#YOGA with the wonderful Rachel from @TricoCentre

I love yoga.

‎”I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings. My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together for unity and love.” ~ Gandhi 

Tonight I attended all level yoga class at Trico and as usual, it didn’t disappoint. My favourite instructor led us – Rachel. She’s incredibly patient, thorough and really takes the time to explain each pose so that people (like me) don’t injure themselves. Her encouragement never ceases and I can truthfully say I’ve never felt self-conscious or intimidated when she helps out.  She’s also ridiculously fit and always has good tips/advice.

We did some balancing and learned how to separate our toes to give us better posture. I can’t remember what she was calling it (I am terrible with yoga names) but basically you mentally envision your big toe moving away from your baby toe and finally (miraculously) some day it will happen (or so she says). I enjoyed tonights class because it wasn’t as vigorous as it sometimes can be and truth be told, I just didn’t have it in me (as I type this, my eyes are struggling to focus). Mind you, I do enjoy getting my sweat on at yoga, but tonight was not the night! I felt really strong when we did our chaturanga’s (which I did full ones). And in my research I learned about SUP Yoga – does anyone know anything about this? I guess it’s when you do Yoga on a paddle board. Check it out! 

Anyhow, I borrowed the below from Yoga Channel about spreading your toes – have a read, I feel like it’s going to help!

Why should you spread your toes?

  • Improved postural alignment; spreading your toes assists in lifting the arches of your feet. (To very briefly summarize,) this action lifts the ankle, the knee caps, and finally sends the energy upwards to properly support and symmetrically align the pelvis, spine, neck, and head. This is called pada bandha, one of the energy locks in yoga.
  • A smarter foundation; with “awakened” toes, they become smarter in detecting the subtle weight shifts in your body, thereby better abling to communicate to your brain and body in how to stabilize (Hello balancing postures!). And P.S. – Better communication also means less tripping over your feet/ ankle sprains (for you clumsy ones).

How do we spread our toes? 

  • Warm up by manually massaging your feet and wiggling your toes with your fingers. You can also roll your arches on a squash ball or tennis ball (or any ball really).
  • Use your fingers to separate the toes apart by placing them in between each one – this shows your unfamiliar brain what the action of abduction feels like. If you are really ambitious, you can also use toe separators.
  • In hero pose, lift your heels off the ground and hold for a nice stretch along the backs of your toes and feet.
  • Have a seat, extend your legs out in front of you and look at your toes. Look at each toe one at a time and attempt to abduct it. You’ll have to be patient – this will take a while to achieve. Doing this while watching TV, on your lap top, reading, etc may make it easier.
  • Standing tall, practice lifting your toes, and spreading them apart as wide as you can. Once again, take advantage of idle time (ie. Waiting for water to boil, food to be microwaved).
  • During your yoga practice, use mountain pose or equal standing pose to lift your toes, spread them wide, and set them on your mat.
  • Finally, you can incorporate this into other asanas – balancing, seated, even in arm balance. We could always use a little more pada bandha in our practice!

Another interesting fact is that you can actually BUY these things called “Yoga Toes” and they’re basically like the rubber things you use to separate your toes while putting nail polish on them. They basically train your toes to separate, without all the mental work. They run anywhere from $20 – 30 (so I’ve seen) OR you could just go to the drug store (as Rachel advised) and buy the toe separator from Sally Hansen.

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