The Importance of Feet Foundation in Yoga Postures
The foundation of all asana is the spine – but for today’s discussion, we will shift to consider the feet as the foundation of asana.
How will you teach any asana – from the spine out or the ground up? This is one the many cornerstones of Marianne Wells Yoga School.
Standing postures begin with the solid foundation of the feet. Teachers often say cues like “ground into the earth” or “activate your feet” – but what does this really mean, and, how exactly do we do this?
For today’s lesson, let’s practice awareness with our own feet. How we walk, run, step. What type of shoes we wear. Tune into our toes, arches, heels. Revisit past injuries, and current conditions. In other words, really become familiar with our own two feet. This is our foundation for our feet.
Awareness is the first step in being a great yoga teacher, and for those who will not be teaching, awareness is the first step towards being peacefully present within your heart, your mind, your life.
After tuning into your own two feet for a few days, would you consider your feet, tight, weak, active, or passive?
The first pose I teach is Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Together as a group we assess each other’s feet all the way up to our heads. We are standing for quite a while, and the condition of both feet and minds are revealed through this process.
My teacher, BKS Iyengar, taught, “all postures are both Tadasana and Savasana” beautiful words and wise teachings, but how exactly do we develop ease in action?
Once again we find ourselves pondering the word “awareness” For the next few days keep your awareness on your feet. Notice your stance, gait, balance, any pains, etc.
Asanas taught well lead to the process of awakening. Awakening, along with acceptance and a willingness to change, lead to the serenity of living the yoga life.
Understanding anatomy leads to wise cueing. Wise cueing leads to your clients truly experiencing postures, and this leads to job security.
Let’s Begin / Let’s Tune In … How to Practice Foot Yoga
1. Active Feet.
It is through the upward motion of the toes and the downward action of the big toe mound that we create active feet, and build our foot foundation. In any type of movement, the majority of information coming into our brains comes from the feet. When our feet are compromised with conditions like falling arches, we need to activate our arches through lifting our toes, and in doing this lifting our arches. This not only feels so good, it helps to create a strong, stable, and balanced base.
“Notice as the toes rise the big toe mound grounds, let’s do this again, relax your toes, notice as the big toe mound grounds, your arches rise” ~ Marianne Wells
2. Triangle of Support.
Tuning into the body weight entering the foot at the heel, gives us the opportunity to create the most stable base through the actual anatomy of the body. The solidness will not only be felt all the way up through the inner legs, supporting the base of the pelvis, with smart cueing, it will also be felt into the base of each foot. Many yoga classes begin with Mountain Pose for good reason. Your foot foundation is very important. Tuning in to our feet brings a sense of equilibrium grounding us into the present.
“As we bring our awareness, to the weight of our body entering our feet at our heals, let’s raise our toes, feeling this weight move up towards the front of our feet” ~ Marianne Wells
3. Toe Stretches.
Women know that feeling of taking a bra off at the end of the day. What about our feet? Our feet crave that barefoot movement of walking on natural, uneven, and various texture surfaces. As with all the other body parts, it’s important to stretch both the top and sole of our feet. Make Dukkah pose and foot massages a part of everyday life.
In every class I teach I give what I call “yoga homework” Just a little seed planting, a nugget of what to do daily to stay consistent in health and healing. I talk about this in my article “Teach People Not Postures” that’s also worth a read.
I’ve taught yoga for over three decades, and in all these years one thing has remained the same, people come to yoga for stress reduction. Yoga helps us cope with the everyday stressors of life.
Now that summer is here practice being barefoot more – especially outdoors. Expand your toes and your life. Develop a greater sensitivity to nature’s textures.
Increasing your everyday awareness is key to improving your practice and your life. And of course keeping proper posture.
A solid foundation can transform your yoga practice.