Saturday, February 28, 2009

Take Your Shoes Off

When was the last time you paid attention to your feet? Most of us tend to ignore them, taking for granted that they will carry us around all day. They might get a bit of pedicure pampering during sandal season, but for those of us in the north that's still a few months away. Your poor, neglected feet spend most of the day hidden in boots, never seeing the light, or shoved into narrow toe-squishing pumps or smelly sneakers. Your feet need some consideration.

It's the weekend. If you are hanging out at home, take your shoes off. Stand on the floor and look down at your feet. Can you spread your toes wide? Pick your toes up and see if you can put them down one-by-one, starting with your pinkie toes. Then look straight ahead, close your eyes, and stand tall. Try to be still. Notice if you sway from side to side, or in small circles. Try to push all four corners of your feet into the ground for more stability.

After a few minutes of standing, look down at your feet again. In an attempt to stand still, did you curl your toes to hold onto the floor?

If you take the time to notice what's going on with your feet, you can learn about your energetic body. The root chakra, Muladhara, is an energy center located at the base of your spine. Grounding energy flows from the root chakra through your feet, connecting you to the earth's stabilizing force. When we are grounded, we are present, secure, focused. When the connection to the earth is blocked, we end up "with our head in the clouds", unable to focus on the mundanities of life. Likewise, we can be too grounded, unable to move forward in life, afraid to take a risk.

What happened when you just stood on your feet? Did you feel insecure and wobbly? Did focusing on your feet bring up an unexpected emotion? Did you feel heavy, like all of your weight was in your ankles? Don't judge. I've yet to meet anyone who is perfectly balanced. Just be aware.

Now, back to our five-toed friends down there. Your feet need some love. A massage is nice - even nicer if you can find someone to massage your feet for you. Give your toes a stretch. Interlace the fingers of your right hand with the toes of your left foot. See if you can work your fingers all the way down to the base of your toes. It might not happen the first time. Don't forget to do the other foot too. Step on a tennis ball, and roll it around under your foot. Try a rolling pin to make it more intense.

If your feet are tired, soak them in some warm water with a few drops of peppermint oil. If they are tight, rub them with some lavendar lotion. If your feet feel heavy, like you're just dragging them along, spend some time in Salamba Sarvangasana or Viparita Karani, letting the energy flow up your legs.

Hopefully you're looking at your feet with new appreciation. Maybe they deserve a pre-season pedicure. Just make sure that hot red nail polish is dry before you shove your toes back in your boots.
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