A little while ago I popped this photograph on Twitter and for some days after lovely people all over the world retweeted and favourited (how do you write that outside of Twitter World?) it.
I love it and had completely forgotten about taking this picture. Sitting quietly it came to me that we were visiting the Red Fort in Old Delhi and this amazing tree was in the grounds.
This was some years ago when my husband and I spent 3 weeks touring Rajasthan. Delhi was our arrival point and our trip around that frenetic city was hasty but a great introduction to India…and I loved it all.
My latest reading foray has been into discovering more about feet. I have mentioned feet before but in amongst other bits and bobs.
The photograph above highlights for me the absolute necessity for feeling grounded, rooted into our earth. A tree if not secured and nourished by the land will eventually die.
Since 1999 I have been massaging wonderful people and every single treatment will include me working on their feet. I do not do half hour sessions as that leaves no time for feet and a holistic approach to the body. This has bemused many over the years but it is simply my way of being able to be totally present with that person.
I actually believe that we die from the feet upwards and I discovered these very words in a wonderful book by Noah Karrasch. He has presented his thoughts in two great books that, probably, all body workers and yoga teachers ought to read. He trained in Rolfing and has over the years developed his own methods as well.
Feet ought to be flexible, open, sparkling with energy and totally alive.
This is not the case with so many people. Our feet truly reflect how we are…wobbly, unstable, stiff, tired, the list goes on! When was the last time you really and truly spent time with your feet? They do so much for us. We spend hours standing, walking, charging about for buses, trains, planes. We sit at desks totally unaware of how our roots feel. We flop down in the evening with aching legs, sore feet and no energy.
My first yoga classes with Julie Brown of The Iyengar Institute at Dukinfield really introduced me to my feet. Every week we were encouraged to lift our toes, find where our weight sat in our feet…was I heel or a ball-of-the-foot person? What happened if I really spread my feet open from my heel to my toes? How about lifting my insteps whilst in trikonasana. I recall my feet aching and my legs feeling more alive. How interesting.
When working with Sandra Sabatini yoga was gentle and slow. Why then did my feet ache and why did I wake in the night feeling them burn? Sandra coaches you to walk slowly, slowly upon the earth but to be truly mindful of every step. A week in India with her spending hours opening our feet and feeling the wave of the breath and energy up from the earth left me with a sense of complete stability. There is safety and deep compassion when in the presence of Sandra and her co-teacher Mikhal. There is time she says….slow down and place your feet thoughtfully upon the earth and then, how amazing, I felt my body move in a wave-like motion from my base!
Aha, then I met Ana Forrest and her yoga is truly different, or is it really? Ana asks for Active Feet with capitals! They stay Active for everything except in savasana and when your time on this earthly plane is well and truly over! More spreading of the toes, more opening of the ball of the feet and more lengthening….the calf muscles ache, the thighs shake and groins start to wake up. I thought my feet were active and then I worked with Ana and realised they were still dozing.
The following is taken from THE NIA TECHNIQUE by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas. Their words about feet fit perfectly into my understanding as a body worker and yoga teacher….
The Voice of the Feet
To your physical body – I am your connection to the earth, the conduit that allows you to receive and to return earth’s energy. My physical structure is alive with over seven thousand nerve endings. I am the one who encourages you to move kundalini, or chi energy, from the earth up, into, and through your body, all the way up into the heavens. I tell you where you are, how to find balance, how to step gently, and how to find grace as an upright being.
To your mental body – I send information to your brain and nervous system regarding balance and safety. If you allow me to think for you, I can tell you exactly what you need to do to create harmony in your whole body. If you awaken to my intelligence, you can relax into my vast sensation of awareness.
To you emotional body – the physical part of you that feels joy and sadness – I offer a direct line of communication that tells you exactly how you are feeling at any given moment. When you are nervous, I tap. When you are afraid I contract. And when you feel safe , I soften and spread. I am always talking to you. I am one of the most sensitive parts of your body. Sense my changes, and discover what I am saying to you, moment to moment.
To you spiritual body – the part of you that has no boundaries – I hold the keys to the many personalities that compose you. I offer you warrior feet, mother feet, lover feet, achiever feet and more. I can help you become any archetype that fills your form. Play with me and awaken new energies within your body.
I have discovered over the years that simply caring for my feet gives me the sense that I am nurturing myself and also taking time to simply sit quietly.
Into a large bowl of warm water containing several handfuls of Epsom Salts or Himalayan Salt gently and lovingly place your feet and let them soak. Then, tenderly dry them and spend some moments massaging oil into each foot. Finish off by putting on some soft socks and smile! When working on your feet you are treating all of you…what a delight.
The stronger and more vital your feet become the healthier your emotional self will feel. You are connecting to earth energy and this brings safety and balance and takes us out of our head space where there is all that chatter, criticism and negativity. Walking, running, yoga and life become, somehow more spacious and ease-filled.
MAY WE ALL WALK IN BEAUTY….