your feet do a super stretch. You can put a blanket between the knees if you feel pressure or pain in your knees.
- Virasana or Vajrasana; this will help to strengthen the foot and loosen plantar fascia
- Lift your toes in all standing asanas on both feet, especially Virabhadrasana series and Prasarita Padottanasana
- Supta Padangusthasana Series-use a strap around the big toe mound and pushing into the strap with the big toe mound creates resistance and activates the foot
- The breath starts at the feet. Think of your breath starting here and bringing your breath into your body from the ground up through the chakras. (Realizing and then practicing this has made a difference for me.)
- Activate the foot through the four corners of the foot, base of big toe, base of pinky toe, inner heel and outer heel…I like to see my pinky toe activated. It’s amazing what happens when we activate the pinky toe. Who knew it could be so powerful.
- Ground into the heels in standing poses, you can feel this by lifting your toes.
- Let the bones be heavy by grounding into them.