When we think about an efficient, effortless and sustainable posture, the process has to begin with the soles of our feet. We must first learn to feel a stable base and connection with the ground through a responsive and flexible foot if we want to feel upright, secure and move effortlessly – at any age… As Joanne Elphinston simply puts it: we need a foot to stand on – (in order to be stable and maximise movement.)
As we practise, we think about the foot needing to be as soft as possible, and there needs to be a “springiness” in the knees – no rigidity, just softness. Take off your shoes and let your feet “melt” into the floor, lengthening through the toes. Feel your weight distributed evenly throughout the soles and then, with both feet on the floor, feel the sensation of shifting your balance, maybe swaying from side to side, or imagining that you are standing on a compass: North, South, East, West. Take your body weight to all four points whilst maintaing soft, wide feet and soft knees.
Now, come to a place where your weight is centrally placed. Gently take one foot from the floor and notice the messages that the foot in contact with the floor relays to the brain. You are challenged, right? The ankle wobbles and makes its adjustments, so that the body can remain upright and stabilised…
I began to understand that walking barefoot each day, and experiencing the sensation of each season will enhance balance, spirituality and confidence. It fires up our sensory experience. The soles of our feet are ultra sensitive and can transmit a mass of information via our central nervous system, to assist our negotiation of terrain – we feel the ground as it pushes up against us.
It is extremely pleasant – an unexpected delight, whether I choose to walk barefoot on moss filled grass, or contoured stones that have absorbed the heat of the sun’s rays throughout the day. These repeated sensations will improve my ability to inhabit a challenging terrain. They will fine-tune my balance and the way that I carry my body in space. If I practise this daily in my life, as I age I will be more confident, discovering that it is quite ordinary for my body to move efficiently through all kinds of landscapes. That said, in a moment of unbounded romanticism whilst walking barefoot through a field carpeted in clover, I stood on a bumble bee as it went about its business… I’m a Sagittarian through and through, (sigh.)
Still, it’s another sensory experience.