01 Jun Go Barefoot Day
Wherever you are, if you are wearing shoes or socks or both, stop and take them off. Now, slowly, stand up and place both feet on the floor, focusing on the sensation beneath your bare feet. Is the ground hard or soft? Warm or cold? Are you outside? Is there a breeze around or are you inside amongst warm, slow moving air?
Place your feet hip distance apart (not as wide as you think!). Slowly ground through your heels and feel the pressure being directed into the ground beneath you. Move that pressure towards the balls of your feet and feel it there. Alternate for a bit and find a balance between the two.
Now, if you are able, pick all five toes up off the floor and spread them as wide they allow. Keeping them separated, slowly lower the toes back to the ground, one at a time. Next, try to keep your big toe and little toe grounded while picking up all three middle toes from the floor (harder than it sounds). Smile.
Paying very specific attention to your toes is something that you will undertake regularly in Jock’s classes. Finding that stability and grounding, connection and strength at the beginning of your practice – roots you to your mat and gives strong foundations to your asanas.
If you robbed your feet of that connection to the earth by wearing shoes or socks during your yoga practice, you would confine the movement of the toes and interfere with the correct alignment. By feeling the ground beneath you, you are stimulating the nerve endings in the soles of your feet. You are able to absorb the energy of the earth, replenishing your supplies for the day whilst simultaneously calming your soul as you feel the effects of a grounding connection.
Your overall health benefits too. A study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported that people who had been exposed to ‘grounding’ or regular barefoot walking, had a better night’s sleep compared with those who did not walk barefoot regularly.
Various studies have shown barefoot walking to contribute towards muscle strengthening, a stronger immune system, reduce the risk of heart disease, a decrease in anxiety and stress and even lessen the severity of menstrual cramps. This is all before your yoga practice has even started.
So slip your shoes off and say hello to the ground for 15 minutes. Offer your bare feet as a sign of respect for this earth which offers a limitless supply of electrons that we can access for free and seemingly do better for being in contact with.
Without our feet we would fall down. Without our earth we would fall flat. Together, we can rise up and root strongly as one.