Improve Balance In Standing Poses

Focal Points of the Feet 

BALANCE

You Might Be Missing These 3 Key Components in the Feet

Standing balance postures can sometimes be a source of frustration in our physical yoga practice. We all have moments like this on the mat and awareness of the difference between each side of the body often develops into a narrative that we have a “good side” and a “bad side”. Being aware of these differences, however, actually creates opportunity. Awareness deepens our understanding of where we need to focus our attention, so that we can develop and transform the experience we have in our bodies and shift the narrative. Over time and with consistent practice, we build strength and eventually, better balance.

When it comes to the biomechanics of any posture, the magic lies in the most subtle movements. In my experience, there are three key components for building confidence and ease in standing balance postures. In this tutorial video, we will look at how these components apply to Ardha Chandrasana set up.

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    Doing The Groundwork

    Doing the groundwork means exactly that. The foundation of our postures is built from the ground up. Once we understand this, we can slowly build upon this foundation. When it comes to finding steadiness in our standing balance postures, we must look at what’s happening with our feet. The position of our feet, strength of the ankles, and recruitment of the buttock muscles translates to stability in the hips. But how can we do this, and what does it look like? 

    LET’S SET IT UP

    With your shin bone vertical to your ankle, lift all your toes up and away from your mat; this will help to activate and strengthen your tibialis anterior (the muscles in front of your shin bone). While doing this, be mindful not to send unequal weight into either side of your foot. Send equal weight into the earth. This is the first step in creating awareness and an imprint of this action into your body.

    3 Key Components You Might Be Missing

    1.  Pressing down through the big toe (and big toe mound) creates eversion of the foot.  This builds sensation in the fibularis group of muscles (muscles in the outer shin). 
    2. Pressing down through the pinky toe (and pinky toe mound) creates inversion of the foot, which helps to create a “fanning” of the three middle toes.  Lifting these three toes help to activate the tibialis anterior. When these actions are put into place, we will find the tibialis posterior muscles also activate (muscles inside of the shin).
    3. Pushing down through the heel recruits the calf and buttock muscles. 

    All of these actions together create maximum support around all four sides of the ankle joint, unlocking our ability to transform our balance experience.

    These are the foundations we can build upon.  It’s also important to understand that we come to our physical yoga practice with an awareness that not all pieces of the puzzle always fall into place right away.  Visualizing the process is a powerful first step that helps to build a neurological pathway.  Then we take action and we can even help ourselves by applying our own assists.  We can get curious about parts of the body not responding to the signal from the brain quite yet. It doesn’t mean that it will never happen, it just means that it may require more patience, consistency, and time.

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    How do we put this into practice with standing balance postures? We lift the three middle toes up with one hand, while pressing  the big and pinky toes down.  We visualize the middle toes remaining lifted off the mat, even if they’re not quite ready to do that on their own. You can practice this part of the process alone and slowly build it into other postures like Anjaneyasan or Vira Virabhadrasana II before exploring postures like Digasana or Ardha Chandrasana.

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    Written & Edited By Trish Curling

     

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