Monday, March 15, 2010

Feet and Feldenkrais

I've been thinking about feet lately.

There are a lot of references in the Bikram dialogue to feet--"flex your toes," "grip the floor," "stand with the heels and toes touching," to say nothing of the so-called Bikram stigmata we regulars sport proudly. The feet matter, but I think they often get overlooked. I've been trying to be a little more aware of them lately.

To help with this, I've been painting my toenails, and not just because I live in San Diego and spring is pretty much already here. While I have never gotten a "mani-pedi" or been the kind of girl to spend a lot of time on hair or makeup, I spend so much time contemplating my toenails in yoga that I figured I might as well give myself something to look at. 

One thing I realized after painting my nails is that the bones in my feet are changing! When I painted my toes more often last summer, the paint would get smudged if I didn't use a toe separater. And I don't have one, so that meant my toenail paint was pretty much always smudged ;-) But I painted my toes after class last night, and guess what? No smudging! I can see that my toes are pointing a little straighter. They used to be really tight in on each other, but all that floor-gripping action must be doing something!

Straight(er) toes!

On another note, anyone ever try Feldenkrais? My work is offering a one-hour session each week, and I tried it for the first time today. It's billed as "Awareness Through Movement," and from what I understand the sessions consist of very gentle, subtle movements designed to increase awareness and flexibility. Today was all about the pelvis--after walking briefly and observing our body, we lay on the ground and did these very gentle pelvic rolls.

It was an interesting experience. I could see that by the end, my spine was lying flatter on the ground and, in savasana, I was generally straighter (I can usually feel a curve to the right). I was also just much more aware of both body and surroundings, which, I think, is the goal of the practice. Admittedly, I had to stifle snickers at repeated "bring attention to your pelvis! Does your pelvis feel freer?" but overall it was interesting. I think I'll try it again.

The teacher's instructions were certainly distinct from Bikram's--she kept saying, "just be aware of differences between right and left. Don't try to correct anything." Maybe I'm misrepresenting Bikram, but I always thought that we were to identify differences in order to actively work on them!

Good to try new things, right?


bikramyogachick said...

Pelvic rolls....**waggles eyebrows**. I would've been trying not to crack up too! Tee hee. I could probably use something like that...I'm always crooked laying in savasana. Two teachers who are familiar with my practice are forever trying to straighten me, bless their hearts! :)
Toes: Yesterday, after neglecting my toes and my car FOREVER I decided to squeeze a car wash and a pedicure in between bikram classes. 1pm bikram, pedicure, wash car, eat, hydrate, then 7:30pm bikram. Yup, I messed up the big toes. In cobra! Darn it! Oh well, the foot rub during the pedi felt fan friggin tastic! No regrets!
P.S: I've been practicing three years, am on my fifth challenge and have yet to get the stigmata. Strange. And I know I"m pressing those suckers into the ground for cobra!!! **scratches head**

Johan said...

My Kundalini teacher used to say you should never go deeper on your best side then you can on your worst. Because you are just making the 'bad' side stiffer and therefor there will be no improvement. I'm still struggling with how to integrate that with Bikram's style of always going as far as is possible with good alignment for maximum benefit. I guess it's just like in class how different teacher have different often conflicting advice.

BYC, I've never had the stigmata either so you're not alone. Maybe it's to do with bone structure.

hannahjustbreathe said...

I've been told that I have a very small pelvis by more than one doctor. SO random, but it does explain why the "hip-opening" poses (triangle, tree pose) hurt/help me so much. Something tells me a class focusing on freeing up my pelvis might be quite interesting...hmm...

Yolk E said...

Yeah--maybe stigmata comes in depending on shape of the feet and where they place themselves on the ground. Height and weight probably affects that, too. Possibly, my alignment is off.

Poor Hannah and her un-free pelvis :-) Yeah, give it a try! Although, admittedly, I didn't really FEEL like my hips or anything had been opened or stretched the way they do in yoga. It was more like they got some experience rotating.

Lady J said...

Interesting that you mention the toes. I painted mine on Saturday and was looking everywhere for my toe seperators. My toe next to the baby toe always rubs against the 3rd toe and messes up my polish. I couldn't find them so I went ahead and painted them anyway. I had no polish rubbing anywhere! Surprising. But you've brought it to perspective. Our bodies are always changing :)

thedancingj said...

And I was JUST thinking that I should really get my first mani-pedi right before teacher training... :)

Chrissy D. said...

I've got the Bikram stigmata in the exact same spot as you on my feet. Those who don't sport the stigmata are lucky -- those suckers hurt when they're irritated.

I agree with your comments about feet -- they are too often ignored. I try to get regular pedicures, even in the dead of winter when there's no chance of open-toed shoes, so that I have something interesting to look at in yoga.

One thing I've noticed about my feet since I started practicing Bikram is that they've gone down a half size. I use to fit perfectly in a 7 and now I'm a 6 and a half!

Yolk E said...

Yay for prettifying the feet :-)

Mine have gotten smaller too, Chrissy! I kind of wonder why but for some reason, I don't want to spoil the mystery ;-)

ariella said...

I totally got the stigmata. I kinda like it. I always associated it with fixed firm.

Regarding evening out... I do work with the idea of trying to build strength on the weaker side.

It makes me think of a teacher in my studio who told me about floor bow - if you've got one foot higher than the other, bring it down to the weaker one, kick and try to keep them even.

I don't worry too much about not going deeper in one side in the balancing poses. I guess mine aren't way off from each other.

My feet have gotten stronger too, alas, they're not painted and pretty and sparkly. Sounds like a project! (last line say it like Oprah would.)

cirita said...

I truly believe that Bikram cures it all. Everyone around me is getting tired of my bikram "sermons" now. Someone asked me in the past if there were any negatives to this practice ( since I am always talking about the positives), my answer was ugly feet and dry hair.

Both of my big toes are very rough now, from pressing too much against the carpet. Then my hair looks super dry from washing it everyday. Maybe I should paint my toes too so I can fall in love with them again ;)

So Bikram stigmata is called. I didn't know!!!

Yolk E said...

Hahaha, Cirita. Painting the toenails helps a lot :-) And I have to stifle the Bikram sermons. One of the reasons I started blogging is because my friends were starting to get a little sick of me!

Thanks for the tip about the kicking foot, Ariella. I too associate the stigmata w/fixed firm. When I'm doing the pose correctly I can really feel it on the tops of my feet! (I admit it's weird that the spot isn't in the same place. Assymetry rules the day again!)

Michelle Marie said...

I just got my very first pedicure at some point around day 45 of my challenge. It felt like a wonderful gift to my feet for all their hard work.

At one point, the pedicurist asked me if I knew that my right ankle was totally swollen. I had no idea. My right knee had been swollen for 2 weeks, so that was what I had been icing and tending to each day. I was shocked when she held my ankles next to each other. It was so swollen.

Not only did I get a lesson in paying better attention to my body, but the massage she did on my ankle fixed my knee. The next day my ankle was so sore, but the swelling in my ankle and knee were both gone. 48 hours later all was well.

And my toenails were pretty, too! :)

My second pedicure will mostly like happen next week--at around day 85 of my challenge!

Yolk E said...

Hey Michelle! Thanks for the comment. So you think the knee and ankle swelling were related, huh? Hmm, maybe there's something to this pedicure stuff!

Anonymous said...

your toes are really cute ;)