Bend It Like Bex Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 3

Your Toes Know

45 min - Practice


Bex guides us in a practice that focuses on our feet and the strength and stability in our legs. We begin with a seated meditation to gather our energy before moving into some fancy footwork to open and stretch the toes. You will feel inspired and strong.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block

About This Video


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Welcome, I'm Becks and we are gonna do a sequence for your feet with lots of fun, so, you can start in vajrasana with your inner ankles touching, sitting on your heels, or grab a block, put it underneath the sit bones and snuggle the inner ankles to the block for virasana. Bring your hands where you like them, and close your eyes. When you seal your eyelids for the meditation, feel that uprising through the center line of the body, and then within the collar bones. So you note the way your body, your container feels, beginning in this shape with the tops of the shin bones connected to the mat. See about lengthening the roof of your mouth up and back.

And then just tap into that reservoir of breath. Your inner life force. As you allow the mind, the body, and even the breath to arrive in this shape, give yourself permission to feel whatever is coming up for you. So you use this initial sit to release anything that's not serving you and to sharpen the aperture of the mind, on serving yourself with your breath and all the benefits that come from the practice. So it's a brief sit, enough space, enough time for you to gather inward energy.

So when you bring your hands to your heart center in prayer, and you pick your intention, your dedication, your mantra or your motivation, allow that to come through the breath and be marinated in your body throughout the practice. So go ahead and open your eyes and come on to all fours. You can remove your block and put it to the side for now. When you come on to all fours, you will place your hands, spread your fingers delicately on the mat so the shoulders stack above the elbows and the wrist, and the tops of the feet will press into the floor, and the shin bones will press into the floor, and you'll begin with your ujjayi pranayama, so the lips will seal and the nose will be the main filtration system. You will exhale and round the back, and as you feel the belly tether, the navel tether, just a little lift of the knees, and then inhaling here, exhale one more breath and see if you can carve the belly to the front of the spine.

When you land the shin bones, flex the feet, inhale into extension, recruiting the side body energy as well, and then slowly again float the knees, this time hug in from the skin inhaling, and then when you exhale land the shin bones, the tops of the feet round the back so it's gentle and it's real subtle movement at this point, tapping into the breath and then releasing the shoulders away from the ears, lift the knees, round the back. It's like a gentle scoop and then when the shin bones land, flex the feet, inhale into that extension, your exhale is just a pause here, and then you inhale and rise the knees. You can feel the sit bones kind of blossom back a little bit. Last round, the knees will land, shins, tops of feet, belly hugging in, knees rising, features of the face soft. And then the shin bones land, the feet flex, you go into extension, shoulders recline, and then gently let it land, release.

Take a moment to just feel. And then slowly walk the feet toward the hands, grab for an opposite elbow and pause in uttanasana. So now you'll grab your block once again, you don't wanna use it that's fine, you're gonna snuggle it in to that sweet spot up high on the thighs, and you will inhale and come all the way up, arms will come up. Hands at the heart center in prayer, and then maybe that your block slid, I know mine did, so, I pull it up and I also kind of tug it back so it gives that thigh bone on the right and the left permission to feel like it's sliding. You'll do a mini-vinyasa just with your toes, so it's like a half surya namaskar, inhaling the arms up, come one to the tiptoes, feel the midline squeeze and then exhale, thread the hands to the heart center and prayer.

All right, so that's so fun, we'll do it two more times. Inhale the arms up, feel the low belly snuggle back, inner thighs hug, and then exhale, hands to the heart center and prayer. So the breath is moving you, inhale arms up, come tiptoes, and then exhale hands to the heart center and prayer. Now as you feel your feet getting grounded, you will remove the block, you can place it down to the side, you'll need it later. Feet together, inhale your arms up, come on to your tip, tip, tippy-toes.

And then exhale fold forward and down into uttanasana. Hands can rest wherever's comfortable, shins, floor. Inhale, lengthen the chest, and exhale the right leg back. Bring some attention to the back leg, reducing the bend in the knee, inhale look forward. Exhale the left leg back, inhale to the plank pose, and then exhale slowly lower all the way to the floor.

Thigh bones roll in, hands will stay under the shoulders, shoulders up and then down the back, pin elbows in. Inhale lift the chest, exhale release. Again, that will happen, inhale lift, exhale release. If you need a child's pose you can go there first, otherwise you inhale into the plank, exhale into adho mukha svanasana, downward facing dog. Right, if it's the first one for you of the day it's kind of sweet to pedal the feet, close the eyes, tap into the arms, right.

Consider what's happening in the pillars of the arms and the legs, and then let the skin on the back of the neck relax. Take a deep inhalation, lifting the right leg, step the right foot forward, focus on the back leg, flexing, inhale look forward, step the left foot to join the right. Hands on the shins, inhale lift the chest. Exhale fold forward and down. Inhale come all the way up, urdhva hastasana, exhale hands to the heart center and prayer.

So remember to add the toes again, if that doesn't excite you, you can skip it, no one's watching. Inhale come on to those tiptoes, exhale fold forward and down, hands wide or together. Inhale lift the chest, take the left leg back, exhaling. Inhale gaze forward, exhale the right leg back. Inhale into the plank, and then exhale, slowly lower all the way to the ground, roll the thigh bones in, and then inhale lift the chest.

Exhale release. Inhale lift, feel the palms kind of slide back as the sternum moves forward. Exhale release. Downward facing dog. Know that anytime in the practice you can feel free to take child's pose.

As you lengthen and route through the hands, maybe check out, look forward, see if that eye of the right elbow is gazing toward the left thumb and that eye of the left elbow is gazing toward the right thumb. And then as the head releases, really feel the bony rhythm of the legs, inspiring more strength, rinsing the breath through. Inhale lift the left leg, exhale step the foot forward. Inhale gaze forward, exhale the right foot to join the left. Inhale lift the chest, exhale fold and this time if you want to be a little daring on the inhale on the way up, you can come up and go into the tiptoes and see how that plays with the mind, the body, and the breath.

And then exhale the hands to the heart center and prayer. Now we'll go into B, bend the knees, fingertips touch the floor, bring the seat back for uttanasana, arms go up, if you need to bend the elbows or keep the arms down by your sides, feel free to do that. We'll add on, cause our toes are so excited, inhale rise the heels, exhale lower the heels. One more, inhale rise, exhale lower. And then spring up, inhale tiny back bend, exhale fold forward and down.

Inhale lift the chest. You can step back or if you feel proficient at hopping, you can hop back and take chaturanga slowly. Low cobra or upward facing dog. Downward facing dog on an exhalation. Step the right foot forward, turn the left heel in, inhale the arms up, as the arms come up, feel the contents of the left side, waist, and ribs moving in the direction of the top of the mat.

And then exhale hands down through the heart center, plank, you could skip it, and go into down dog or child, otherwise it's chaturanga, low cobra or upward facing dog, inhale, firm legs, exhale downward facing dog. And then step the left foot forward, right heel in, outer seam of both feet sealing down. Inhale lift the chest. On your next exhalation the hands come down and you move through whatever feels joyful and effervescent in the practice, right. So if exhaling into chaturanga inspires you, then you do that, inhaling into low cobra or up dog.

And then you exhale into down dog. You come into the space and you feel, and you see if you can lengthen the sit bones up and back in a way that allows the breath to feel like it's moving through the rivers in the body. Exhale bend the knees, look to the hands. You might step or you might hop, feet to hands, hands on shins, inhale lift the chest, exhale fold. Again the knees bend, the arms come up, you inhale into uttanasana and then place the arms where you like.

Lift on to the tiptoes and then lower the heels. Lift on to the tiptoes, lower the heels. This time we do three, so one more, inhaling, exhale heels lower, inhale arms come up, and then exhale fold forward and down. Inhale lift the chest. Again, you can step or you can hop into chaturanga and then inhale into low cobra.

Exhale downward facing dog. Virabhadrasana A, step the right foot forward. Feel the feet and how grounded they are and then rise the arms up, the back leg is super straight. On your next exhale bring the hands to the floor, right leg back, either stay in the plank for three rounds of breath or exhale chaturanga, inhale up, exhale back, left foot steps, right heel in, inhale the arms come up, you feel like the feet are siphoning the earth's energy up into you. Exhale hands to the floor, left leg back.

Moving through, linking the poses the way that makes you happy. It's a joyful practice, it's a practice of feeling your feet on the ground and your hands connecting through the mat to the earth, into that space where your hands feel like they finally get to feel what your feet feel all day long. Bend your knees when you exhale up to the hands. Step or hop, feet to hands, inhale lift the chest, exhale fold. Bend the knees for uttanasana, and then come on to those tiptoes.

Exhale the heels, hands to the heart center and pause. Close your eyes, feel what's going on in the body and the breath. And then go ahead and open your eyes and come to the middle of the mat. So when you come to the middle of the mat, you find yourself bisecting it, right, you have as much space in the front as you do in the back, because if you don't, you might end up on the floor with one foot, it's not a big deal. So, on your inhalation you will jump.

Take the feet as wide as they can, maybe the wrists will land under the ankles, maybe not. You pivot on your right heel coming into warrior two. As you come into warrior two, you'll take up just enough space. Now sometimes when we come into warrior two, we're in our habit warrior and the knee is a little bit behind stacking or a little ahead, so today, I want you to be precise and stack that knee above the ankle and then feel like there's a little more energy in the left arm, the one you can't see, because when you inhale you'll come onto your tiptoe. Hopefully, you're not tired of that.

And then you'll lower your heel. And then, again, inhale onto the tiptoe. Lower the heel, last time inhale, and then exhale. Descend the pelvis a little more and then feel the thigh bones thread into the pelvis. It's like you're juicing it up, and then reverse the warrior.

So for the reverse, you keep the contents of the legs inspired and strong. You can look up toward the side or down, whatever really allows for that spaciousness. And then you ride the breath, and you wait. All right, you wait in the pose because often, the pose doesn't even begin until you wanna come out. Sort of like life, right, when you think you're ready to run, you might as well just stay.

And then inhale come up, place the forearm on the thigh, for utthita, para, ooh, whoops, parsvakonasana, my mind had a loop there. So you side angle long and strong, breathe, here. And as you breathe, left ribs might roll if you wanna give 'em a little love you can roll 'em back, sit a little deeper into the right thigh which is telling you, yes, I've been doing this for awhile. And now you'll look down. If your block is close, you'll grab it and put it underneath, right where your calf is.

So here you'll shorten the stance and you'll find that the foot will flex until it hits the block, and so it's kinda like you have to find that magic spot. Once it does, you'll keep the right hand connected to the outer part of the right chin like you're pulling up the skin and you come in to utthita trikonasana. And then you gaze up if that drishti is comfortable for you, or you gaze down and the foot is flexed, so if that's a new shape for you, sometimes it takes a little bit of figuring it out. You lift the upper front of the thigh bone, the quads. And then again, wait, breathe.

Lift, tone. And then very slowly bend the right knee, take the block out, slide the foot in, straighten, turn your right foot parallel to your left. I'm certain your legs will appreciate this. Jump your feet together, bring your hands to your heart center in prayer. Close your eyes.

That's a lot of excavation that just happened. So kinda just chew on it, breathe. And then, open your eyes, two toe lifts. Inhale hands stay at the heart, heels rise. Exhale lower.

Inhale heels rise and then exhale lower. Now you'll wanna grab your block now because if you don't when we go into triangle, it won't be there unless you know some trick I don't. Now, the block is to the side of the mat, you inhale, jump the legs wide, come into warrior two, virabhadrasana, and remember, nice stance, sit low. You sit low enough that the shin bones are vertical, thigh bone is working toward horizontal. Remember, it's your intention, so my thigh bone might not be horizontal, but I intend for it to be horizontal, and it just happens that some days it is and some days it's not.

So on the inhale the heel rises and on the exhale it lowers, my calf goes, whoo, that's a lot. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Sit deeply, reverse the warrior. So again, that drishti, that focal point is either down to the side or up, and it's in a place where you breathe freely.

When you inhale to come up, you'll grab the block as you straighten a leg, and then you'll find that magic spot again. So the block wants to feel pretty stable and you flex that left foot and then you align yourself with that clear refinement, so if you feel like you're slumping forward, find the long lines of energy, slide into it, and then you can look up to the side, or down, again, the upper part of the left thigh is firing, it's engaged. Big flex in the foot. And then slowly release, appreciate that your block helped you out. Release it, turn the feet parallel and jump your feet together again.

So there's that moment of flush, hands come together, eyes close. Right, so it has that after taste, you notice it, and then you open your eyes, jump your feet wide here. This time the heels turn in, toes turn out. So you come into that space where you're really in touch with the connection of the feet, thigh bones wide and the hands come into prayer. If you have another expression you like with your hands feel free to take it.

And then your heels rise when you inhale, dip the pelvis, and your heels lower. Inhale rise, soft features face. Heels lower, and then I notice I'm pitching my torso forward. If that's happening for you, lean back a little. It's far more interesting here, right.

Inhale heels up. Exhale heels lower. Just when you think it can't get any better we'll straighten the legs. Turn the feet parallel, look at the toes. Make sure they're aligned, and then inhale front body stretch.

Exhale fold forward and down for prasarita padottanasana, we're gonna skip the first three and go right into the fourth. That's kind of fun. Inhale lean and left. And then exhale fold. So when you fold, you bend your arms, right, you let the head hang.

You drag the skin of the top of the shoulders, your traps, up, and then the elbows bend such that the forearms are vertical and you work the upper arm toward horizontal. Remembering that breathing is the pose. The pose doesn't have to look like something you've seen in a book. You don't look like something you've seen in a book, so you appreciate that authenticity and you breathe freely and you just notice that you do the best you can. Hands come down, heel-toe your feet together, in and out, in and out.

Once the big toes touch, we'll do one of my favorite variations of malasana where the feet are together and the knees go wide, and then the arms come forward and you bow, head bows to heart, right. This is a practice of feeling, a practice of courage. And the origin of the word courage comes from core, corazon, all right, so to speak from the heart. So when the head bows to the heart it's like, OK, maybe I'll listen, maybe I won't boss you around all the time. And then maybe if you like, you can take the hands behind the heels and then be even more courageous and see, ooh, what's happening.

All right, folding. Then slowly release that. You'll spin on your toes and then come into child's pose. So for this balasan, bring your hands to your ankles and let your forehead rest. And when your forehead rests it's like that third eye gets to just note the way everything you see and everything you've seen with that unseen eye, it's true.

Slowly, you'll make your way up to seated. You'll bring your shins together, and you probably know what's coming, right? This is a very exciting pose. You come forward and you sit on those toes. And I say this every time just because I'm inspired by this.

If I want to practice this pose I do it in front of the television, right, because then when I'm watching TV there's a huge benefit. The other benefit would be I won't watch TV cause I don't wanna do the toe pressure pose. So, either way, I win. So you come into this pose and you wait. Obviously if you get a lot of feedback from your feet, and you're clenching in your jaw, this is not helping you, so you can massage the toes wide and come slightly up til you find like a happy toe pressure pose.

And then slowly just play with lowering and rising. And this is a pose that regardless of what you think, it is such a great feeling for your feet. And the more you practice it, the more the feet really open. They open, and they have this real awareness that they do want this, so this is love for your feet, even if in your mind, there's another story going on. So, we'll do a pose that I have no idea what the Sanskrit name is.

I do remember it from my roller skating days which were many, uh, shoot the duck. You will extend the right leg and stay on the toes of the left foot, now if that is a lot for you and you think, wow, I'm done, I don't want to do anymore, then you'll just stay there. But remember we talked about courage and that takes bravery so you'll lift the leg and you'll squeeze the inner thighs and you can either stay there, or we'll see. Let's see, could I lift my right hand, oh I can, but I'm shaky. And then to the left, not so happy, so I lower my right and lift my left, and then if you've had enough the heel goes back down, if not, you play.

And I notice that my legs kind of compass when I do that, so I'll take the right leg back, knowing that it's very enthusiastic about the fact that it's gonna happen again, so, hands back, left leg forward. Right knee comes up and then you either stay with the heel down, it's still super beneficial, or you rise. And I do think it's worth attempting lifting one arm, breathe, and then the other. Right, and the whole balance is just fun. So you're just playing on your mat anyway, it's like a little playground.

You lift both, right OK, so this is my side that I have the illusion of more stability. And then you sit just one more time on the toes, and this time, you might go, OK, it's a little more lovely. It's not quite like desert, but, it serves a purpose. And then very slowly the hands will come forward and you will shoot both feet forward, and sit onto your bottom. If navasana isn't comfortable for you, you can avoid this part, right, if you have tailbone issue, or you can pad it.

So, first step would just be holding forearms, elbows and hugging it in and getting a little bit long in the torso even though the navel is kind of buried into the front of the spine. You'll inhale extend and then exhale bend. Inhale extend, and bend one more time, inhale extend, when you trust that, you can hold the thighs, recline the shoulders, maybe point the toes, and extend the arms. And then breathe here, right, and if that does feel freeing for you, you can lower the legs and just play, tone the belly and then lift. Let's do two more.

Lower, and lift. One more, inhaling, exhaling, pull it in, hug it in. Right, you just always want to snuggle yourself after those core, and then slowly, gently, extend the left leg, keep hugging in the right, and then externally rotate that right thigh so you're in like a seated tree, we call this janu sirsasana, you inhale, lift the torso, the left ribs will slide back ever so slightly, right ribs slide forward, and then you'll grab for a calf, shin, ankle, maybe the bottom of the foot, knowing that where you land in the pose does not matter. Breathe. What matters is that your sensations are heightened and you feel something.

So since it is a toe-themed practice and a foot-themed practice, you could massage the foot if the hands are there, just getting into wriggling in the toes. And then folding. Very slowly, you come up. I like to take my right hand outside my right knee and just fold the knee in that way, the thigh does what it's supposed to do. And then you'll hug the knees in again and you'll think, oh, is there another navasana?

Yes, there is, what a gift. Lift the legs when you inhale and then bend them when you exhale. Inhale lift. Exhale bend. One more, inhale lift.

Extend the arms if that excites you and this time, what if the arms rose just a little, and lower. Inhale, and I can feel a little shake, that's always exciting. Inhale and then exhale. And then as the right leg lowers, hug the left shin in, externally rotate, and align the right hip, knee, and ankle. That's this variation, there are other variations of janu sirasana but that's what I'm asking for this one.

So sit up tall, twist the right ribs back just a little, left ribs forward. And then fold. And as you fold, your right leg is active. Many people think seated poses are for beginners, I always think seated poses are for seasoned practitioners because the mind tends to wander. It takes a lot of dedication and concentration to be in the forward fold and not in a list-making state.

Inhale come up. This time you can keep the left knee bent, you'll slide the right knee in and you will come into baddha konasana. So if you're feeling any sensations that are intense in your low back you can slide the heels a little bit further away in your baddha konasana. That just gives the low back permission to release. If that's not an issue for you just slide those heels into where they're comfortable.

Take your index and middle finger and pull the big toes toward ya. Inhale lift chest and exhale fold. And as you fold, again, it's not like you're trying to sniff your toes, right? That's not the goal, the goal is to feel something. So if you're rounded, sniffing your toes and you don't feel anything, my suggestion is that you back your way out and see about coming in with more of a natural spine, right, curves of the spine and length and then feeling something, oh, yeah, that keeps my attention and that's the point, right, to keep the attention, not to bury my nose in my feet which may or may not be something you're into.

And when the sensation's lessened, press the feet together more, feel for the outer part of the pelvis where the thigh bones insert becoming a little bit more active. And then inhale come up. Now when the knees come together this time, you'll thread the fingers through the toes. So it might just be like your fingernails peek through, maybe, maybe your toes are already ready for your toes to get into that crease of the knuckles. Mine don't seem to be right now and I'm not into forcing it.

So, I'll slide, and you will slide your feet away as far as they go, they can be knees bent, they can be extended, and then you're just gettin' into the toes and stretching the fascia. Right, that goes underneath the skin under the bottom of the foot and then you fold, right, and as you fold, if you feel like you're being a little bit greedy, back off, bend the knees. If not, just fold into that place where your nervous system feels like, ah, this is pacifying. Actually, my feet are freeing up space and I'm enjoying this. And then slowly you inhale come up.

You slide the knees in, and once again, you're gonna feel like you're on that lazy Susan and you'll twist yourself around, or at least I will, and the block, if it's close, bring it even closer. Slowly, gently recline on to your back. When you recline on your back, and your body meets the floor and the earth, just let yourself have a moment, maybe wriggle the shoulder blades in, slide the heels in to just gently nudge the fingertips, and then palms up. So, tilt the pelvis gently, undulating it so the pubic bone guides the tailbone of the sacrum and the lumbar and the thoracic. And you roll the shoulders in.

If that's not how you label your spine, that's fine, you just lift up from the bottom to the middle to your highest point and you breathe. You feel the waterfall of the breath cascading in. Right, you can have your hands down, up, you can wiggle them so they interlace, right, and you look for the space underneath the forearms to be sealed if that's available. If it's not available, you can just let 'em go. And then gently, slowly, come down, resting from the top through the middle to the low back.

So if that felt fair, felt like a lot for you, you can bring your knees together and just rest. If not, you will grab hold of your block with one hand, take an inhale to prepare and then exhale slowly, mindfully, work your way back up. When you get up, you can take the block on the tall, the middle, or the lowest. I like the middle, I think it's a happy place for my sacrum and then roll the shoulders in and lift one knee in. If that scares you, probably lower that foot and lift the other one.

And then lower it and just be there. If you want more, you bring the knees in and then the feet up. Flex the feet, I had to wriggle my pelvis down but I know I'm not gonna fall, so that was safe for me. And then just let the return of the energy come back into you. So you can close your eyes and breathe and bask in all of your efforts.

Right, letting the breath hydrate tissue. So an alternative to this pose would be to go to the wall and place your legs up the wall for those of you who don't wanna lift your pelvis on to a block. And some people like to stay here for two minutes, five minutes, we'll stay here for five more rounds of breath. So remember when coming down, you bend your knees. You're not in a rush to get off the block.

First you land your feet, very important step, and then you remove the block. Then you will gently land the pelvis. I like to hug the knees in just for a moment. Right, meeting my thighs toward my ribs. And then your feet will come down, arms will go to the side like a T.

Lift your pelvis up and move your pelvis just a little left-of-center. And then the knees'll come up and they will go over to the right. If that's a lot for you, just back off. If it's not enough you can give your left thigh a little bit of an assist. And then the arms reach and then you can take your gaze to the left.

Come back through center, gaze skyward, move the hips now to the right, knees to the left. Again, make the pose comfortable for you. And look over the right shoulder. The palms can be down or up, whatever you prefer. Come back through center, hands down by your sides, your pelvis might need to be more neutralized, hug those knees in.

As you hug the knees in you can just kind of rock side to side, maybe around in a circle, sometimes the base of the spine needs a little more love than you think. And then take a happy baby. So in your happy baby kind of just let it feel like the water in the body, the stream, move side to side. Then bring the legs together. If there's one more pose that you really gotta do, obviously you do that right now.

For me, I'm gonna let savasana do me and get myself comfortable. Legs long, palms of the hands wide, I lift the shoulder blades in, let 'em just receive my lungs and my heart and close the eyes. You can always stay here as long as you like. The breath becomes a little more generous, in through the nose, possibly out through the mouth, stretching the face, maybe the tongue, wah. Wiggling fingers and toes, wiggling wrists and ankles.

And then stretching the hands over the head, either grabbing for an elbow or reaching really long. Hug your knees into your chest and then slowly come up to seated. Comfortable seat. Hands heart center in prayer. Sealing the practice with one ohm.

Exhale the breath out, inhale. Ohm. May we have deep gratitude for our feet and the way we land on the earth. Namaste.


Shelley K
1 person likes this.
This was a great practice. My feet do so much for me and I often neglect them. Thank you and thanks for always starting with a meditation. I really enjoy your practices.
Rebecca Urban
Thanks Shelley, may your feet continue to be grounded and spread the love to the toes!
Aniuska A
1 person likes this.
Thank you Rebecca! It feels amazing, earth and water :)
Robin J
loveLove love love your practice robin
Robin J
1 person likes this.
I am so grateful thank you
Robin J
Feet happiness thanks bex!
Robin J
Love love love
Robin J
i forget how much i love this practice
Suzanne L
1 person likes this.
Hi Bex,  I repeated this practice and this time during Shoot the  Duck I was able to life a leg and one arm by using two blocks.  Hoping to attend a class or two when there the last week of September.  Still "awakening!"
Rebecca Urban
Suzanne L you are so amazing! keep it up...big hug

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