Focus On the Feat

Since someone said that my repeated mention of the phrase, “hip opener” was perhaps headed in a lurid direction, I have to decided to shift my question for freedom and creativity to the feet. In all fairness, I didn’t so much decide, it was more that I returned to my regular Wednesday night Yoga class and my teacher told us that if we wanted to get our hips open, we had get our thighs back, but before we could get our thighs back, we had to start at the foundation, in our feet.

This is a favorite theme of Julie’s, and it is perfectly suited to me. Because, a) I have a tendency to stand on the side edges of my feet and feel unbalanced and mess up my hips and b) I heart chaos.

In Anusara, there are three primary principles: Open to Grace, Muscular Energy and Organic Energy. They must be accessed in that order. Now, Organic energy is what you “see” when you look at people exploding and stretching out of these amazing poses. But in order to do them correctly without injuring yourself or missing something, you’ve got to nail the first two. You can Open To Grace by setting up your foundation–spreading the toes, getting the feet parralel, and putting equal weight on the ball and heel. In short: You have to know where you stand.

Then, you can add the muscular energy of firing your quads and pushing them back. Only then do you get the release in the hips that will allow your lower back to release and your upper body to shine upward adding all kind of length. For 5’11” (12″) girl like me, adding length is not actually that exciting a prospect. Maybe my eternal and wholly irrational quest to be shorter is why grounding my feet is proving to be such a…feat.

But the truth is, no challenge can really be tackled intelligently without the proper foundation, because without it, we can’t be truly accountable for our actions. For example, why does my drivers license say 5’10”? Slouching, baby. It works like a charm. Unless you want to do something correctly, conquer a truly difficult challenge or move on to the next level of your life, your work, your whatever.

It’s true that I love the chaotic existence more than most. I arrange hourly panic attacks about the location of my house keys to avoid thinking of about more pressing issues. My desk is a mess. If I move to another table at the office, it becomes a mess within 9 minutes of me sitting there. I am 15 minutes late. Always.

But I also see the chaos trend in others. Namely, they worry that things are going to “happen” to them, or around them that are out of their control. These outside factors will render them powerless, they believe. They only thing to do is complain, and if that doesn’t work: panic.

The problem with this line of thinking is that you start depending on external factors for stability. An you can glean stability from the outside–for a while. But it might lead you to choices you’d rather not make. For example, it turns out that as the economy falters, previously independent, career-minded women are turning to marriage for stability.

“Professor Cary Cooper, a social scientist at Lancaster University told The Daily Telegraph that during economic boom times, people are “me-oriented.” But when they are stripped of hope for wealth and immediate personal achievement, people long for the security of a stable relationship.” [click for full article]

Um….yikes. Right? I mean, love, intimacy and stable relationships are great–or so I hear–but the bottom line is, I don’t think you can make good choices if you’re getting into a relationship to fill an empty, external slot in your life. But, what you can learn by “focusing on your feet” is that those slots may be red herrings, or distractions from real goals that stem from your core intentions. When the task at hand isn’t superficial, you and your feet may be able to to achieve a truly great feat. (Yes, I am deliberately writing cheeseball sentences so that I can repeatedly use feat and feet interchangably. Feel free to tell me I “stink.” )

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6 thoughts on “Focus On the Feat

  1. I just wrote a little something about my yoga practice, stability and foundations myself.Personally I think its more than just relationships we need stability for. Its everything.We have to find a way to stand on our own two feet mindfully and with purpose. And not waft around in the wind, being blown about by circumstance…

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  2. Relationships never fill personal slots. I can never expect someone to lead me where she can’t follow. And (to work in your “feet” thing), until I master human flight, anywhere I go is going to be feet-first.

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  3. In the private I took today we focused alot on the feet. Who would have thought how hard Tadasana could be when you really pay attention to it??I really liked your description on in regards to the primary principles. I am still learning so it was a delight to read someone elses perception.

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  4. Yeah, and here’s another point. Focusing on the feet, spreading those toes, planting a firm foundation are not only yoga feats, they are medical-related feats as well. I always stood on the outside of my feet as you mentioned doing. When I was in the work world my office wardrobe included heels, shitty shoes. I have high arches that need lots of support, even in flats, and I didn’t adhere to that need after I left work (went for cheap flats instead). This all led to the shocking development of a miserable bunion on my right foot. A foot doc wants to do surgery but I’m keeping that at bay by being smart with shoes…..and this summer I’m getting a pair of those “yoga sandles” I’ve seen, where all the toes are spread. They look fantastic, or like they would <>feel<> fantastic! The word practice takes on a whole new meaning when you practice spreading your toes with a bunion. It takes force like I can’t believe. But I’m grateful for the practice….

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  5. I like this post- it was very interesting and thought provoking. we are social beings, thus relationships in general are common place and important- but I like how you stress the right reasons and our commitment to ourselves. So lost in today’s “other” and superficial culture.It took me a LONG time to be able to think about my feet with yoga. I now think about them all the time… I visualize my feet grounding in tadasana- with roots spreading out and anchoring myself into place. Sometimes my feet like to cramp up and remind me they are there… lol.Beautiful post- glad I stumbled across your blog! 🙂Blessings!

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  6. What a feat to honor the feet!!I resonate with the notion of chaos as a form distraction and busy-making. And grounding the “feat” is a way to nail your self down when it seems to want to fly all over in an ecstatic homage to banality.

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