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  • Katie Hodge

6 Week Programme: Week 1 - Feet & Lower Legs

Updated: Aug 2

Welcome to this series of 6 virtual classes aimed at deepening your understanding on how yoga benefits the body. The programme will increase your knowledge, build confidence and ultimately enhance your yoga practice. Each week we focus on a different area of the body, working from the feet up to the neck:

Feet & Lower Legs

Quads & Hamstrings

Hips & Glutes

Core & Back

Hands, Wrists & Arms

Neck & Shoulders

Week 1: Feet & Lower Legs

The Feet

“Spread your toes, ground down through the feet”, are things you’ll hear me repeat during class. But why so important? In yoga, the body is a temple - the feet, our foundation. Strong feet enable us to carry the body with ease. A lack of arch in the feet can cause poor posture, due to the inner ankle bone collapsing in and down, causing misalignment further up the body in the hips or lower back.

Yoga helps create space within the inner arches, between the bones and the floor, particularly standing poses. For example, Mountain Pose (Tadasana), by feeling connected to the ground, yet lifting up towards the sky. By grounding down through the feet from the heel bone to the root of the big and little toe this creates a strong base, allowing inner arch of the foot to lift upwards. We want to increase the malleability and elasticity in the feet, to do this the muscles, fascia and bones should be given an opportunity to stretch and extend, for example this exercise in Mountain Pose (Tadasana):

Tadasana - Mountain Pose
Tadasana - Mountain Pose

- Stand tall with feet hip distance apart

- Lift the toes and draw energy up through the arches of the feet, all the way up to the crown of the head

- Then ground down through all four corners of the feet: ball joint of big toe, ball joint of little toe, and back two corners of the heels

- Bringing attention to where we carry our weight (forward/back/centrally) by focusing on our posture

- Relax toes down

- Come up onto you tippi toes and then release back down to the ground

- Repeat a few of times

The Calves

Our calves are made up of two large muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus, these muscles connect to the heel bone via the Achilles tendon. The gastrocnemius is the larger muscle, its origin just above the knee, the soleus is smaller and attaches to the fibula and tibia. Tightness in these muscles can have a negative impact on the Achilles tendon, reducing flexion of the ankle, effecting our ability to walk and run. As the gastrocnemius attaches above the knee onto the femur, tightness in this muscle can also impact the knee, relieving tension in the claves can help relieve pain in the feet for example plantar fasciitis, along with reducing stiffness and pain in the knees. Yoga can help relieve tightness in the calf muscles, for example Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana):

Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog
Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog

- Come down into an all fours position- wrists under shoulders, knees under hips

- Spread the fingers

- Tuck toes and lift the pelvis towards the ceiling, walk feet a step back to elongate the pose if required

- Imagine chest coming towards knees

- Feet are hip distance apart

- Lengthen the spine

- Work on bringing heels down towards the mat, bend knees if needed - to ensure length in the spine is not compromised

- Option to 'pedal' feet, coming up onto the tippi toes of one foot and bringing heel down towards mats with the other, then swapping over

The Shins

The tibialis anterior runs along the shin bone, located at the front of the leg. Its origin is the tibia and insertion is the first toe. This muscle allows the foot to lift towards the shin, and inverts the foot (sole of foot coming to midline of body). A stretch to elongate the tibialis anterior is Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana):

Vajrasana - Hero's Pose
Vajrasana - Hero's Pose

- Come to a kneeling position then sit back between the soles of your feet

- Top of feet are flat on the mat, toes pointing in line with shins

- Draw shoulder blades together, sit up tall, lift up through pelvic floor

- Press all 10 toes into the mat

Sources used to help create this blog:

Note: Please ensure you warm up before completing activities listed above; by engaging in these activities you do so at your own risk.

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