What are your feet doing?

second-toe-bigger-big-toe_358fada6b3f18f15This is a question I ask often when I see idle feet, just lying around, not doing their part. I like to think that they know that I mean that yoga poses usually require the whole body get involved and even the tiniest body part has a role to play to bring about the “ease and steadiness” to the pose. Therefore, being more present in the pose will facilitate this ease and steadiness. Or. maybe, they just think that I am weird!

In my experience, yoga asana is more mental than physical. Whilst it is certainly possible to bend a knee without thinking too much about it, what makes yoga yoga is the fact that we pay attention, not to perfect the pose, but to observe and notice how it feels to be in the pose. The ultimate objective of asana is said to be to prepare the body to train the attention. Some would say that this should/can only be done in a sit-down meditation but I beg to differ, there is no reason why we shouldn’t train the attention to be more present in yoga asana and actually and sincerely mean to practice.

The following quote by Ray Long is an example of how our little big-toes go a long way to support our largest muscle, gluteus maximus:

… So how does the anatomy work? Muscles in your big 
toes support the ligaments 
and bones that make up 
your arches. Healthy arches 
(as opposed to fallen ones) 
act like shock absorbers, transmitting kinetic forces, or the forces of motion, up through the ankles to the knees and up the kinetic chain of the body, potentially causing issues with alignment, joint health, and muscle strength. For example, weak big-toe flexors, the muscles that bend the toe, may change the strength and effectiveness of your largest glute muscle, gluteus maximus. And the glute max is critical in supporting most poses. For the big-toe muscles to do their job well, protecting your body from impact and instability, they need to be dynamically stable, meaning they should respond to shifts in movement, weight, and balance. … * – Ray Long (M.D) full article

Big toes are important but other toes, too. So, next time instead of looking at the chipped  nail polish on your toes or trying to carry your weight with your hands in phalankasana, put your toes to work and observe how that feels. 🙂

Namaste,

e.

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Stress – II: How?

The first post of this series ends with the following sentence:

Once you have decided that the state of emergency and alarm is not something that you want to live with, there are things that you can to manage and take your stress reaction under control. This begins from within, because the only thing that we can ever truly control is how we react to a situation or a person, and how we behave and in turn how we feel about it. All other things in life are beyond our control to varying degrees.

relaxed_kittenThis is a very useful way of seeing things, and potentially everything in life. It is neither too dismissive of the world around us, nor too engaging that we get lost in it. I think it encourages us to carefully identify that fine border between ourselves (which we can control) and the rest of the world (which we cannot control). If stress is unmanaged for too long, this border gets blurred, and then we lose sight of what we can and cannot control in our lives. The longer we live like this, the more difficult it gets to undo our confusion and straighten things out.  Continue reading

What is ‘cool’?

I recently read an interview with someone who just came back from India*. The interview had a long account of the differences between the Yoga in India and the Yoga in the West. One of the differences mentioned was the habits to do with where people do yoga and what they wear whilst doing it. Needless to say, yogis in India do yoga whereever they like and in what ever they feel comfortable, in stark opposition to where we, in the West do yoga and in what we do yoga. Continue reading