Around Monday or so, I was feeling a bit down about the Rolfing I’m going through; not because of our Rolfer, but I felt like I was failing my homework assignment: to pay attention to my feet.
The last couple of days have been a marked improvement. My walk may be slightly less lumbering (although I’m about to walk a mile or so to dinner, and we’ll see how that goes). But it is especially in the asana practice that I’ve noticed changes.
I’m not going to call them improvements. Not yet, anyway. But my feet and balance feel different, especially in two poses: Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana and Paschimottanasana.
Maybe a few of these impressions will prove helpful to someone:
- Utthita really shows you which muscles you’re using and aren’t. My Rolfing problem is I’m on my heel and on the outside of my feet when I stand, walk, live. In Utthita, when I begin to lose my balance, it seems always to be a tipping outward; my inward rotating muscles, which I’ve been told aren’t the strong side, aren’t. I have to really focus on it and get that foot planted.
- For me, as new agey as this might sound, visualization seems to work wonders. Utthita really provides this — I can conjure up the image / feeling of being on one foot and how and when I tip, tilt, wobble or just plain am not on the foot correctly.
- The funniest thing about Paschimottanasana is that it provides an opportunity to feel my feet are looser. On Tuesday, as I pulled back on the sides of my feet, they … well, they moved more than I remembered. So all the breaking up of my tight feet parts seems to be working. It’s also just weird, to feel your feet sort of spread out. OK, maybe that’s just weird for me.
- Paschimottanasana also is the pose where I “cycle” my feet the most; it’s a horizontal expression of my natural walk and stance. And so it is a chance to touch base on how my alignment is.
I’ve also been thinking about what one of our regular commenters wrote on an earlier Rolfing post. Michelle wrote:
You may notice that there is a subtle connection between mula bandha and a spot near the base of the big toe – Nancy Gilgoff said there’s an energy point there – a marma point – that is vital to connect to with the fingers; it helps your body open during the practice. (Hence all the big-toe grabbing with two fingers?!)
I’ve found that when I press out through the base of the big toe in postures – not just simply flexing the feet but actively “Flointing” (flexing and pointing) the foot, as my teacher Christine Hoar likes to call it – you engage mula bandha better, too. A good place to try this is in uttitha hasta padangustasana – “floint” the extended foot (flex then point, pushing out through the big toe ball, so that it looks like a Barbie foot – I can’t remember how Ken’s feet look, sorry.) Try this and and sense how the inner leg along the calf up through the inner thigh all the way to mula bandha gets more engaged, activated.
That’s proven very helpful as I’ve been practicing, and so I wanted to publicly say, “Thanks.” It is things I’ve heard, in various ways and at different times, but she timed it so well — and put it so succinctly — that it’s been invaluable these past few days. Although I’ll admit that “flointing” sounds like something I might have heard on “Sex and the City” or, to be a bit more current, “Girls.” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, to mix my TV show metaphors.)
Posted by Steve