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Being Barefoot

I stepped outside before dawn this morning and smiled. It is one of the most magical times of the day. Sometimes it feels like I have the whole world to myself as I gaze up at the twinkling stars in a velvety midnight blue sky in the quiet of the early morning.

Feeling drawn outside, I walked barefoot down the cool cement steps and gently onto the cold wet grass. Thousands of nerve endings in each foot came alive as I placed each foot slowly and mindfully onto the earth. I ground down by feeling that connection as I look up at the vast and beautiful sky. It's comforting and humbling at the same time.

The connection of our feet to the earth is foundational. We absorb the earth's energy, which has a calming effect on bodies and minds. We reconnect in an ancestral way. We come home. Feet can bring us into the present moment.

The "fox walk" was a sensory technique that we experienced at our Mindful Outdoor Guide training. We walked barefoot and in silence in a very slow and specific pattern on a trail through the woods while trying to maintain absolute silence and keeping our gaze up and alert, like a fox. Sharing this practice with a dozen other humans was one of the most intimate and lovely things I've experienced. We felt so connected to the land, one another, and all that was around us without saying a word.

In yoga, Mountain Pose helps to calm the body (through connection to the earth) and generate confidence (through alignment). It is the foundation of all standing poses. When you take the time to cultivate a solid foundation, the poses align with greater ease. You can experience more strength and freedom. Foundation through the feet is the first building block.

This is also why I enjoy sharing specific stretches and releases for the feet in some of my classes. It's a lovely way to give back to an area of the body that gives us so much (mobility, balance, alignment, and stability) yet gets little attention or praise. When you can, take your shoes off, wiggle your toes, stretch your feet, and let them breathe. Maybe send them a thought of thanks as well for all they do.

I invite you to take off your shoes in a (safe) outdoor space. Take your time placing each foot slowly onto the ground. Notice the contact that your foot makes. What is the temperature of the ground? What are the textures under your feet? Let them sense and feel alive.

Perhaps try Mountain Pose. Imagine roots growing into the earth anchoring the balls of your feet and your heels. Lift, spread, and wiggle your toes to find your center and feel solid. With that foundation, start to lift your kneecaps to engage your quads for an even more sturdy base. Anchor your tailbone. Lift your chest. Roll your shoulders up and then down your back. Reach your fingertips down toward the earth with your palms facing forward. Imagine the crown of your head being drawn toward the sky. Welcome to Mountain Pose. Breathe fully here. Feel the steadiness and the strength. Feel your knowing, your confidence, and your connection to the earth.


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