Yoga Students: Check Your Feet

check your feetLife is habit. I used to think that students came to yoga to change their habits but over time I realized that most students in yoga, and people in general, proceed through life reinforcing their habits.

We are a species that fears and avoids change. We crave permanence in an impermanent world and this leads to the ennui that so many people suffer through. Things change—it is one of the few unavoidable facts of life.

When if come to yoga students I watch so many unwilling or unable to listen. Asana yoga is basically a repetitive set of postures that we can use to change our body for the better, or we can treat it as an exercise routine that is better than not having an exercise routine.

When you teach the same students over time you can tell how well they listen and learn. Some do better than others. The reference above to check your feet is about the alignment of the legs in standing poses.

My classes, especially as we warm, move in and out of downward dog a lot. This means that students are stepping their feet forward and back many times. The spatial relationship of the legs determines the ease and efficiency of standing poses and if students aren’t told exactly how to set up the feet they simply step the foot forward to wherever it lands and go from there.

Advanced students with loose enough joints can bisect the arch of the back foot with the heel of the front foot. Less advanced students would probably be better served by lining up the heels. Beginners and those with tight hips are wise to put a couple of inches between the feet and legs.

All too often beginners do crazy things with the feet and legs because they are not thinking about this type of alignment or being taught what to do once the foot is forward.

This leaves too many students, beginners and advanced alike in a compromised position that makes hard poses harder still.

I encourage students to step the foot forward and check your feet and the way the line the legs up. If you do that every time you step forward for a month or two you will develop a habit that works for you and then you can stop thinking about it.

Your body will be trained to work as you choose and a good habit will have been established.

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