Well alrighty then let’s get deeper into feet.
So the first blog post on everything afeet! (haha) left you hanging about feet and how you use them could determine how your spine develops, functions, deteriorates or thrives.
Sorry for the delay, our daughter had the flu (not just a bad cold) and was away from school for a long time, and shortly followed by school holidays! I digress … let’s get a handle on feet and all things foot-y.
Now I want you to do something for me (instructions in a mo). It’s going to require some really mindful specific attention!
- Get up and do a quick Half Moon side to side warm up. Just to limber up. Then go into the first side for 5 breaths. Nice deep ones where you can take your attention to how your body is aligning.
- Notice that little changes in your balance, in your pose will actually move your weight around your feet.[OK now may be a good time to stand up and just do a warm-up and get that baseline experience.]
You could be saying to yourself: “Well that’s obvious. Of course that’s going to happen.” Stick with me, pretty please.
Now notice that even though you could be in what looks like a pretty good pose that it may need a few tweaks. Now, if I could, I would be right there with you and tell you everything little tiny you need to fix. Hehe! But don’t worry, I will try to give you a deep experience of this even if you don’t know exactly what to track for in your own body – yet. After all, the subtle detail of hot yoga poses is my specialty and so I want to give you some landmarks to pay attention to no matter what your skill or experience!
And the detail of these poses is where the magic lies.
That’s why people love to delve deeper, come to me for those little things that make the huge differences. (Those amazing details are found free on the forum, and they’re also in my resources. I don’t want this to be a gratuitous plug for my own products but besides my many free products and information and free forum, you may want to have it all in one tidy highly detailed reference. If you hanker for a comprehensive all-in-one-place book then look at www.HotYogaMasterClass.com for the best darn Bikram and hot yoga reference on the planet. If you really are demon for even more details I have stuff that goes even deeper than the manual. Just get in touch with me if you want personal guidance.)
Let’s get back to where we were.
So you’re standing there stretching off to the side. Maybe you can feel a little tension in your neck, perhaps your chin is a little down, maybe your shoulders are a little tight, or maybe you just didn’t realise that foot-weighting has such a big effect. But in my experience there are certain groups of people who will benefit from the information in these blogs about feet. Those who:
- Do not do this pose well (knowingly or unknowingly!)
- Are just doing it to the best of their ability
- Who get the stock standard scripted instruction
- Need the detailed instruction that Hot Yoga Doctor teachers love to give
- Notice an ever-so-tiny-bit extra weighting in some or all toes.
Look, that last point sounds a tad silly …
Do you grip the floor with your tootsies?
… especially because way too many instructors ask you to grip the floor with your toes. Or they ask you to plant those toes down. That is naturally going to swing the weight forward somewhat.
That extra weighting happens because your body is intuitively trying to stop you from falling forward or sideways. Job well done, I say! I totally and completely understand that a lot of the effort you put into your poses by following the instructions to the best of your ability can often also make the difference between best practice and something that looks like it, but is not, a tiny matter of a few millimeters. No wonder there’s more to pose improvement than meets the eye.
Some more practical experimentation:
Here’s what I encourage: Get into the pose (and remember we’re talking Half Moon here). You’ll be noticing where the weight is in your feet. Feel the weight in your toes. Is there any? Hey even load the weight into your toes on purpose. Put as much weight in your toes as you can. These gross changes of how the body swings forward and the chin wants to drop and how the torso rotates towards the floor are very easy to detect. Now move the weight back to where it should be. Feel a general lift in parts of your body.
By the way, where the weight should be is back. You should be able lift the toes up off the floor, naturally with the roots of your toes and your heels down, and then you should be able to simply place your toes back down gently with absolutely no gripping the floor at all.
Notice I said “with absolutely no gripping the floor AT ALL”. That deserved a little emphasis!
Now let’s try that shifting of the weight again.
This time subtly and ever so slightly shift the weight forward towards the toes still without gripping the floor with them. When I say subtle, I mean that someone looking will probably not be able to see you shift. But check in very closely. Feel your pose and posture transform in a negative way, as the weight just moves. Notice how you can have the weight in different places on each foot. For example you can feel the weight behind the toes and in front of the arch on one foot, and the other you can feel the weight between the arch and the heel. The signs will not be gross. They’ll be subtle. Notice how your body experiences a movement forward either on one side or both (depending on where your weight is). Notice how your body feels less vibrant, and less energetically active.
That’s just a part of the picture. There is an enormous amount going on. When we look at just the weight then it’s a small disconnected part. However, you cannot isolate what’s happening in your feet from your body any more than you can isolate your head from your shoulders.
I mentioned last blog how the feet land on walking. How the weight is distributed from the moment your heels land, until the moment you push off from the ball of your big toe.
If you don’t walk that way then ‘things’ happen. I gave you one example that if you land on the heel and inner foot then you will walk ‘pigeon-toed’.
That information makes it easy for you to simply and quickly transform your birdlike walk (or someone else’s) simply by being conscious of the weighting on your feet. It will take some mindful practice and yes, some reminders but the habit will change from being a bad one to a great one.
Seriously awesome stuff. If you don’t believe me, then just get up now and walk. If you have never been pigeon-toed, then make the inside of your foot contact (instead of the outside). The power of mindfulness goes way beyond just being calm and trim!
Until the next time we meet, I want to leave you with some solid ideas to try out so that the learnings stick with you and help you make great changes!
- The poses are not just pretty shapes with struggle mixed in.
- They are pretty shapes with clear physiological intent with great challenge.
- The challenge is to listen to your body, and not just words.
- Take those words and move your body so that your poses make way more sense than they have before.
- Every little thing you do has an effect because of the connections of the feet into the floor and because the feet are a pathway to the rest of the body.
- You are not a body simply stacked up on top of feet. You are a complex arrangement of soft tissue pulleys that have incredibly subtle effects with every single degree of movement.
- Learn how to notice what each little movement does and make each movement count for improvement every class and every day.
- When you’re walking or standing still or just doing poses, WHERE PRECISELY you place your weight is NOT immediately obvious. The intricacies of what you do will surprise you and continue to create learning for you, forever.
Now that’s exciting!
See you next time when we tie all this ‘weighting’ stuff together! Plus I will reveal some detail about what kind of changes (including the bad ones) that happen because of non-mindful and even incorrect weighting.
Until very soon,