The Feet
 
I remember as a beginning yoga student, my teacher telling me that Tadasana was the foundational position of all yoga asanas. I have to admit, I thought she was crazy. Then we moved into Vrksasana (Tree Pose) and into Garudasana (Eagle Pose) then into Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior 3). Since I was able to do each of these poses, her Tadasana teachings meant nothing to me. But I knew something was missing. My teacher would come by and tell me to “feel the rhythm of your Tadasana feet and a sense of softness and ease will balance your hardness.”  Still, for a long time I had no idea what she was talking about. Then just a few years ago, I got it. I began to understand the dynamic interplay between firmness and suppleness which together create the rhythm of the feet, the lightness in the standing pose, and the ease in the inversion.
 
Firmness and suppleness are often best described in images. In the feet, firmness is like a pyramid. Strong and stable, its inherent structure gives a sense of grounding. Suppleness is movement - a fluid rebounding effect that generates propulsion or shock absorption. Together, firmness and suppleness bring resiliency, the ability to bear the body’s weight while simultaneously feeling the energy of floor below.
 
Firmness: A closer look at the Pyramid
 
The pyramid of the foot begins at the talus, a bone that, from above, is shaped like a saddle. Nestled inside the saddle is the tibia. It is at this articulation that the foot receives the body’s weight.
 
From the talus, the foot spans out to 3 points which form the base of the pyramid. The first point, radiating backward and downward is the center of the calcaneus (the heel bone). The second point is at the head of the first metatarsal (the ball of the foot). The third point is at the head of the fifth metatarsal (the base of the pinky toe). See the picture below.


 
 
Suppleness: A closer look at the Arches of the Feet
 
Imagine you have just stepped out of the water and are standing on a wooden dock. You take a few steps and look behind. You see the imprint of your wet feet on the dry dock. If you have a “normal” foot, you won’t see the full bottom side of the foot in that watermark, instead you will only see the toes, the lateral edge of the foot, the ball of the foot, and the heel. These are the elements of the pyramid. What you don’t see are the elements of the arches.
 
There are 3 arches of the foot which together act as shock absorbers. They support the weight of the body when we are standing still in Tadasana and bring about propulsion when moving into Virabhadrasana 3. Two of the three arches originate at the calcaneus and run forward toward the toes. Because of their direction we call them “longitudinal” arches. The longitudinal arch that runs from the calcaneus to the head of the first metatarsal is the medial longitudinal arch; the longitudinal arch that runs from the calcaneus to the head of the 5th metatarsal is the lateral longitudinal arch. The third arch is the transverse arch which connects the two longitudinal arches at the forefoot.
 
Sustaining the Feet: The Muscles and Fascia
 
Sustenance is nourishment, and for the feet, sustenance comes from the muscles and fascia. When muscles and fascia lose their normal functional pattern, they can shift the mechanics of the feet entirely, causing and irritating all sorts of conditions from fallen arches, bunions, heel spurs, pronation, and supination. Muscles and fascia are essential elements to support the firmness and the suppleness the feet naturally have. 
 
In the next ezine, we’ll delve deeper into the key players that help support and sustain the contours and strength of the feet. Until then, take some time to explore your feet, feeling the 3 points, and the space between the points.  Are you holding your feet with hardness, or is the lift through the arch of the feet happening with effortless effort, with a sense of nourishing ease?
 
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Happy exploring….
 
 
Susi
 

yoga@functionalsynergy.com. They book is almost done, so keep your eye out for it. More sample drawings coming soon!
 

 

Susi Hately Aldous

Functional Synergy inc.
Yoga Therapy and
Yoga for the Desk Jockey Corporate program
functionalsynergy.com
 
Susi will be in Vancouver for an anatomy workshop:
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The next Vancouver workshopwith Susi is March 5,6,7

Vancouver, BC
To Register:
lclague@yahoo.com