Tuesday, 24 April 2018

YOGA FOR YOUR FEET & ANKLES

Our feet are so often overlooked & ignored until something goes wrong. However our feet really do deserve far more attention & I'm not referring to getting a pedicure!

Where would we be without our feet?  They carry us around throughout our day, they provide us with support as we go about our daily tasks & they are are our connection to the earth.  It's when we begin to walk as toddlers & that we begin to have a sense of ourselves as individuals. We begin to develop our own independence. In fact its the way we contact the earth through our feet that says a great deal about how we live our lives & relate to others.
I invite you to take a look at your feet.  Do your toes all cluster together? If so try separating your  toes & give them some independence. Start to stretch the skin between your toes by pushing your fingers in between them.  This also stimulates the sensory connections around the toes & it helps you to wake up your feet & to sensitise them.
Now I invite you to notice how much movement you have around your heel.  Try pulling your heel back & notice whether the heel bone itself will move in relation to the other bones at the centre of you foot.  Then press gently into the sole of your foot, massage it & rub along the length of your foot.  This will also help you to wake up your feet.  Try to pull your toes backwards, in the direction of your ankles.  If you have bunions pay particular attention to your big toe. Try to stretch it away from your other toes, turn it so that the nail of your big toe faces upwards rather than twisting towards the others.
Now notice how your feet feel.  Do they feel any more alive? Gently begin to stretch them by coming down on to all fours.  Tuck the toes of one foot under & gradually drag that foot backwards away from you, stretching out the toes, the sole of the foot & eventually create more length in the ankle & your Achilles tendon.
When you’ve done that, tuck your toes under & stretch the front of the ankle & the top of your foot. The front of the ankle often becomes quite tight & its movement as we age becomes more restricted. 

Stiff ankles are often the cause of falls

This area is related to our reflex reactions & when tight & stiff , it leads to a lack of balance & increases the potential for falls.  Its very important to keep our ankles soft & supple. Daily routines - even  stretching them out while in bed will help to maintain the flexibility of our very important shock absorber joints!
Now find a step, or use a foam block or a large heavy book & lean them against a wall.  Place your toes on the the edge & begin to gradually, sink the ball of your foot down on to the floor until your toes are bent up, & the rest of the foot is on the floor.  Put all your weight in to this leg.  If possible, now begin to gently bend your knee.  Try to create a strong stretch through your ankle, calf, Achilles & sole of your foot.  Softly bend & straighten a few times, being careful not to collapse the inner arch of your foot to the floor.
When you’ve done both sides, take a short walk around the room, just noticing any differences in your feet.  They may feel more awake, more sensitive, more grounded.

                             

For information about Elisa Williams West London yoga classes &  upcoming yoga retreats in Wales, India, Sicily & Turkey visit : www.elisawilliamsyoga.com


THE BENEFITS OF YOGA



Yoga is helping me to slow things down

The patience that yoga teaches has helped me to appreciate life, to be more present, to take things more slowly, to live one moment at a time. Yoga is a reminder to me that I’m not just a body,  nobody is just a body. We all have bodies but we are so much more than just that.

For an hour or so it quietens my over active brain


A massive benefit. Yoga helps me to notice my mind & to all the constant chitter chatter. Wherever my mind goes, I catch it. It wriggles away again & again & I catch it. It's like I'm trying to train a wayward puppy,  a constant game going on inside my skull.

I practice deep breathing.

My breath during my yoga practice helps to settle my mind. Deep breathing relieves my levels of stress & allows me to see my problems in perspective instead of being overwhelmed by them all the time.


It teaches me to be less competitive


With yoga, I'm learning to stop competing all the time & to keep my focus on my mat & my practice. I don't have to be the strongest, the bendiest, the best. I just have to show up for myself


It helps my body to feel better


Yoga’s taught me the value of feeling great physically not just trying to look good.  Its taught me the importance of what goes on inside my body & not to worry about the superficial, cosmetic stuff.

You too can reap the benefits of yoga join me at a yoga class in West London or on one of our upcoming retreats in India, Turkey, Sicily or Wales

Yoga classes and retreats with Elisa WIllams



WHY WE DO YOGA

How many people do you know that spend all the hours God sends each week striving to earn money, to build status, to feel a sense of accomplishment in their lives, bring up families, live in the perfect home? How many times have you yourself felt far too busy to exercise, practice yoga, spend time on your own personal health & mental wellbeing?  
I was guilty of exactly this. I was too busy, too stressed, too strapped for time. Working in a a demanding competitive environment in Central London,  then bringing up five kids, it was hardly a big surprise to find myself suffering constant pain from a chronically bad back & increasingly finding myself living under the dark cloud of depression.  I gradually began to read the writing that had been written on the wall for years. Despite earlier forays into various exercise regimes, pilates & yoga, I had never really appreciated that I needed these things not simply for physical reasons but for emotional ones. Not just for my sake but also for the other people in my life upon which my actions & mood were having an effect.

What is more important then happiness, health & peace of mind?

Slowly it began to dawn of me what my priorities were. I started to identify what was important to me & what wasn't. My own health, peace of mind & happiness, finding more time to simply be there for others, had not been high on this list for a very long time. Yes of course I had been bringing up my children, it was exhausting. But I realised that I couldn't ever truly be there for them & for others when I couldn't even be fully there for myself.


I realised & not before time that it was tremendously important for me to re-evaluate my priorities. I began to find the time to cultivate my mind & body, to practice self-care, in other words to simply turn up for myself & my mental & physical wellbeing. For so long I had been ignoring myself.

Yoga helps us to work on our minds, bodies & our souls. It helps us to realise our true nature, our true self & yoga helps us to eventually come to appreciate that we are all part of something that is so much greater then ourselves.  Something far more important than our own busy little worlds. Whether we believe in a higher power or not, yoga helps us to learn that we all have the potential for holding a divine light within us. Our own unique light is our personal gift to the world & Lord knows, this broken world could really do with some more love & light being shared around!

As a youngster at school we would sing a song that was always a favourite, maybe you know it - 'This Little Light of Mine'?  We would sing it in morning assembly at the top of our voices. 

"This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine, 
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine,
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine,
let it shine, let it shine, let it shine all the time!" 

Now as a grown adult I have at long last come to learn how important it is for myself & for others to really truly try & let my little light shine! Come join me for meditation, yoga & mindfulness classes, on a yoga retreat at home or abroad or on a walking & yoga weekend in beautiful nature. I'd love to help you get your little light to shine brightly!


Wishing everyone Peace, Love & Light

Namaste 
Elisa