Have you ever wondered whether you're doing a yoga pose safely and effectively?
Do you sometimes ponder about where you should be feeling a stretch or any sensation at all?
Have you ever looked across from your mat to see someone in class elegantly and effortlessly holding Lord of the Dance Pose, and wonder how they are finding so much stability in their standing leg?
Too often the basic foundation of an activity, skill or instruction is overlooked as we impatiently search for an end result or outcome. Introducing our new 'how to' series now available on the Activ Life Online Studio.
I often hear: "I'm not feeling anything so perhaps I'm not doing the pose correctly?" Or: "There's no way I can come into that pose", even before they've given it a go. Everyone's bodies are different and therefore will respond to poses differently. If we can break down a yoga pose, learn how to exit and enter it safely, as well as discover little adjustments while in the pose to maximise its effect on the body, it can only encourage us, and build confidence, to pursue a daily yoga practise with a group or on your own.
In our first 'how to' episode, Activ Life Health & Wellness Coach, Miranda, explores the Warriors. And like in any standing pose, the foundation falls on the feet. Similarly to finding an active core in a Dolphin Plank, we work on finding active feet in a standing position. It may seem simple but this is the yogic equivalent of learning to walk before you can run.
Here are a few favourite moves I like to integrate into my classes before I dip into the Warrior Series.
Spread your toes as widely on the mat as possible. Toes spend a fair bit of time cramped into shoes, so imagine how good this will feel. Lift up all your toes, spread them as widely as possible, and then place them back down onto the mat one-by-one, starting with the big toe. If you're up for a challenge, place your smallest toe down first and work backwards! Once the toes return to the mat, take a moment to feel the surface beneath your feet. Grip onto the mat, stretch the toes, and simply be aware of the ground underneath you.
Place gentle emphasis on rooting down through the heel, much like when you're in a squat position.
Actively engage the arches of your feet by drawing them up towards the ceiling. Perhaps move the weight gradually into the outside blades of your feet to help stimulate an active arch.
With these tools, now move into Warrior II. Step the feet out wide and extend your arms straight out from your sides. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Turn your left foot out 90 degrees, then bend your knee into a lunge. Be sure to keep your knee above your ankle and pointing over your toes. Turn your head to the left and look over your fingers.
Focus on your feet. Bring the weight gently into the outside blade of your back foot to actively engage the arch. Try this same action in your front foot and notice how this small adjustment encourages your left knee to journey towards the little toe, rather than move inwards. Spread and relax your toes and feel stability and support in your heels.
Repeat on the other side.
Louise FitzRoy is the Principal of Activ Life, a leading health and wellness company based in the Cayman Islands. If you enjoyed this article you may also like: 6 best balancing basics and 10 ways to improve your yoga practise.