The integrity of a building’s foundation is critical for the stability of the structure. Your feet are the base of support, the FOUNDATION, for the hips, spine, and skull, your whole body, your HOUSE in which you live.
In an old house where a window on the top floor doesn’t open and close smoothly, or at all, may be because of a fault in the house’s foundation. So we can imagine that many alignment issues or pain in a hip or a shoulder can actually stem from the feet.
Whenever I have a new batch of yoga anatomy students and I begin to teach them about the feet I always say that one of my theories as to why yoga is so beneficial is that we do it barefoot.
Preaching to the choir of yogis here, you all know that yoga gives you the chance to have that sensory experience through the soles of the feet, but most people spend the majority of their lives walking around in ill-fitting shoes. Shoes that squeeze and distort the shape of the foot that nature intended. This, paired with how predictable we have made the terrain beneath our feet, i.e.: paved walkways, is a recipe for rigidity which can have devastating consequences throughout the body.
As humans, we have evolved to stand upright and the foot is the ONLY part of your body that has evolved specifically to having a relationship to the ground as its SOLE PURPOSE (pun intended). When we stand, when we walk, and when we do yoga, it is imperative to have awareness in the feet, so as to link your entire nervous system. When there is no information coming in (shoes, pavement, and lack of awareness), our feet mechanics degrade. We lose action in the intrinsic muscles going out and the feet get weak and/or rigid.
We have 206 bones in the body and 26 in each foot. That means one quarter (52) of our total bones (206) are below the ankle! With an additional 33 joints, 19 muscles, and 107 ligaments, imagine the myriad of movement capability that we should have in our feet.
In summary, the flexibility of the feet and ankles determine the stability and capability above—the feet are the FOUNDATION for the rest of the body. We need to be stable to be able. Cultivating stability and ability in your feet will translate into better hips, spine, shoulders and bodies. Correct the FOUNDATION of your HOUSE and your windows and doors with actuate easily.
Here is a link to a yoga practice to develop pliancy and fluency in the feet. I call it a foot vinyasa.
When you increase the range of motion in the feet and ankles, you will enjoy more freedom and less pain in the rest of the body. It may seem daunting or difficult at first. That’s just a sign that you should do it every day
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Wishing you all a year during which you put your best feet forward!
In 2020 consider being sure-footed, not heavy-handed!