Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ya Feets

When one of my younger cousins was born, my grandmother asked her brother how he liked his new sister. "She has no teeths," was his terse reply.  From that point on, it became a family tradition to call teeth "teeths" and, for some reason, feet became feets. And feets are something quite important. In, Health Before Beauty, I talked about the importance of pedicures seeing as the feet denote an area on which we spend a lot of time. But, in general, there aren't too many stretches in the cultural repertoire which can undo the damage we do to our feet. Fortunately, there are a few yoga poses which can help get us "back on our feet" in that regard. Enjoy!

 Standing Separate Head to Knee Pose: When I first began yoga, I noticed how my feets were stretched in ways they hadn't been before while realizing how much in need of a stretch they actually were. Just as my shoulders gained tension through the combination of stress and poor posture, I learned my feet had also built up a sense of tension... probably in their attempt to consistently remain in a pair of flimsy flip-flops. But as bad as flip-flops are for your feet, I couldn't imagine how my feet would feel in heels (basically, I couldn't imagine dressing like an adult). And while I've heard skepticism as to the existence of metal health issues or have seen such skepticism in the Senate health care bill, it's amazing that the first thing we seek to relax after a long day is our minds. But our feet deserve some love too. Below is a video of standing head to knee which will stretch (among other things) the top of ya feets.

To preform the pose...

1. Stand with your feet together and you arms clasped over your head.

2. Step your right foot out three feet to the side.

3. Pivot 90 degrees on your heels until your right foot is straight in front of you and your left foot is at a 45 degree angle.

4. Tuck your chin to your chest and bring your arms down to the floor.

5. Keep your forehead on your knee (you can bend your leg) and hold the pose for several seconds.

6. Gently come up and repeat on the other side. 

Starting off with a well-trained professional...

Fixed Firm Pose: Fixed firm is one of those poses I couldn't preform until well into my yoga tenure. Only recently have I been able to preform the pose with any amount of consistency. And this is because fixed firm stretches everything pretty deeply from your hips to your back. But if your want a real stretch in the tops of your feet/ankle region, fixed firm is the way to go. (Note: When preforming this pose or asana, one is told to ensure that the knees remain on the floor. While the rest of your body might hurt, teachers say your knees shouldn't be "screaming at you".)

To preform the pose...

1. Sit Japanese style (with your legs bent and your bum on your feet) and bring your legs out slightly so that your heels touch the sides of your hips. (Try not to walk your legs out too far as it will diminish the pose's intensity).

2. If you're able to get your bottom on the ground... place your hands on your feet and begin to lie down, placing your right elbow on the floor, then your left elbow and finally, the back of your head.

(Note: If you're able to reach this point, hold it for a few seconds and come back up. You're feet will be sufficiently stretched! The video and description below shows the whole posture for those who want to get an extra stretch in their back).

3. Bring your arms over your head and grab your elbows.

4. Arc your back and look down at your chest.

5. Come up and lay down as soon as possible. This will allow the blood to rush through your legs delivering benefits where needed. 

After working on the pose consistently, you realize it's impossible to take a good video of it and you shoot one right before
you publish your post without editing it (hence the sunglasses).

Awkward Pose: I'm inherently awkward which perhaps gives me a leg up in awkward pose (once joked my yoga instructor). While the top two poses work to stretch the top of your feet, the second part of awkward pose works to stretch the bottom of them. Standing tall on the toes, one bends the knees and lowers their bottom until it appears they're sitting in an invisible chair. While it's common for the legs to wobble, they'll also develop a fair amount of muscle from the pose.

To preform the pose...

1. Stand with your feet @ hip's width apart and bring your arms out straight in front of you.

2. Stand on your toes.

3. With your toes raised, sit down as if you were sitting in a chair. 

4. Hold the pose for several seconds (unless you get a leg cramp).

5. Straighten your legs and bring your heels down.

After awhile, you will be impressed by your ability to get your heels quite high off the ground.

Getting awkward.

So there you have it, a few way to stretch ya feets. And as you take care to relax the muscles and ligaments in the region, you'll find yourself taking care to make sure they're not tense throughout the day... eventually leading to a lessened need for stretching and more time for happy hour. ;)

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