In my yoga classes this week I’ve explored the alignment of the feet and how it affects everything, including how deeply we are able to breathe. Even though they are our connection with the Earth and the foundation for our knees and hips, we tend to neglect them. When we bring awareness to the feet, to spreading the toes, to grounding all four corners and lifting the inner and outer arches, to spreading our weight evenly, we start feeling our shins engage, our inner thighs engage and the balance goes all the way up to our diaphragm helping us to breathe more fully. This may be difficult for you to believe as you sit and read this – it’s much easier for me demonstrate when you are in yoga class and able to move around. However, you can do a little experiment at home.
Stand nice and tall with your feet parallel, sits bones distance apart. Make sure you’re weight is distributed evenly through both feet. Take a deep breath in and out. Then shift the weight into your heels and take a deep breath in and out. Shift the weight into the balls of your feet and take a deep breath. Finally, shift your weight back to the center and take a deep breath. You may notice that when your weight is shifted back or forward that you are unable to take a full deep breath – not like you can when your weight is centered. Pretty cool!
The reason I bring this up right now is that grounding and breathing deeply are very good self care tools for the Holiday Season. Perhaps you are a person who loves the Holidays and are buzzing with excitement and joy. That’s wonderful! Sometimes that excitement and busyness can feel like a whirlwind and stopping, just for a moment, bringing awareness to your feet and taking a deep breath can invite calm and steadiness into your day.
On the other hand, perhaps you are someone who is going through a rough time and the Holidays don’t feel so jolly. You may feel weighed down by emotionsor even feelings of depression. That’s OK because your feelings are valid. If that’s the case then bringing energy to your grounding can feel dynamic and uplifting. You may want to take a moment – several moments – to stand barefoot on the floor with your feet sits bones distance apart and parallel. Lift your toes and spread them and then put them back on the floor spread apart. Ground your outer heels and your big toes at the same time and then your inner heels and your little toes. Bring attention to both your inner and outer arches and lift them gently (even if they don’t move a lot keep the intention). It will feel like you’re gripping the floor with your feet. This will energize your feet, shins and inner thighs. Take a breath and take your arms up toward the ceiling and as you exhale take your arms back down by your sides. Repeat this as many times as needed.
In addition to aligning the rest of the body and helping us to breathe more deeply, the feet also invite us to reflect on what we are creating in our lives with every step we take. Leave No Trace ethics ask us to ‘leave only footprints.’ What kind of footprints are you leaving as you walk the Earth? In this Holiday Season I encourage you to leave footprints of compassion, kindness and love for yourself and for others. When we do this we spread joy and peace. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Holiday and we look forward to seeing you on the water in 2018!
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