Your feet, ankles, legs, knees, hips and sacrum (the wedge-shaped bone at the base of the spine) provide a base of support for moving, working, and playing. It’s when you start slip-sliding around on the ice that you come to appreciate strength, flexibility, tracking and alignment in that base of support. Viniyoga has great tools for helping you develop a stable base of support for doing what you need and love to do.
There are many postures done lying on your back without any weight-bearing that benefit your entire lower base of support. This is often an important starting place if you have low back, sacrum, hip, knee or foot/ankle problems. Developing strength and stability in non-weight bearing often helps train the alignment needed for walking, running, skiing, ice skating, hockey, curling and standing yoga postures. Flexibility is important but should be balanced with stability and strength.
Check out Dvidpada pitham or Bridge, for its benefits for the lower body. It’s a good posture to add in to begin to gently bear weight and develop strength and stability in the lower body. You might consider exploring progressively widening the base (your feet) to work different hip muscles.
Yoga standing postures, including leg balances, can be helpful for “waking up” the muscles that support your feet, which include muscles in the feet as well as lower legs. One of my “every day postures” is the Viniyoga version of Tadasana or Mountain Pose where you raise your arms overhead and raise your heels off the floor simultaneously while inhaling and slowly lower arms and heels simultaneously on an exhalation. If you do this posture slowly on inhale and exhale, I can guarantee that you will start to “wake up” your feet.
Grow your roots and cultivate your stable base of support in practice. Do movement coordinated with a steady, slow even pace of breathing. Notice how working with your lower body in a conscious, breath-centered way travels with you during your day to help you feel rooted, grounded, and better able to deal with life’s inevitable stresses. Doing a practice that emphasizes the lower body is like strapping on your seatbelt in a rollercoaster. You’ll be able to lift your arms, scream and enjoy the ride!