Bone Spurs

I had a question from another teacher asking “I have a student who has a heel spur on her right foot and when doing warrior I & II and south-side stretch feels pain into her achilles. Can you advise how to offer alternatives for relief?”

I’m assuming that your student experiences pain in her rear foot. Planting the rear foot during these postures can over-strain the plantar fascia and achilles tendon. You can modify this by coming up on the ball of the back foot (base roots of the toes). While the back heel is no longer “pressing” against the floor, it is still engaged.

You can help her to engage the inner and outer edge of her back heel by cupping her heel and asking her to press into your hands. She can also experiment with pressing the fleshy part of her heel against a wall. Using the wall in this way prevents the achilles from being over stretched and creates a stable base of support.

Tight Feet

I came across a curious question today – “what is the symbolic meaning of tight feet”? This individual was also looking for a modification to Janu Sirsasana C.

In my experience, tight feet are unable to receive support from the earth. This tight holding blocks the feminine, magnetic, “earth” energy (which provides a sense of grounding) from flowing up and enlivening your legs and core. Your lower body is associated with the root chakra located at the base of your spine. Energy in this centre relates to physical survival and represents your connection with the earth and the magnetic essence.

Modification for Janu C (care of David Swenson): With grounding leg extended in front, “sit up straight and rotate the (bent knee) foot in a preparatory phase without placing it on the floor. If this is too extreme then repeat Janu Sirsasana A or B”.

Stretching Hamstrings

A great way to stretch your hamstrings safely and avoid your belly at the same time is in a supine or reclined position. Lay on your back with your left leg stretched out long on the floor and your right leg straight up toward the ceiling.

Place a strap around the ball of you right foot. With your arms straight and your shoulders coming down toward the floor slowly bring your leg toward your chest.

Work your hands up the the strap as your leg gets closer to your torso so that you can keep your arms straight and your shoulders relaxed.

If you find that your belly is inhibiting your ability to bring your leg in close focus on bringing it along the side of your body.

Encourage your lower belly to sink into the floor as your leg comes in to your chest creating a hollow belly and more space to stretch your hamstrings.

Once you have reached your maximum press the sitting bone on your right leg down into the floor to increase the length in the right leg a bit more. Switch sides after several deep breaths.