Principles in this lesson:
Arc Dynamic Expansion
Sensitivity over Exertion Trusting Subtlety
The feet are monumental.
Think of the architectural term ‘footing.’
How important the underlying footing is
to the entire foundation and
structural support of the building.
The feet are a great beginning place
to get you grounded
and away from flattening
any part of your body.
The connection between a sense of well being
and having feet that are feeling and facile
and sensing instruments is immense.
The very ground of your being
and your well being
can be found in your feet.
(think of reflexology in which points
on the foot correspond to every
organ and appendage)
I have spent the last several years of my career on my knees....................
ministering to vagrant toes,
cupping in the palms of my hands
that have been teetering
too high for years
The principle of arc is essential here.
Elizabeth Andes-Bell Namaste Yoga Center
My teacher taught me that one way of working with archetypal imagery
is that one can separate the personal from the impersonal,
and I realized that the body itself is archetypal
in that it can be ascertained impersonally
as a brilliant assemblage of arcs and energies that extend into arcs.
(or do you leave this searching solely to me and your pedicurist)
hopefully you can clearly detect three parts:
the ball, the arch, and the heel.
Although the toes could be ascertained as separate from the ball,
for our purposes,
we will include them into one arcing energetic flow.
the pad under the big toe
and the pad under the pinkie toe.
Although the big toe and pinkie toe themselves are very different in size, the pinkie toe pad is about the same size as the big toe pad.
This could be an earth-shaking, ground-breaking, getting-you-to-be-ground-ed revelation, because it can lead you to using both sides of the ball evenly.
Think of how padded and sensory and
the padded feet of a cave-dwelling bear or a tree-climbing cat are.
(as opposed to pounding) whether it’s the pavement or the park.
Also direct the arc of the toes forward as opposed to pushing the toes out to the sides.
The next time you are out on the street, see how many people walk in some degree of duck feet.
Some people, especially men I have noticed, look like their feet are as turned out as the way I was warned not to walk after ballet class.
Putting Principles to Practice
Make sure that your knees are aligned
over your ankles and that
your heels are not
pulled back too far behind.
The lower leg should be plumb –
not angled forward or back.
Most of the time we sit with the heels
pulled too far back, causing a lot of
tightness in the shin and the front of the ankle.
After a while we don’t even realize this overworked frontal part of the body is tight.
Subtlety can be embraced as a quality of sensitive contact
that can be sustained and refined.
If you had to forcefully push the foot down, it would wear you out, and cause tension.
With subtlety, you are learning to become useful of sensitivity and contact, and letting go of over-efforting.
You are exploring the ultimate empowerment of activating through awareness and developing an affinity for surfaces (such as the floor, which is just an extension of the earth).as opposed to having to muscularly engage.
Now, and this is subtle, deepen the contact of the ball part of the foot,
sensing what you detected when you looked at
the big toe pad and pinkie toe pad –
that these pads being of similar size,
they can be given equal contact.
The foot bar on the Pilates reformer is an excellent way to explore how
the ball of the foot deepens contact while the arcing toes flow forward.
The combination of deepening down and flowing forward is an arc.
The down and forward together is what makes an arcing flow that is conducive to getting the foot out of flatness.
Heeling: If there were an action verb form
of the noun heel, that verb would be heeling.
The heel works in a perfect dynamic with the ball.
The bottom of the heel deepens down – it’s not a press – you do it much more with your sensitivity than with any forceful exertion –
The expansion of the bottom of the heel is combined
with feeling the back of the heel expand equally to both sides.
As I mentioned before, most people push the toes out to the sides to some degree which doesn’t allow the outer heel to activate and participate in a widening expansion that leads the whole foot into un-flattening.
Once the two halves of the heel are sensitively exploring expansion, then you can imaginatively extend a talon-like energy from the Achilles tendon.
If imagining a talon seems strange, it may interest you to know that the word for heel in both Spanish and French is talōn.
The heel deepens down
(as well as wide, just like you even-out the big toe pad and the pinkie toe pad)
and then by extending a talon-like energy back,
the resulting flow is a combination of down and back which is in balance with the down and forward flow of the ball-toe.
but in a balanced symmetry,
create together a lengthening of the entire sole of the foot and brings into play
which is the triumverate element in between the ball and the heel.
The dynamic between
the arcing forward energy of the ball-toes
and the arcing back of the heel-talon
a buoyant lengthening lift of the arch.
It's like a wave that swells from underneath in order to crest.
Let’s define dynamic for our purposes.
The dy part of dynamic could convey a sense of
two, as in dy-ad, or di-alogue or di-gital.
When the two directional forces between the front of the foot and the back of the foot are equalized and in balance and harmony, that is a dynamic.
It is only within the interplay of dynamic
between the ball-toes and the heel-talon
that the arch arises.
to imagine a talon-like energy
extending off of the heel,
look at your Achilles tendon
and the way it is very much
like the talons on this turkey foot
(minus the claws of course).
I look at this birthing as being in the foot. We perceive the foot as one thing, but one becomes two once the ball-toe and heel-talon become a dy-namic. The interplay between them creates the third element of the arch.
The newly-birthed triumverate feet then become informative for all of what is structured above them.
This foot composed of three elements relates further to what is central: the ball-toe relates to the pubis, the heel-talon relates to the tail,and the springy, buoyant arch relates to what is between the pubis and the tail: the springy, buoyant perineum, or pelvic floor.
Extending a talon-like energy off of
each heel becomes triumvirate with
extending a tail-like energy off of
the actual tiny tail bone.
The ball-toes deepening down and forward assists the pubis to emerge out from being tucked under tight groin muscles – the pubis can come forward in liberation for the pelvic floor or perineum to expand, but the pubis, like the ball-toes, does not move forward in flatness. It arcs out by releasing down and then coming forward from underneath.
Once the feet expand, then all above can begin to come into play:
the shins can spin, the calves can unravel, the hamstrings can gently activate and tether up on to the sit bones, the femurs can deepen......
and the spine which has three elemental curves to it just like feet, can begin to unwind, because the spine senses it's arcing relationship with the ball, arch and heel.
Undulating soles support a serpentine spine
Truthfully, there are times
in my teaching that I repeat the terms
talon and tail so often that I almost
want to change the name of my business to
Backbone Wingspan Talon and Tail
in my first blog originally entitled Pilates Iconoclast - Tim Driscoll
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