"Vande gurunam caranaravinde" (I honor the lotus flower feet of all the Guru's)
- Opening line of the Ashtanga Opening Chant.
A new year is the perfect excuse to get right back to the beginning of things. That needn't mean taking a step backwards, rather, it is an opportunity reevaluate and shift your focus, get rid of last years junk leaving space to be filled with all sorts of wonderful new ideas.
This year, on Sarvanga's first birthday, I'm taking the opportunity to get right down into our roots, our foundations - our feet.
Our classes this week and over the next couple we're going to start right down in our toes, taking cues for our posture, balance and movement from right down low, allowing positive changes to be carried up through the legs, hips, spine, shoulders into our hearts and minds!
Our feet are our base, mobile foundations from which our bodies find support, structure and alignment. The instructions and care we give to our feet travels upwards to affect our whole bodies, so to find balance and stability we must begin here. For example, fallen arches can lead to tendonitis, bunions, shin splints and can cause pain through the legs, knees, hips, backs, necks and shoulders... Yet we often forget and neglect our feet then find ourselves wondering why we feel unbalanced, why perhaps we have aching backs, sore necks, headaches - all of these things can start in our feet yet we forget to look to them for answers, or care for them as a preventative measure.
So lets work from the ground up and get our feet right before we worry about the rest of it. In our classes we will be thinking about stretching our toes, resisiting the urge to grip, growing roots through our soles, lifting our arches - our "Pada Bandha"foot lock - and working with asana such as Samasthiti (meaning "Equal Standing"), Utkatasana, Virabhadrasana 1, 2 & 3, finding our balance in Tree and Eagle poses, and caring for our feet and ankles with Downward Dog, Childs Pose, Virasana, Supta Virasana and Malasana - plus lots more!
But why not carry on loving your feet off the mat? Ask yourself from time to time - "How are my feet, right now?", "How am I standing?" and take time to care for your feet - give yourself a mini-foot rub, or better yet, book yourself in for a foot massage or reflexology! Take gentle walks, lift your arches, wear comfortable, supportive shoes or try my favorite at ANY time of year - take off your shoes and socks and feel the Earth beneath your toes!
Be your own guru, honour your lotus flower feet!