Yoga for Healthy Aging

Swarthmore Public Library – February 5th 2-3pm – FREE – Join us for a combined lecture and movement session, safe for all bodies. 

Age is not a disease. It’s a state to which we aspire. Yet slow-moving age-related changes such as loss of muscle mass, kyphotic posture, and lack of flexibility can leave us feeling frail, off balance, and unable to live as independently.

photo by Ben Zuckerman

Often the very thing that many of these age-related changes react positively to is activity – and the RIGHT activity. And when we make lifestyle changes to counteract the effects of aging, it helps us find a sense of control over what may seem like an overwhelming decline. Yoga is one such activity, found to counteract many age-related changes that reduce your health span.

Whether you’re looking to strengthen bones + muscles or improve flexibility and balance, there is a safe yoga practice for every level of fitness and mobility. While we may not have control over certain aspects of the aging process, we do have control over our lifestyle and activity levels. Beyond the physical postures, the mind/body connection created during yoga helps foster awareness and acceptance towards our aging bodies so we can practice safely and with compassion towards ourselves. 

Ann and her grandmother, Ellie

About the instructor: Ann Grace MacMullan, E-RYT 200, has been teaching yoga to older bodies for almost 5 years. Her oldest student was her grandmother – at age 98, she was one of the most active participants of her chair yoga class! She now teaches a range of ages and mobility levels in her Gentle Yoga, Chair Yoga, and Balance classes in the Wallingford-Swarthmore community.

Balance Workshop

Join us for a fun workshop all about balance!

  • Thursday March 5th, 10-11:15am / Wallingford Presbyterian Church / $25

There’s a real “use it or lose it” component to maintaining your balance. Whether you’re looking to prevent balance issues or to reverse them, you need to challenge your balance on a regular basis. In our class we’ll be learning safe, effective exercises that can improve your balance, flexibility, and strength. With practice, almost anyone can achieve better balance.

In this workshop, we’ll:

  • Evaluate our balance using a timed exercise.
  • Get mindful: create a mind-body connection by focusing on the breath to improve awareness.
  • Get in touch with our feet, the foundations of balance.
  • Learn new postural habits: good alignment means stability.
  • Stretch and strengthen muscles used for balance.
  • Learn new visual habits: lift the gaze to encourage use of peripheral vision.
  • Practice increasingly difficult balance challenges in a supportive, non-judgmental environment – such as: standing yoga balance poses, walking a balance beam, ball-handling, and other exercises that challenge our balance.
  • Explore the “edge” of our balance ability.
  • Celebrate our victories no matter how small by supporting and encouraging each other!

Participants of all ages and mobility levels welcome. Chairs will be provided, and if you have a yoga mat, please bring one. (Or borrow one from Team Sun Wellness, supplies limited) We will be placing chairs on the mats to create a non-slip surface. Class size limit 20. Pre-purchase your spot by clicking below – credit card and PayPal accepted. Or bring a check or cash to class, but email to hold your spot: info@teamsunwellness.com

About the Instructor: Ann MacMullan Jeans is a certified yoga instructor (E-RYT 200) and teaches yoga, meditation, and balance classes in the Philadelphia area with her company Team Sun Wellness.

A New Decade, More Healing

This coming decade is a big one for me: I’m turning fifty. That number seems incomprehensibly large when describing my own years on the planet, and yet many of my yoga and balance students are well over that age and as active and vital as ever; I consider them tremendously young. Nevertheless, fifty does seem an age where one should have it all figured out – and I’m still working on that.

Why I Love Yoga

I practice and teach yoga because it’s one of the tools of wellness that’s become necessary to my own daily functioning. I have personally experienced the healing power of this mind-body practice on many levels: regulation of my own turbulent emotions, freedom from anxiety disorder, mobility in my spine despite disc herniation and stenosis, and an overall sense of well-being. My wellness is something I actively pursue, and yoga makes me feel good all over!

Teaching yoga is a job where I get to be my 100% authentic self. I set my own schedule. I form deep connections with interesting and genuine people. Best of all, I’ve witnessed yoga’s myriad benefits in students: improved posture and balance, stronger bones, pain management, better flexibility and strength, and an ability to interpret the body’s signals without too much mental chatter.

Bridging Yoga and Healthcare

As I reach my fifth decade, it’s time to go “all in” with this healing art! Or at least, keep walking the yogic path in the way that honors my own experience; and that means more formally approaching yoga as a therapeutic means of healing mind and body. Thanks to the kind folks who gifted me with the Yoga for Osteoporosis training, I’m starting my journey towards certification as a yoga therapist, and could not be more excited to have been accepted by Prema Yoga Institute to begin my training in February of 2020. I’m pushing my roots down farther into the world of yoga, and into the somewhat new field of yoga therapy.

At PYI, we believe that yoga teaching and Yoga Therapy can empower the body/mind to heal itself. The role of a Yoga Therapist or teacher is not to diagnose or to treat, but to empower the client to participate in their healing process.

-Prema Yoga Institute Handbook

Yoga therapy integrates traditional yogic concepts and techniques with Western medical and psychological knowledge. Whereas traditional Yoga is primarily concerned with personal transcendence on the part of a “normal” or healthy individual, Yoga therapy aims at the holistic treatment of various kinds of psychological or somatic dysfunctions ranging from back problems to emotional distress. Both approaches, however, share an understanding of the human being as an integrated body-mind system, which can function optimally only when there is a state of dynamic balance.

It feels so right to be pursuing this through Prema Yoga Institute (PYI,) an International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) accredited school. The kind teachers there opened their doors to me in November and gave me a small peek at this field of work, and at how much there is for me to know! Here is the course work I will do, once I figure out how to afford it all:

  • Yoga Therapeutics Essentials – starts in February, all signed up!
  • Embodied Philosophy
  • Yoga Sound Therapy
  • Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy
  • Functional Anatomy 1+2
  • Yoga in Health Care
  • Yoga for Back Care
  • Yoga for Cardiac Care
  • Advanced Yoga Therapy
  • Yin Yoga Therapeutics
  • Immersion Courses (already did the Osteoporosis course)
  • Practicums 1-3, one is in a clinical setting – hopefully with Dr. Fishman!

I am simultaneously terrified and thrilled for this next decade. May it be filled with presence, kindness and honesty lighting the way forward!

Thank you to family, friends, students and teachers who have shown their support along the way. I look forward to empowering self-healing in myself and those around me, and continuing the dance of yoga.

If you’d like to contribute to my cause, please visit my GoFundMe page.

Yoga Gift Cards

Looking for that last minute gift? Why not give the gift of yoga to a loved one – or better yet, to yourself!

Personalized virtual gift cards can be created within a few hours of your purchase, along with instructions on where and when classes meet or how to set up a private session. Here’s an example:

Whether it’s chair yoga, mat yoga, or private sessions, we have you covered. Shop our gift card collection:

Balance Workshop

Join us for a fun workshop all about balance!

  • Thursday December 12th, 10-11:15am / Wallingford Presbyterian Church / $25

There’s a real “use it or lose it” component to maintaining your balance. Whether you’re looking to prevent balance issues or to reverse them, you need to challenge your balance on a regular basis. In our class we’ll be learning safe, effective exercises that can improve your balance, flexibility, and strength. With practice, almost anyone can achieve better balance.

While it’s true that our muscles, joints, and bones change as we age, and are no longer as elastic or strong as they once were, and we may also experience more issues in the vestibular system, or may be taking medications which affect balance, it doesn’t mean our balance is only going to get worse.

I believe that if we have regular doctor’s checkups, stay active and mindful, have good posture, and continue to challenge our balance, we can maintain and even improve balance. I have seen improvements in balance firsthand with regular practice in my balance and yoga classes. Being more active seems to go hand in hand with maintaining or improving balance.

In this workshop, we’ll:

  • Evaluate our balance using a timed exercise.
  • Get mindful: create a mind-body connection by focusing on the breath to improve awareness.
  • Get in touch with our feet, the foundations of balance.
  • Learn new postural habits: good alignment means stability.
  • Stretch and strengthen muscles used for balance.
  • Learn new visual habits: lift the gaze to encourage use of peripheral vision.
  • Practice increasingly difficult balance challenges in a supportive, non-judgmental environment – such as: standing yoga balance poses, walking a balance beam, ball-handling, and other exercises that challenge our balance.
  • Explore the “edge” of our balance ability.
  • Celebrate our victories no matter how small by supporting and encouraging each other!

Participants of all ages and mobility levels welcome. Chairs will be provided, and if you have a yoga mat, please bring one. (Or borrow one from Team Sun Wellness, supplies limited) We will be placing chairs on the mats to create a non-slip surface. Class size limit 20. Pre-purchase your spot by clicking below – credit card and PayPal accepted. Or bring a check or cash to class, but email to hold your spot: info@teamsunwellness.com

    About the Instructor: Ann MacMullan Jeans is a certified yoga instructor (E-RYT 200) and teaches yoga, meditation, and balance classes in the Philadelphia area with her company Team Sun Wellness.

    Gentle Flow Yoga – December

    When: Saturday December 14th + Saturday December 21st / 11am-12pm

    Connect mind, body, and spirit during a series of accessible yoga poses linked together with breath and focus. Blocks and straps provided, extra mats available as well.This class is safe for all ages and bodies: whether you’re a total beginner, haven’t gotten to the mat in a while, or have a regular practice.

    FIRST CLASS IS FREE if you’ve never attended a Team Sun Wellness class before! Hold your spot by emailing: info@teamsunwellness.com / 2 for $25, drop in for $15 / Class size limit: 35.

    Where: Wallingford Presbyterian Church 110 E. Brookhaven Road
    Wallingford, PA 19086 Free Parking on the premises

    ____________

    About the teacher: Ann MacMullan Jeans, E-RYT-200, has been teaching a range of community driven yoga classes in the Wallingford Swarthmore area for almost 5 years. Here is what one student says: “I have been a grateful student in Ann’s yoga classes for a couple of years. As an older yoga practitioner who has worked with other teachers in the past, I have especially appreciated her non-judgmental and very encouraging approach. Her classes offer increasing challenges for students to stretch their bodies and their repertoire of yoga poses, but always in a compassionate, supportive, and peaceful atmosphere. In addition, her subtle humor and intention to connect personally with her students makes practicing yoga just plain fun. As Ann expands her teaching opportunities, I hope to follow her for as long as I can move my body!”

    Student Spotlight: Judy

    • Name: Judy
    • Age: 71 (she adds, “old enough to know better and young enough to do it anyway!”)
    • Sun Sign: Aries
    • Pets: Two long-haired black cats, Amos and Pinkerton
    • Favorite Sweet Treat: anything chocolate

    Interoception

    One thing I’ve noticed about Judy since I met her in 2016 (besides her lovely posture!) is her ability to open herself up to whatever she’s experiencing, and I can tell she’s really listening inward during class. She has been a fixture in my group classes since then, adding her special brand of graceful goodwill and lightheartedness.

    Grace

    Warrior Two Pose

    Judy’s been practicing on and off since 1998, but in 2000, she needed spine surgery in her neck to repair a serious bone spur that was interfering with her range of motion and causing numbness down her arm. They took the discs out of C6+C7 and replaced them with bone from her left hip. While she suffers from arthritis throughout most of her joints, Judy has learned that she feels much better if she keeps moving.

    “If it hurts, it means I’m still alive.”

    -Judy s.

    Currently, she practices yoga about 2-3 hours each week, which has also helped strengthen her bones as we reported earlier this year. (Her improved Dexa Scan scores contributed to the blogpost I wrote on Yoga for Stronger Bones.) In fact, I blame Judy and another student for getting me interested in yoga for osteoporosis, and I’m only at the beginning of that journey, so thank you…

    Effort

    Extended Side Angle Pose

    Judy came to my house for a special one-on-one session – or an osteocyte party as I like to say! Osteocytes are important building blocks of bone synthesis, but we need to practice the right poses with proper alignment and work hard within the pose (hold for at least 30 seconds, for one!) in order to put enough stress on the bone to get that bone-building party started. She even got into an Extended Side Angle Pose, great for stimulating the femurs and spinal vertebrae – the areas where Judy has thinning bone.

    Centering

    With her weak ankles and neuropathy in her feet, Judy’s toughest challenge is balancing poses like Tree. “Balance is hard for me, and it makes me feel less successful, though it does get somewhat easier with practice!”

    “Let go of your judgments and just do what you can, but make it a regular part of your routine.”

    -Judy S.

    Because of Judy’s regular yoga practice, she experiences less arthritis pain, stronger bones, and feels more centered in her daily life. Yoga class provides her with a social connection with like-minded people. I’m so grateful to have Judy’s beaming smile in my classes, along with her humor and present-moment insight into her own practice. I hope she will consider the yoga dose response study with Dr. Fishman and keep those BMD scores improving!

    It’s truly an honor, Judy!

    Meet more of our students

    Gentle Flow Yoga – Winter

    “The posture of yoga is steady and easy. It is realized by relaxing one’s effort and resting like the cosmic serpent on the waters of infinity.”

    – Patanjali, Yoga Sutras

    January/February Classes: These winter classes have flexible attendance: buy a class card and attend any session that works for your calendar! This class is safe for all levels: whether you’re a total beginner, haven’t gotten to the mat in a while, or have a regular practice.

    When: 

    Saturdays / Jan 4th – Feb 1st / 11-12pm

    Tuesdays / Jan 7th – Feb 11th / 9-10am

    Thursdays / Jan 9th – Feb 13th / 10-11am

    Join one of the all levels Gentle Flow Yoga classes and explore:

    • Breath awareness and breathing exercises 
    • The connection between movement and breath
    • Stable alignment in classic poses, modified for your personal anatomy
    • Safe and fun transitions throughout gentle sequencing
    • The philosophy of yoga
    • Taking yoga off the mat into your everyday routine

    Show up in whatever state you’re in, and be guided through an accessible fun sequence designed to connect mind, body, and spirit. Blocks and straps provided, and some extra mats available as well.

    Where: Wallingford Presbyterian Church 110 E. Brookhaven Road
    Wallingford, PA 19086 Free Parking on the premises

    Note: Gift Certificates Available, just add a note to the seller and a virtual card will be created and emailed within 24 hours of your purchase.

    How to Live a Longer, Healthier Life

    Living to be over 100 isn’t uncommon at all in regions known as the blue zones. In these areas, life expectancy isn’t just higher; centenarians are generally also healthy in mind and body. Author Dan Buettner teamed up with a team from National Geographic to study these groups, and whittled their longevity down to 9 common denominators. We found their recipe for wellness extremely interesting and wanted to share it with you.

    Prana Mudra – (Life Force Seal) for vitality!

    As yoga and mindfulness teachers, our own blueprint for wellness always needs refining and fine-tuning. Whether we have time for a long yoga practice or a 5-minute mindfulness meditation, there is one daily constant, and that’s our high-energy dog, Lucy. She crosses a few things off the wellness list – she’s the reason we get up in the morning, she helps relieves stress (she loves snuggles,) and keeps us moving!

    1. Move Naturally The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.

    What do you do to move naturally and stay active? How can you bring more natural movement into your everyday routine?

    Soaking up some joyful movement.

    2. Purpose The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida;” for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy A reason for being.” The word “ikigai” is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile.

    What inspires you to get out of bed in the morning, what makes your life worth living, or gives your life value? Would you like to find more meaning in your life?

    Getting up and taking Lucy for a walk is a great motivator! When she’s happy, so are we.

    3. Manage Your Stress / Down Shift Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. What the world’s longest-lived people have that we don’t are routines to shed that stress. Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour.

    What do you do to actively manage your stress? Can you add a few new stress-relieving habits like yoga or meditation to your list?

    Brian in his Tree Pose, bare feet on yellow steps, arms uplifted.

    4. 80% Rule “Hara hachi bu”  – the Okinawan, 2500-year old Confucian mantra said before meals reminds them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it. People in the blue zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day.

    When do you eat your biggest meal? Do you continue to eat until you are past full? Can you be more mindful of your hunger levels at the next meal?

    Giant sunflowers growing on a small South Philly side street.

    5. Plant Slant Beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month.  Serving sizes are 3-4 oz., about the size of a deck of cards.

    How often do you eat meat, and how big of a portion size do you put on your plate? Can you substitute beans at your next meal?

    6. Wine @ 5 People in all blue zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly.  Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t save up all week and have 14 drinks on Saturday.

    Are you able to drink moderately? We cannot condone drinking, as many Americans have a problem relationship with alcohol, but if you are able to enjoy a glass of wine without any negative consequences, cheers!

    Shakti Mudra (Power Seal) Shakti is in everything, she’s the innate creativity at the heart of all living things. Rosemary in our garden scents the scene.

    7. Belong / Community All but five of the 263 centenarians we interviewed belonged to some faith-based community.  Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy.

    Have you found a community where you feel you belong? If you have, can you reach out to someone who seems like they might need help finding theirs? If you haven’t, make a list of possibilities.

    8. Loved Ones First/Family Successful centenarians in the blue zones put their families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (It lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home too.). They commit to a life partner (which can add up to 3 years of life expectancy) and invest in their children with time and love (They’ll be more likely to care for you when the time comes).

    Can you create more quality time with your family? Can you commit more fully to your life partner if you have one?

    Brian, my life partner, and our little family member, Lucy.

    9. Right Tribe / Social Life The world’s longest lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors, Okinawans created ”moais”–groups of five friends that committed to each other for life. Research from the Framingham Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. So the social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.

    Can you set up a phone call or lunch date with a friend this week? Even casual social relationships are important when it comes to longevity. Who is on your best friend list?

    Best wishes for health and vitality from Team Sun Wellness!

    We are all our own best teachers, of course. What works for someone in Okinawa might not work for you. So listen to your own mind and body as you reach for new ways to be your best self. We continue to wish you health and well-being, and all the vitality you desire!

    Resources: Blue Zones Website

    Yoga for Your Feet

    “The ability to stretch our toes like fingers and to create a wide, healthy, open space between each and every toe is not some vestigial ability available only to a chosen few.”

    -Mary Dunn, quoted in Yoga for People Over 50

    Toe Exercises – Start Your Practice

    Students often laugh in disbelief when I ask them to do these Toe Exercises, since many of us have really lost a lot of coordination in our toes. By creating space, strength, and flexibility in our toes, we are both widening our base for increased stability and using the whole of our foot for better agility. Try it by watching the video above, or following these guidelines:

    1. Take off your shoes.
    2. Pick all your toes up off the ground and spread them as widely as you can. Is there space between each toe? You can practice creating space between the toes in any yoga pose. While you’re off the mat, you can intertwine your fingers between your toes and manually create space.
    3. Now, try pressing just your big toe into the earth, and lift up all the little toes. If the big toes want lift up too, manually override that by using your fingers to keep the toes down.
    4. Now try pressing all the little toes into the earth, and lift up the big toes. Again, if your toes are not cooperative, use a manual assist with your fingers.
    5. Go back and forth between lifting just the big toes, and just the little toes. Keep practicing every day and notice the difference!
    6. Advanced Toe Exercise – try pressing the big toes down and the little toe, and lifting all the toes in between!
    7. Finish up by bringing as much space between your toes as you can.

    Got Foot Problems?

    By age 40, about 80 percent of the population has some muscular-skeletal foot or ankle problem. By age 50 to 55, that number can go up to 90 or 95 percent. Walking and yoga may help reverse foot problems. According to Suza Francina, author of The New Yoga for People over 50, “the combination of walking and yoga is the supreme way to rehabilitate your feet.” She recommends walking barefoot as often as possible, as well as doing various toe stretches like the ones in our video above that encourage opening space up between the toes where we have lost dexterity due to the confinement of wearing shoes. In addition, many poses done in a regular yoga practice stretch and strengthen the feet and legs too, and experts say they can provide benefit beyond treating common foot problems like plantar fasciatis, fallen arches, bunions, and many more.

    “I recommend that all my patients start yoga immediately. When you treat foot problems with yoga, you end up treating back pain, hip pain, all kinds of structural problems. Not only does it stretch out the muscles and lead to a greater range of motion, but it helps heal the root issue of inflammation as well.”

    Robert Kornfeld, holistic podiatrist

    The anatomy of your foot is a marvel, a miracle. Da Vinci called the human foot a “masterpiece of engineering and work of art.” With 200,000 nerve endings, 26 bones, 33 joints, 19 muscles, and 107 ligaments in each foot, we mere mortals are able to execute highly precise movements.

    “The sole of your foot has over 200,000 nerve endings in it, one of the highest concentrations anywhere in the body. Our feet are designed to act as earthward antennae, helping us balance and transmitting information to us about the ground we’re walking on.”

    -Adam Sternberg, New York Magazine article “You Walk Wrong”

    Mountain Pose – The Foundation

    The feet are our foundations, our basic connection to the ground upon which we stand. When we “root down” during various yoga postures such as Mountain Pose, it is an invitation to bring awareness to your feet first, and then legs. Walking upright, we need to feel the ground in order to feel balanced. With every step we take, healthy feet allow us to move with confidence throughout the diverse terrain of our daily lives.

    You can do this pose anywhere. I prefer to practice it on a yoga mat with bare feet, but try Mountain Pose while standing in line at the grocery store or talking to a friend. Stable, alert, and upright, this foundational pose begins with a sharp awareness of our feet. Start with your feet and work your way up the body.

    Enhance Your Balance – Calf Raises Exercise

    1. Bringing movement into our Mountain Pose, we rise up onto our tip toes, and rock back onto our heels.
    2. Whether you incorporate simple arm movement, or hold onto a chair for this simple exercise, you may start to feel the structure of the foot more acutely.
    3. Notice where you place most of your weight as you rise up – is it on the inside edges of the feet, where there is more structural support, or on the outside edges? Can you rise up and hold for a beat?
    4. Try connecting your breath – inhale as you lift, exhale as you ground down – and relax into any micro-movements that show up in order to find the edge of your balance.
    5. Doing this easy exercise every day, I have developed strength in both my feet and lower limbs, and brought a newfound awareness to my feet that has greatly enhanced my balance.

    Try Tree Pose

    Tree Pose can be practiced using the support of a chair!

    Tree Pose (Vrkasana) is one of our favorites poses, so we were thrilled to learn that Tree Pose may help slow advancement of a common foot problem – bunions. According to Robert Kornfeld, “Yoga can’t reverse bunions that have already formed—only surgery can—but practicing certain poses can slow their advancement.” He recommends practicing balancing poses like Tree pose in which the foot with the bunion is grounded and the other foot is lifted (of course we have to do both sides if we’re practicing any standing pose!) He says this will engage and strengthen the peroneal muscle of the standing leg that runs all along the outside of the lower leg, and tucks under the sole of the foot. That “grounding force” can help override instabilities that make the bunion worse. And Tree Pose can have many other benefits too, such as improving overall balance and focus. Check out our video:

    Going Barefoot – for Optimal “Grounding”

    Image from Wheels of Life

    “The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections.”

    – Walt Whitman

    One study concluded that prior to the invention of shoes, people may have had healthier feet. I like to joke that one of the reasons I became a yoga teacher was so that I could go barefoot. In truth, I do need all the grounding I can get, and feeling my naked feet touch the earth provides me just that. According to one of my favorite books on the Chakras, much like a lightning rod protects a building by sending excess voltages into the earth, grounding protects our bodies from becoming overloaded by the tensions of everyday life. So, take off your shoes, root down, and practice as much Yoga for Your Feet as you desire. I’ll leave you with this poem I penned on the feet:

    Ode to My Feet
     
    Hello feet! I haven’t paid you much heed
    And yet there you are, my two trusty steeds
    Bearing my weight day in and day out
    In today’s class, I’d like to give you a shout out.
     
    Each foot contains 26 bones,
    And has not one but three arches! I learned through my Iphone.
    The 107 ligaments spread throughout its base
    Allow us to balance, to spring and to pace.
     
    Such precision required to move through our days
    Is often ignored until there is pain
    Whether bunions, arthritis, or gout, we may know
    That an injury in the metatarsals is likely to grow.
     
    Without proper care, the offset is dire
    And can travel to knees, backs, and hips like wild-fire.
     
    If your arches have fallen, walk barefoot they say
    And try grabbing things with your toes – start today!
    Build strength in your feet and your ankles with cues
    To distribute weight evenly - stability rules!
     
    The foot is a marvel with its myriad bones
    Each doing its job to carry us home.
    So appreciate yours, take good care and be smart,
    Like Da Vinci who pronounced them “a work of art.”

    More Tips:

    • Try picking things up with your toes
    • Distribute your weight evenly as you walk or in any yoga pose
    • Go to the doctor if you notice new pain in your ankles or feet

    Resources:

    4 Yoga Poses to Fine Tune Foot Stability and Prevent Injury, Yoga Journal

    You Walk Wrong, NY Magazine

    Shod versus unshod: The emergence of forefoot pathology in modern humans?, Science Direct

    Foot Anatomy, MedicineNet

    Wheels of Life, Anodea Judith, PhD

    The New Yoga for People Over 50, Suza Francina

    Anatomy 101: Strengthen Your Big Toes to Build Stability, Yoga Journal

    Yoga Poses for Bunions, Ask the Experts, Robert Kornfield, DPM – Yoga Journal October 2015