Popsicle Toes – Tuladandasana and Virabhadrasana III

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You’re so brave to expose all those popsicle toes.

Michael Franks

It’s crazy how much yoga gets you in touch with every part of your body, even down to a cellular level. Different poses can trigger emotions and the grounding of body parts can entirely change your experience in a posture. So many postures begin and end with the feet.

My feet sickle, meaning I have toes and arches curve in. Strengthening my arches has been a personal mission. It’s really helped my practice, especially when it comes to balancing poses. With strong arches and feet you can feel firmly planted on the ground. Strangely enough this can make you feel lighter.

Your big toe can tell you a lot about your body in a balancing pose like Tuladandasana or Warrior III.

I’ve always loved both of these poses but with stronger feet it’s a whole new ball game.

When I do Tuladandasana (Balancing Stick) I’m usually in a hot class. This means by the time I get to this pose, it’s at least 105° and I’ve been in the room for about 45 minutes. My clothes are soaked and with two balancing poses done before I step to the back of my mat, my heart is already pounding.

And yet despite all of this I smile, step forward on my right foot and drop into the pose.

This is when I check in with the big toe of the standing leg. Is it getting squirrelly  and squirmy on me? If so, by actively pushing down on my toe I’m engaging my inner thigh creating additional support. It also activates the arch and stabilizing muscles on the lower half of the body. The difference is – astounding.

Seriously. I mean such a small movement can powerfully change a pose as well as your ability to breathe in said pose. 

In Warrior III, by pushing the big toe down on the standing leg you can draw the pelvis forward and get the hip in line over the ankle. This gives me the feeling of flying.

As a new teacher (and a perpetual student) I’m looking for ways to cue students (and myself) to get the most out of a posture.

There’s a great website Bandha Yoga that shows poses in an anatomical viewer. If you like to geek out about poses, this is the site for you.

This is yoga. From head to toe.

Namaste y’all.

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