When teaching yoga to new students we respect they have a body and mind, but that normal sedentary living has not established a strong connection between the two. Usually the parts of the body the furthest from the head, e.g. the feet, are the most disconnected.
This disconnect is compounded by the fact most people have had their feet shoved into shoes for years, so they are cut off from the earth and their feet are energetically dull.
The majority of new students can move their feet and flex their toes, but have to be taught how to activate Pada Bandha – lifting the arches of the feet while simultaneously expanding the toes and spreading the weight evenly into the four corners.
As you step to the front of your mat to perform Mountain Pose (Tadasana), bring the inner edge of the big toes to lightly touch. Look down and lift the toes off the mat, spread them wide apart, and then ease them down to the mat, maintaining a light activation. Distribute the weight of the feet evenly into the four corners: inner ball of the big toe, outer edge of the little toe, inner heel and outer heel.
Draw up the arches of the feet without crunching the toes or disturbing the balance. Pada Bandha requires continuous action, so the mind must be kept steady. If the mind drifts, the awareness of the feet dissipates.
To visually appreciate this concept of foot focus, wet the feet and then stand on a dry floor, so you can easily see the imprint. Most people tend to stand on the outer edges of their feet. Many people have weak or collapsed arches. Almost everyone has weak foot muscles.
Lightly wet your feet, stand on a dry patch of floor for a few seconds and then step away and observe the imprint. Then, repeat, but now apply the activation of Pada Bandha and compare the difference.
Once you are able to activate evenly and have visually confirmed the weight distribution and balance, then do it again, but this time with closed eyes, so you can better feel what action is required to achieve Pada Bandha.
Now you understand and can perform Pada Bandha, take it into daily living, so you can more consciously establish this ‘distant’ part of your body with your mind. Any time you are standing, say waiting in a queue at the bank or bakery, take a moment and apply Pada Banda to better appreciate your feet. They will appreciate you back.