Do you remember way back in July when we covered the Yin pose Toe Squat? We talked about how many meridians are in our feet and how they depend on healthy soles for free flowing chi. We talked about how many (most) of us neglect the health of our feet, women shoving them into damaging pumps and men walking in flat, unsupported shoes. So in addition to our detrimental shoe habit, we never give our feet the attention they deserve. I mean, we do stand on them all day, right? You go to yoga and you stretch out your hips, your back, and that kink in your neck. But when’s the last time you paid attention to your feet?
Ankle stretch is even more simple to come into than toe squat. Begin just by sitting on the heels. Lean back so that the palms of your hands are resting behind you. This is the most basic of the pose. As with any chest-up pose (like backbends or Camel) lead with your heart and don’t allow your spine to collapse. The next step is to bring the arms so that they rest beside you, still being conscious of your back and chest. You do not want to lean away from the knees, instead allow the back to arch you forward. Pick the hands up from the floor and hold onto the knees to come into the third and final version of the pose. For a little extra stretch, try gently pulling the knees towards the chest. No matter what version is your edge today, breathe. This is an intense pose. Remember that stillness is just as important as how long you hold the pose, so don’t put yourself in a position where you are too uncomfortable to sit still.
To come out of the pose, place the hands in front of you and send the legs back so that you are in a plank position. A nice counter-move here is to perform a simple chaturanga and upward facing dog, being sure to tuck the toes under as this will provide the greatest counter stretch to the ankles. Finishing with Dangling can also be a nice end to this part of your practice. Dangling can also be used as an alternative if you’re not familiar with the aforementioned chaturanga.
“Enjoy” this intense pose just a few times a week, keeping in mind that Ankle Stretch and Toe Squat are a nice pair.
Photo credit: www.yinyoga.com