Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pada Ananda: Foot Love for Happy Feet

On Tuesday I taught a feet-themed yoga class. We spent a lot of time standing, with our eyes closed, while I nattered on trying to help my little chickadees feel their feet. Which is one of those things that sounds really simple, but it's like trying to feel the ring on your finger. Your brain has stopped interpreting that stimulus for you, because your lack of attention has taught your brain that the stimulus is not important.

We also spent some time trying to move our toes independently of each other. From an anatomical standpoint, this is 100% possible. The muscles, bones, and joints are all in place to allow you to do this. BUT, again, years and years of not doing it has taught your brain that those neural connections are a waste of space, and they've been dismantled. My students felt pretty silly making frowny faces at their feet as their toes stubbornly moved as a unit...but they weren't working in vain! They were teaching their brain that those neural connections are WANTED, and if they stick to it, their brain will rebuild them! Amazing, isn't it?

Ok, so being able to feel the floor with your feet can be worthwhile, and moving your toes independently of each other is sort of fun, but, ok, I'll give you something you can use.

Foot stretch! It's fun! It's easy! It's...well, for most of us it's painful. But don't worry; you can handle it. It's very simple.

Kneel on the floor.

Tuck your toes under.

Sit on your heels.

Aaaaaaaand...breathe!
Trust me, the more it hurts, the more you need it! And those of us with a fondness for flip flops really need it, myself included!

Start with just a couple of breaths, a couple times a day. Over time, it may be comfortable to hang out in this position while you read an article or check Facebook. You don't want to torture yourself, but you do want to let your feet open up. As it gets more bearable, try to make a point of staying in this position for a few minutes every day that you wear flip flops.

And that's it! That's all you're getting today! Because I'm crazy busy this month! Ok, fine, one last thing: your feet are awesome. They are so, so important. Love them, honor them, massage them, pamper them. Just pay attention to them! You won't be sorry. They have a lot to teach you.

Live Omily,
~em


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