Often in our practice we tend to focus on the larger muscle groups. They are easier to feel and control, and at first they may even provide more satisfaction. Our feet are often forgotten, we enclose them in shoes for hours every day to be ignored until they are in pain or discomfort. Our mindful awareness of our feet and ankles helps us establish a strong kinetic chain, enabling efficient transfer of energy and engagement throughout the lower body .
1. Grounding through the 4 corners of the feet:
The four corners of each foot are the ball mound of the big toe, ball mound of the little toe, inner heel, and outer heel. The feet are our foundation when standing and moving. They are responsible for supporting our entire body weight, maintaining balance, and facilitating movement. By consciously engaging through the 4 corners we can activate different muscles and structures, including the glutes and core.
2. Awakening the Glutes:
The gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus, are a powerful group responsible for hip mobility and stability. By consciously engaging the feet, we can awaken and integrate the glutes more effectively. In standing poses (or with feet in the air or up the wall ) focus on pouring steady weight- through each of the 4 corners one at a time. Observe the subtle shifts up each leg- into the glutes, hips and lower core.
3. BKS Iyengar: Ankle Stability and Quieting the Mind:
BKS Iyengar emphasized the importance of steady, rooted feet and ankles as a means to anchor the mind. The ankles provide a sense of stability and foundation for the entire body. When our ankles are firm and aligned it creates a ripple effect of stability that spirals upward into the root of the pelvis, the spine and upwards calming the mind.
4. Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 1.2: Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah:
Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah translates as Yoga is the cessation of the thought waves of the mind. The mental fluctuations or "chitta vrittis" can lead to stress, anxiety and a sense of disconnection. Through our practice, when we cultivate mindful awareness in our feet and ankles, we not only establish a stronger more integrated connection to our glutes and core, we learn to move our mind toward state of tranquility. We realize our true Self beyond the noise and limitations of the mind, aligned with our true essence.