Feet are Magic!
Feet. Feet are the unsung heroes of our bodies (well, that and the muscle serratus anterior, but that's another blog). We walk thousands of steps on them every day. We shove them into containers. Sometimes those containers are ill-fitted or just ill-suited for our feet. If our feet could speak, they would likely cheer whenever we let them out of our shoes and boots.
In the yoga practice, our feet are really important. They are the foundation of all our standing poses so it would follow that we should really pay attention to them when we move through our asana practice. I want to write about one thing specifically. Where we put our weight when we are in Tadasana, mountain pose. Where do we place our weight so we can stand with ease? More forward? At the center? Closer to the heels? I think most people would say at the center of the foot. To which I would respond, "Which center?"
I think many people think of the visual center of the foot when this cue is used. I would say we want to be over our skeletal center. In other words, where on the foot does our skeletal weight fall when we stand? I don't think it's at the visual center of the foot but a little bit behind that. Where the arch and heel meet. Try this…
—Take off your socks and stand in Tadasana. Notice where your habitually put your weight. Now, take a seat on a chair or stool.
—Cross your ankle over your knee.
—With your finger, draw a line from your inner ankle bone (actually your tibial malleolus) towards the bottom of the foot. Watch how that line traces either right across or very near to that heel/arch line.
—Continue tracing that line around so it connects to the outer ankle bone, the fibial malleolus. It basically makes a big "U" from ankle to ankle.
—Take your hand, make a U-shape with your hand and fit the webbing on the arch/heel line. Your thumb and index finger should pretty much end up pointing at the two ankle bones.
It seems to me that THAT is where the weight should be centered. That is spot where our skeletal weight falls in our feet. But don't take my word for it, try it out!
—Stand up and come to your habitual Tadasana. Now, move your weight a bit and see if you can find that arch/heel line. Stay here for at least a dozen breaths, maybe a full two minutes. How does it feel? Different? More grounded? More easeful. Maybe the bones feel more “stacked”? How can this inform other postures?
Play with it and see where your sweet spot is!