One key principle, or Seed of Practice within the tradition of Hatha Yoga, is embodied Asana. Where the physical postures (Asana) are explored with an Awareness and mindfulness that connects us more deeply with ourselves. As well as moving the body, we feel into the body – noticing what is happening within, and exploring this with a sense of lightness and natural curiosity.
PUTTING DOWN ROOTS
Those of you who practice with me, will already know that I place great importance on the feet! Particularly in standing postures. Often neglected, our feet are designed to form a firm, stable base for the body when standing, balancing, walking and running. Yet, for most of us, we enclose them in shoes for much of the day, restricting their natural movement, and reducing their ability to support us fully.
Much like the roots of a plant, the feet are essential for connecting and grounding us to the earth. They are our physical foundation – in daily life, and, as importantly, when practicing Yoga.
SIMPLE AND SWEET
Walking barefoot inside or, preferably outside, is a sweet and simple practice! Feel the earth, grass or floor with every part of your foot. Spread the toes. Walk mindfully. Place each foot. Mindfully. Slow down! Be gently aware, bringing your attention to the soles of the feet – from the heels, right through to the toes. Exploring this simple practice slowly reconnects us to our body, and helps us find our ‘ground’.
Next time you’re standing somewhere – in a queue, or at the kitchen sink, just notice what your feet are doing (or not doing!). Have you unconsciously shifted your weight to one leg? Are you placing more weight on the inner edges of your feet – the big toe, ball and inner heel? Or the outer edges of the feet – the little toe and outer heel? Notice your posture when you are doing this. How are you ‘standing’?
Now. Consciously. Shift your weight evenly onto both feet. Spread the feet as much as you are able. Broaden each foot. Spread the toes. Feel every part of the soles of the feet (toes, balls, heels) connecting more deeply with the surface on which you stand. Imagine the feet growing roots and gently grounding you. Allow gravity to assist. Yield down through the feet, and feel the support of the floor, the earth. Notice, that in doing this, we begin to realign the whole body, from our foundations up. Don’t forget to breath! Smile, and enjoy!
These simple embodied awareness practices have made such a positive contribution to the way I ‘stand’. Improving my posture and natural alignment on a physical level, and also, gently ‘grounding’ myself mentally, and at times emotionally as well. As we re-awaken our feet, we begin to Awaken ourselves… Believe it or not, this is Yoga in action – grounded, simple and sweet!
With Love and Light
(Sweet images by Andrew. Taken this morning amongst the ‘babies’, down by the creek.)