Bend It Like Bex Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 3

Sole Contact: Feet First

45 min - Practice
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Can you feel the quality of your connection with earth? We begin with a 5 minute seated mediation to find our center. Bex then guides us through a healing and loving practice of giving care to our feet, our primary contact point with the earth. We flow into a standing posture sequence, cool and calm with seated postures, and refresh with a heart opener. You will feel tuned in and supported.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block

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Welcome, I'm Bex, and this'll be a practice focused on feet, freedom, and your soles' connection. You might need a Pranayama cushion or a rolled-up blanket to elevate your pelvis above your knees. I like to use a block in my practice, so if you have a block, or a tall water bottle, you can use that. And if your knee is sensitive when it comes on the mat, have a blanket close. So a comfortable, seated position please.

Hands either in my favorite mudra, or whatever works for you. Sitting nice and tall, seal your eyelids. So your eyes close, and as that happens, you enhance the breath to allow the river and the current within you to feel present. And so, today when you sit, just notice the way you're feeling. If the practice is in the morning, if you're feeling awake.

If you're practicing at the end of the day, if you're feeling frazzled. All of those sensations are real. And bring your attention back to your breath so that you can ride that wave deeply into a space that grounds and protects you in this moment. So you're using the breath to rinse and wash through anything that's not serving you. You're finding those spaces that might be slightly more tense than they need to, and asking them to soften and engage in the conversation of the breath within the body.

And then you just keep coming into that space where you remember your longest, your most intimate relationship, and that's the one with yourself. So in the silence, you note how the stillness supports you. You also remember that through that space that you feel rooted, you rise, like the crown of the head is being asked to find that space that allows you to return to that illuminated quality that is you. And so it's a brief sit, and I always believe that the seated meditation practice is the heart of the practice. The asana well wonderful, energetic, this is the space that you can come home to in any moment.

So in these moments, you just note the way you remember the truth of the love that resides in your heart. So your hands come to your heart center, in Prayer, and you pick an intention for the practice, it could be a dedication, a mantra, even a motivation for you. If you're having a hard time picking one, bring your attention deeply to that source of your feet and being open to allowing your feet to feel more connected. And then as your chin comes to your chest, you note the way this practice is an offering. So you take deep reverence in it.

Slowly your eyes open. And as your eyes open, you'll bring your attention to your feet. So if you're anything like me, I know that my feet don't get enough attention. Right, they might go in pretty shoes, but I don't spend enough time rubbing them, and I have yet to find someone who'll rub them all the time for me. So, in this practice, we'll be focusing on giving your feet a little tender love.

So go ahead and extend your feet, and if you wanna stay on your Pranayama cushion or remove it, that's fine with me. You'll slide your right foot in, and you'll take your left hand and you'll thread your fingers through your toes. So if you've ever had those little spacers put in between your feet, that's what you're goin' for right now. And your fingertips don't have to meet that little insertion point between the toes, and they might, there might be a place where they're way high up where you can barely shove them in, but you're just working to do the best you can, to be your best at wherever it is that you show up. And then you might come into the space and go, oh, this is very interesting.

So your right hand can support the ankle, and maybe massage the foot if that's exciting for you. If it's not exciting, you're just playing with separating the toes and beginning to realign yourself with your breath. And so I remind you in this practice, the lips are softly together and the breath is mainly coming in and out through the nose. So we'll be here for about 10 rounds of breath. If you're a really fast breather, it's gonna be like 18.

If you're pretty slow, maybe it's eight. But I'm just using my breath to kind of lubricate and hydrate within my tissue and also saying to my feet, what's goin' on, how you doin'? So just kinda checkin' in. And if there's any area that's a little bit more tender than another area, be gentle. It's all a suggestion, and you're just kind of in that play of what's happening in your feet.

(breathing) And then slowly, mindfully, you'll slide the fingers out of the toes, and when that happens, we'll transition into toe pressure pose, so you'll come onto seated with your toes spreading, and when you sit down, you'll note the way your right foot feels and the way your left foot feels. So it's a great opportunity to close your eyes and to really just breathe and feel. (breathing) For me, I notice that my right foot feels a little bit more liberated than my left, so I'm gonna do the other side. Coming back to seated, extending now the right leg, sliding the left foot in, and weaving the fingers through. And I have no expectation of this foot feeling like my other one, 'cause I know it doesn't.

So I just come back to that place and harness my breath, doing the best I can to keep my face nice and soft and attractive so that I know that I'm not clenching in my jaw, my tongue. And I might note the way on this side, my second toe is a little bit more resistant than the others. So maybe a little more rubbing with my thumb, a little coaxing, even attempting to kind of allow my feet to know that my hands do have a relationship with them, and that the more that I can open my feet, the more I can feel like when I'm walking without shoes my feet are just massaging the earth and the earth is just supporting my feet. So that current, and that deep dialogue happens as well. (breathing) And then again, slowly, taking my time, I'll slide my fingers out.

And I'll come back into that wonderful pose of sitting on the toes, and if this isn't a practice that you have, it's probably more miserable than delightful, and so, I call this pose, actually, TV-Watching Pose. And the reason I call this that is because I make a commitment to, if I'm gonna watch TV, sitting in this pose. And then I know, if I'm not gonna sit in this pose, I'm not gonna watch TV. So, I'll breathe here and notice how massaging both feet in that play there's a little more joy in my soles. And then slowly transition onto all fours.

So, with the theme of the feet, we're gonna combine the all four movement to flexing and pointing the toes, so when you're in extension, when you're nice and long, and the navel's tethered to the spine, the feet will be flexed, and then when you exhale, you will point the feet, round the back, relax the shoulders away from the ears. So you release the sense of rushing by spreading the fingers, rooting the hands, inhaling, flexing the feet, feeling a lift through the sit bones, sacrum, low back, middle back, all the way up. And then on your exhalation, tops of the feet grounding, rippling through. So just take a handful of rounds, three or four, on your own, and if you find you're swiveling your pelvis or shimmying to the right and the left appreciate that. (breathing) Take your time and move back into Child's Pose, so feet together, knees wide, arms extended.

As you come into Balasan, the Pose of the Child, note that you can take this shape at any time in any practice. How the safest place to come to your knees is on your mat. It's not a competitive practice. Returning to all fours, we'll add on here. You will extend your right arm and your left leg, threading that navel into the front of the spine, inhaling, and then exhale slowly, gently, put the left shin and the right palm down.

Continuing with an inhale, and the foot is flexed, and then exhale, release. Again, inhaling. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

Last round. Inhale, play with the breath, see if you can lengthen it. And then exhale. And then inhale. So there's a steadiness and an ease.

And then slowly you release. Sit once again in Child's Pose and just kinda chew on that for a moment, just breathe, and see what adding on felt like. And note the way that your heels and your sit bones come together. And maybe wiggle your fingers, and wiggle your toes. Just see what's happening.

And then very slowly come up to seated on your shins, and your hips and your heels together you'll slide the hands back, and begin to bend the elbows towards each other, and lift the shins. So the shins will lift, the chest will lift, and maybe the head will fall. And then slowly you'll come forward again. This time onto all fours. The left knee will remain bent and the right hand will come back and grab for the left foot.

And if that's available and accessible, you grab it. If it's not, it's not a big deal, you may even choose to look to the right. And then gently release. When you come down now, exhale round your back, inhale arch, and then keep the right knee bent, the left arm back, point the toes, grab the foot. A little bit of a lift, you may wanna find the inner lining of the legs magnetizing.

And then breathe. And release. Very slowly, very gently work your way back to Downward-Facing Dog. Pedal the feet, and you notice as you pedal that you're anchored in your hands. And you bring your attention right back to your feet and the floor.

And that connection there. And then very slowly, you walk your feet to your hands, as many steps as you like. Gentle bend in the knees, Uttanasana, grabbing for an opposite elbow. Slowly let the hands drag to the mat, the knees bend so there's a supple quality in the back of the hamstrings. Chin to the chest and roll up, super slow, like the front body is just getting absorbed into the back body.

When you get all the way up, gently bring the hands to the heart center in Prayer. Great time to re-infuse your intention, your dedication. Your mantra. Motivation. So the feet can either be hip-distance apart, or you can bring the toes together.

We're gonna do what I call Tiptoed Tadasan. So your hands will stay at your heart center in Prayer, and you will just inhale up onto your tiptoes and then exhale, lower all the way down. See if you can keep a nice little breath through the back body, inhaling up onto the tiptoes, resist the temptation to thrust or tuck in the pelvis. And then exhale, release. Final one inhale come up, up, up.

And then exhale slowly lower down. And there'll be some residual sensations, so just see if you can enjoy that. Inhaling your arms will come all the way up, look to the thumbs if that pleases you. Exhale, microbend the knees, fold forward and down. Inhale, lift your chest, and then exhale your right leg back, knee to the mat, top of the foot to the floor, inhaling your arms come up.

On your exhalation, take your hands to the floor, take you left leg back, hold steady in the Plank here, and then slowly, you can lower your knees if you need to, lower all the way down to the floor. Shrug the shoulders up to the ears, and lift and roll the thighbones in. And then inhale and lift for a very gentle, very low Cobra. And then exhale and slowly release. If you like, you can come onto your left ear, if not, your forehead can rest on the mat.

And then again, inhale, shrug shoulders, roll them down the back, little bit of a lift. Exhale, release. Push back through Child's Pose. If you want a little more vigor, you can reverse to the Plank. And then, Downward-Facing Dog.

So in the Dog, just take a gaze at the hands, not obsessed with how they're laid down but enough where they feel like they're very married to the mat. Heel-toe the feet together. On an inhalation, lift the right leg. Bring the knee to the nose when you exhale. And then inhale, rise.

Exhale, round the back, point the toes, and then inhale, rise. Final one. Knee to the nose, rise, big step with the right foot, see if you can have a quiet landing. Left knee down, top of the foot down, inhale, the arms come up. And then exhale, the hands to the floor, back foot forward.

Inhale, lift the chest. And then exhale, fold. Much bend in the knees as you need, rippling up, inhale, reaching all the way up, stretch up. Continue the flow by folding forward and down. Inhale, our Uttanasan.

Exhale, that left leg back, knee to the floor, top of the foot down, place the right hand in the crease of the hip and just take an easy twist. So this would be an opportunity for me to use my favorite accessory, always in style, the block. Put the hand underneath, I mean the block underneath my left hand, and gently twisting to the right. Sometimes I like to play with just circling the arms around and letting the pelvis descend, three times, I'm going in the other direction. And then I release.

Put the block to the side, find my way into the Plank, inhaling, and you will slowly lower all the way down. Inhale, lift the chest, this time just one, a little Cobra. Exhale, release, so you have the opportunity for a Child's Pose, or you can reverse the Plank with the knees down, or reversing the Plank without the knees, and then Downward-Facing Dog. Feet together, you'll slowly lift the left leg, maybe flex it, point the toes round the back, knee to the nose, and then lift. Point the toes, round the back, knee to the nose, and then lift, see if you can have a soft face again.

Round the back, knee to the nose, rising the leg, place the left foot on the floor, lower the knee to the mat, top of the foot down, and then grab the block, place it underneath the right hand, if you don't need the block, then don't use it, hand on the hip, reach that left arm up so you gaze and you can follow the thumb, if you like, or you can just keep the drishti, the focal point, the tip of the nose. And maybe you go both ways, and you find that you're just allowing again that slide to happen. Finally placing the left hand down, step the right food forward, inhale, lift the chest, and then exhale, fold into Uttanasan. Inhale, rippling, come all the way up, hands at the heart center in Prayer. So you will extend your right arm and your left arm will stay right down by your side for a gentle side bend.

So the arm'll come down and you'll slowly lean over to the left. I love side bending. I love it because there aren't that many opportunities during the day to side bend. So just breathe. You're not gonna be in the market reaching for bananas this way.

But I might. And then, leaning. Inhale, come up. Switch sides, there's the belly and the back coming together, not necessarily just tucking under, find that place where they're happy relationship. They work together, so the right arm presses into the right thigh, left arm back, ears back, lean over.

Breathe. (breathing) Inhale, come all the way up, both hands down by your sides. Bending your knees, you'll take Utkatasana, seat back, inhale your arms up. Slowly come onto your tiptoes, slide your arms back, baby fingers towards each other so your palms face the floor and then the arms come forward, inhale. It's okay if you missed it, you have a couple more rounds.

Arms back, heels rise, seat down. And then inhale, the arms come up. So it's Utkatasana to I believe Drinking Bird. The arms come back, you come onto your tiptoes, you squeeze, and then slowly the heels come down, inhale the arms up. Exhale, fold forward and down.

Take a deep breath here, inhale, lengthen. Right leg back, and then the left leg back. You can, if you like, be in Plank for five breaths, inhaling or exhaling, or you could find your way into Child's Pose. (breathing) Just gives you a nice little deepening of that sense of length. And then Downward-Facing Dog.

So step the right foot forward, please, and come into Warrior II, Virabhadrasana II. So in that space, you're descending the pelvis, working that front thighbone toward horizontal, shinbones towards vertical. And the arms will come out. I always check out my back arm because I know it has a mind of its own. And then you just steady and ride the breath.

See if the toes can be less grippy and more lengthen. And then gently place the left hand down the left thigh, and you will reverse the Warrior. So that side bend that you just took might support this by looking down at your left ankle. If you like, you can look up at the thumb or just let your head be in neutral. Then inhale, come up, windmill the arms down again, you'll settle yourself here into the Plank.

Or you can lower all the way down and feel invigorated by a Low Cobra. Gently, slowly release. Press back into Downward-Facing Dog. Step the left foot forward, right heel in, again, finding that space where the shoulders stack over the pelvis, and the knee tracks over the ankle. I look back, for me, at my right arm, and then deepen the breath.

Reversing the Warrior and finding that space where my head and my neck can feel joy in the pose. Freedom. And then the arms come down. Plank Pose, you can move into Child's Pose or Downward-Facing Dog immediately, or just hold the Plank. And then Down Dog.

Right foot steps, left heel in, you'll transition through Warrior II and then slowly straighten the front leg. You might wanna shore up the stance so that you can feel the power in your legs. Extending through your arms, little microbend in the knee if you need it, especially if you feel a little clunk when you go to straighten your leg, I always like a little microbend, and then sliding into Trikonasana. The block could go on the outside or the inside, and if you happen to be using your water bottle, it's the same thing. And then very gently, you reach up, you stretch up.

So, when you're here and you're breathing, feel yourself recruiting the muscles in the legs, and then feel a little bit more of those five long lines of energy. Knowing that wherever you are in the shape, just be your best, most authentic expression of it. So if you're using the block, take it with you when you come up, inhale, 'cause we're simply gonna do something really daring and swivel on our heels and go to the other side. So extend your arms, and then very slowly, slide into Triangle on this side. And you note the way you breathe, exhaling on the way down, and make certain as you're looking up, forward, or down to the floor, that you feel that connection from the feet, that pulse, almost, of the earth through you, and you breathe here, and reach.

(breathing) On your next inhalation, bend the left knee, and inhale, come into Warrior II here. So in that transitional Warrior this time, just note the way the outer parameter of both your feet can be sealed. And then very slowly, you will straighten the left leg and parallel your feet. Hands will go to your hips, and look down at those toes, make sure they're aligned, inhale, lift the chest. Exhale, fold forward and down.

If you have the block, you can put it in between your legs and you can just use it for your elbows to rest on. If that doesn't please you, you can be on your hands, and you can use the block to rest your head here. For separate leg stretching, tipping the weight slightly forward, shoulders rise up, deepening the quality of your breath here. (breathing) Inhale, lift your chest. Remove the block, place it at the top of the mat, pivot on the right heel and the left toes.

Inhale to the Plank, and then exhale slowly back, Downward-Facing Dog. Take your time here to breathe, maybe a little bend in the knees, kinda wriggle out anything that needs to be wriggled out. Let the head and the neck release. And then you can either hop your feet to your hands or you can just walk your feet to your hands and take Uttanasan. After enjoying these moments in Uttanasana, place your hands on the mat, carefully, mindfully come to seated for Staff Pose, Dandasan.

You sit up very tall through the spine, hands by your sides, feet flexed. I think this is a pose that gets very discounted. People think nothing is happening. Something's happening. And then in a moment when I breathe deeper, everything's happening.

And then maybe there's a moment where nothing's happening. Then, slide your hands under your right knee for Janu Sirsasan. So you'll slide the heel in of the right, it'll come right up and into the left inner thigh, and getting yourself upright here. If you need a little lift, this is where your blanket or your Pranayama cushion could come in. You will twist over the left thigh, and inhale, and fold.

Not so concerned with how your hands go, how far. If you need more, this is where the block can support you in going beyond the foot. If you're just at the knee, that's perfect, you just fold there. If you feel nothing when you're sniffing your knee, you lengthen and you just find the place where you're feeling a little bit of that something, a little bit of that nothing, and maybe all of that everything. (breathing) Inhale, slowly come up.

I like to assist the outer part of my right leg when I come out of it, just so that I'm mindful and respectful of my knee, and then slide it out. And then I slide the left knee in, heel there, sitting really up tall, inhaling, and exhaling, folding into Janu Sirsasan. Any variation that excites you, that you find inspiring. (breathing) You also might note the way these forward folds support you in going inward, and allowing that natural essence to just appear that is you. And then slowly sit up, and this time, all you need to do is slide your right knee in and bring your feet together, for Baddha Konasana.

So if your knees are up really high, you have several options. One is just slide those feet out. Make space, push the feet together, or elevate your pelvis. And since we're giving a lot of love to our feet, if you wanna bonus, you can come back to that space where you thread the fingers through, this time on the outside, I have an unruly second toe, so I have to be mindful of that. And then, threading it through, weaving and doing the other side.

I come back into that space, and I go, oh, this is where it's at. And then I could sit up tall, feel the breath here, or begin to hinge and fold forward. (breathing) Inhale, coming all the way up. Super grateful that my body works, that I'm making time for my yoga today, I turn, and hopefully that's how you feel as well. So you'll slide your right ankle over your left thigh, flexing the foot and then sliding the left heel in.

And you wanna be really, really mindful. Right now. And you flex that right foot. So the reason is is that often we punish the knee for what the hip is not yet ready for. The hip rotates, the knee just bends and extends, and it's not fun if the knee rotates.

So in this shape, when you flex the foot, you've had so much awareness there, you make sure there's no creases around the ankle. Those creases often indicate torque on the knee, so we're really just breathing here in a loving way and saying to the rotators, you can release, you can let go. Totally fine, you probably don't need that stuff anymore. And then check in with the shoulders as well. And then slide and release it out.

I like to shake in between the sides. I learned that from an Iyengar teacher, so I know it must be yoga. Then gently take the left foot across the right thigh, and slide the right heel in. Lift your chest, flex your foot, and breathe. And this is just a reminder, if this shape right now, this Figure 4 is really difficult for you, but you love Pigeon, next time you approach Pigeon, just take your time and see if you're being in integrity with that length and that breath, and not forcing.

There's no need to force anything in yoga. It's all will be revealed when it's ready. So again, I check in with my shoulders, 'cause I see 'em creepin' up, I feel 'em, and you might wanna do that as well, and you just breathe. (breathing) And I always have a mantra in these shapes to just say, let go, let go, let go. Coming out of the pose, shake the legs out.

Swiveling onto my back now, I will gently slide my heels in, and as I'm in that space there, I begin to just close my eyes and check in. How are my feet, how is my connection with Earth? And then I turn the palms of my hands up in a receptive fashion for Setu Bandhasana, Half Bridge, sliding the heels in, and then in this bridge I'm gonna be really sneaky. I'm gonna see if I can slowly lift my pelvis. So you see if you can do that.

Gently lifting, lifting, lifting, not shoving, breathing, and at my highest point, at your highest point, just see about rolling the shoulder blades together and breathing. (breathing) Slowly, gently, coming down. And then you will come up one more time, keeping your nose, your navel, and your pubic bone aligned. So resist the temptation to turn the head here, and breathe your way right back up. (breathing) This time when I come down, when you come down, take your hips to the right, as they land, take your arms into a T, and then just gently let your knees go to the left.

You can roll your gaze to look over the right shoulder. And then, slowly come back through center, place the feet on the mat, pick the hips up, move them to the left, and the knees will go to the right, the gaze can be to the ceiling or over to the left, taking in and out the breath. (breathing) Up through center, feet down, find that place where the hips feel like they're centered for you, and then one Happy Baby, I'm gonna hold onto those feet and maybe rub 'em a little. I always remember that in this pose, the Happy Baby, a baby's really happy at this moment in time when they find their feet. When they realize, "Oh my God, those aren't just "things dangling, they're part of me." So, just kinda rub those feet out, so grateful that they carry you around all day.

They keep you connected. And then just gently let your feet slide along the floor, wiggling the big toes to touch and walk those heels nice and wide away and then just let the legs flop out, do the same thing with the shoulders. Couple breaths and close your eyes. As you bring your attention back to your breath, you might notice the way that calm has come over you, and you might feel inspired to just stay here longer. If that's true for you, stay.

If not, wiggle the fingers and the toes. Wriggle the wrists and the ankles. Keep the eyes closed with that inward gaze, and then gently stretch the arms over the head. You roll to the right side, so when you roll to the right, you just be still there. You note that you're rolling to the right 'cause your heart resides left of center, and this is just a little less pressure on that heart.

And then slowly you press into the floor, you make your way up to seated, whatever shape is the most comfortable for you. Hands come back into the heart center at Prayer. Complete by joining our voices one round of om. Inhale. Om.

Looking in and down at your heart. This reservoir filled with an abundance of love, of light, kindness, and compassion. When you're in that place, and I am in that place, we are all the same. Namaste.

Comments

2 people like this.
Loved this class! My little toes are so grateful for the extra attention they received. Great way to start the day feeling supported.
1 person likes this.
What a wonderful way to start a Sunday morning after a week of stuffing myself into pretty shoes and pounding it out in spin class.
Thanks Bex. xoxo
1 person likes this.
Thanks for the new foot technique! An hour later I can still enjoy spreading my toes!
1 person likes this.
I like the modified 4 shape. I've always done that supine. You've also inspired me to look up and refresh my memory of all the toe spreading benefits! I'll be doing this practice daily this week to see where flexibility increases. Thanks!
Thanks for all the feedback. This is one of my favorite practices for "foot freedom and grounding." Love up those toes my friends.
1 person likes this.
I really like this class, Bex. Thanks for being on Yogaanytime just for me!
Love this practice
Feet happiness
Such an invigorating practice
Thanks Rebecca
My feet are grateful!
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