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Back to Feet

By Kate Hay

THU MAY 05, 2022

Remember the old song: the foot bone connected to the shin bone, the shin bone connected to the knee bone, the knee bone connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone connected to the hip bone? Well, I would add on ... the hip bone connected to the iliopsoas group... Not exactly waxing lyrical, I know, BUT there's something to be said for accuracy.

Using the Feet to Read the Back

Whatever's happening in your back's going to show up in your legs and feet. In fact, many "knee problems" are actually back problems. Ideally, when you're lying on your back on the floor in savasana (corpse pose) your feet will be resting evenly with both sets of twos falling gently outwards at a 45 degree angle pointing to where the wall meets the ceiling. We label this foot angle anatomically ideal for when we are at rest on the back.

What happens all too often is that tension in one or other side of the back and /or hips translates down to the feet so the feet will be at different angles and maybe pointing to the ceiling or out sideways more to the wall. This misalignment exacerbates the issues in the back that causes the misalignment but also causes the feet, legs and knees to connect to one another incorrectly and can cause knee and foot issues. In fact, the problems can even travel all the way up to the head and neck as the body tries to compensate for being out balance. It can be very worthwhile to deal with the problem at the source and get straightened out!

What Happens In Class

Often when the class is lying in Savasana the yoga coach is standing and we get a good look at how the feet are resting on the floor. One thing I've noticed over the years is how pronounced the change can be after just one or two techniques. After pretty much all of the back stretch techniques, the once's where we work one side and then the other, I can see a big difference in the angle of the resting feet between the side we have stretched and the side we have yet to work. The purpose of today's blog is to share that perspective with you by showing some photos from some classes this week.

The Yoga

The yoga techniques we had been practicing before I took the photos were Kidney Stretch moving straight into Liver Stretch before resting. Where I've taken after roller pictures, this is at the end of class so the impact of the Kidney and Liver Stretches were already present in the back and you can see the further return to anatomical ideal with the roller. The roller work we did was the simple breath and rebalance sequence, including the shoulder blade add on at the end.

It should be clear why almost every one of my classes includes some version of these techniques. They are so effective!

The Yoga Coach's View

Here you get to see what I see when you're all enjoying your rest on the floor.

You can see the difference when only one side has been stretched out and the other side is resting on the floor in a state of imbalance. Once we have worked both sides, it corrects somewhat. BUT once we've realigned it again with roller session the feet are both more even and on the more ideal angle.

Back to Feet.

Hopefully, you will be able to see how issue in your back radiate out to the limbs (and vice versa), and imbalance impacts all of the body: side to side, top to bottom and bottom to top. Hopefully, you will also be able to see how measurable change can be made quickly and simply by practicing a few techniques, accessible to anyone. Now these techniques don't feel easy at the time, when you see the change we're making you can understand why it feels like a struggle, but with the assistance of props (e.g. a strap) to help you almost everyone can really improve their alignment!