Let’s zoom in on our feet as if they were continents within a map. My intention is to be able to re-establish the connection of the feet with the rest of the body to which we pay so much attention.
In asana classes, in order to show this connection or disconnection, I ask the students to play for a while and talk to their feet, especially the toes. Many laugh or think it is something trivial, but then at the time of making a few movements everything changes. The exercise consists in antagonistically moving the big toes from the rest of the toes, that is, if the big toe goes forward the rest goes backwards and vice-versa. The brain seems to send the command but not all the toes move the way we want. Our habits, as the name implies, elaborate a fine motor in the movements and responses that we usually use, leaving aside others that are less useful to us. We must keep our brain nimble by giving it different commands, playing with it. For example, wash our teeth with the opposite hand. With practice we will achieve the same fine motor skills as with our more educated hand. Or wink one eye at a time, try to move our eyebrows one up and one down can be a challenge. Therefore it is healthy and very necessary to play with our body, activating the plasticity of the brain. In the same way we activate the brain when we feel present in the body, when the intention and focus are placed on inhabiting different parts of the body and the whole body at the same time.
When we are aware of its function our positions acquire greater stability and strength.
In class we repeatedly hear the phrase “activate your feet” or “root your feet”, this instruction helps us to bring awareness to the feet so that we maintain our footprint stable, balancing the weight of our body both at the points of support as in the arch, keeping the toes well stretched and in contact with the ground. It is as if the feet were fastened to the ground so firmly that roots began to come out, and together with the centre of the heels they found a way to anchor and give us stability.
Right now send your attention to your feet, focus on your right foot. Try to feel it … put your attention on your big toe and then walk on the other toes. Now move your attention to the arch … can you feel it? And now to your heel, to your ball-joints … discover the areas of your feet simply by taking your attention to them. Jump with your focus to the left foot and have a brief scan, is it stretched, bent, rigid, cold …?
Massage your feet whenever you can, it is free and stimulating. Also try to walk barefoot as much as you can … another free massage that only needs your desire to make it happen. The contact with the ground, the grass, the sand connects us with the earth, reconnects us to the earth.
Walking, not only involves putting one foot and then another on the floor, its movement affects our ankles, knees, hips, spine and head, so any imbalance that is generated in them affects all these parts of the body. For this reason it is very important to create awareness of our footprint both in our day to day lives and in our daily practice of Yoga.
Over time we will see how they open up and become stronger. The change that we see in them tells us of a change in many other aspects and mainly in those places that we left open to play and inhabit again as when children.
Therefore, do not forget to talk to the toes, the heel, the outer and inner edge, every cell of the body, because the whole body is waiting for the brain to activate, the air to travel and the consciousness to awaken.
Photographer@ Demian Adler