Written by Abi Ponce Hardy @ Octoyoga
Today I am going to talk about Yielding and centering the feet.
Donna Farhi says "Any surface of the body that makes contact with the ground must yield to the earth. Actively yielding to the earth creates a rebounding force away from the earth, elongating the body upward into space. Whenever the relationship of yielding to the earth is lost, breathing is restricted."
First we come to the feet. Centering the weight evenly in the feet is so important during asana and everyday life. If our weight becomes awkwardly distributed this will channel upward into the rest of our body creating imbalances through the knees, hips, spine (and everything else, as everything is connected!). We ideally want the weight of our body to be equally in the balls of the feet, the heels and both sides. I will give you a little exercise that you can do to check your centering!
Come to stand comfortably with your feet hips width apart. Bring your weight into the front of your feet, completely into the balls of your feet. Notice how this is uncomfortable, you have to work your toes, glutei, hips and maybe also other parts of your body. Stay here for about 10 breaths and notice the sensations. Next bring the weight into the heels of your feet, notice your quads and core working. Again stay here for about 10 breaths, and really notice how you have to work to be here. Next take the weight into the outsides of your feet, again 10 breaths - notice, observe. And lastly bring the weight into the insides of the feet, 10 breaths. After you have done this inquiry take time to bring the weight equally into all four corners of your feet, you can do this by rocking backwards and forwards, side to side. Moving parts of your feet until you can feel like complete balance.
Now you have your feet centered! Next comes yielding.
What we want when we have connection to the feet is an ability for the energy to travel up through the soles of your feet to the crown of your head, and then back down again. We want a rebounding force that lets you feel light and effortless on the earth beneath you.
What we can do to find this balance is three more enquiries. Collapsing, propping and yielding.
Stand again with your feet centered, and then start to imagine your bones dropping into the earth, down down down. Let go of all muscular engagement and almost feel like your body is falling into the ground, slouch your back and let your arms fall. Collapse. Stay here for 5-10 breaths and notice what it feels like in your breathing and body.
Next start to actively push the ground away from you, lift up through your kneecaps, your thighs, core, heartspace and finally lift up through the crown of your head like you are trying to really get away from the ground. Propping. Again stay here for 5-10 breaths and notice how your breath is stuck up in the upper lobes of your lungs, and you will most likely be tired after 10 breaths of being so active.
Finally comes the Yielding. Let your feet soften into the earth, but continue to have a slight push, soften into your joints but keep the buoyancy. Keep lifting through the crown of your head but don't try and reach so far that you are jumping. Imagine someone has a piece of string attached to your head and is ever so gently pulling it up. Breathe fully here. Notice how once you are aligned and yielding, with this rebounding effect of energy from the ground, you can breathe and stay here in your Tadasana much longer, and with much more comfort.
Next time you practice asana, practice yielding. Notice how that feels in your body, can you go further than you thought, or stay somewhere longer without using so much muscular engagement?
You can also use yielding in everyday life, such as running and walking. Yielding will help you go further and bounce higher. We are receiving help from the earth.