Miranda explores what this term means on your mat and beyond...
… is a phrase that sometimes comes up in a yoga class. It usually means check in with your feet (or whatever part of your body is making contact with the mat – the foundation of your body in the asana).
Are the joints safe and stacked? Are they in the right alignment? Are the bandhas engaged supplying a solid core to make the practise safe and strong? And above all, where is your breathing at? Is it free, expansive, strong and even?
These foundational elements are 80% of the asana – chances are that if your feet (or hands, arms, shins, head…) are in the correct alignment the rest of the body will follow suit.
If your core is strong the movements and poses will be freer but safer. And of course, that added challenge of regulating the breath – so it calms, nourishes, resets and rejuvenates the nervous system – is fundamental for experiencing the healing and wellbeing benefit of yoga. Without that breath – prana, life force –it not really Yoga.
Now if I’m honest – when I first started practising I never really thought about foundations. I would roll forward on my back foot, forget to spread my fingers, over bend my knees, pop my belly out, hold my breath or hyperventilate… but I (sort of) looked like I was in the right shape.
After time my body began to rebel physically and energetically with injuries and exhaustion. So I stripped my practise back to basics, I forwent the chaturangas and headstands, until my foundations were strong. As a result my practise – in a holistic, eight limbed sense – blossomed. I began to feel and grow into those things which are cited on the yoga tin, but which seemed to have evaded me before.
Often what plays out on the yoga mat mirrors our habits and attitudes in life. Needless to say, foundations were not my strong point. I would rush to get to the end of everything I did, and it was usually a pretty harried, stressful and ultimately unsatisfactory result – even if it looked like it was supposed to. It definitely didn’t feel like it.
The re-evaluation and rebuilding of my asana practise coincided with a time where a whole lot of reflection, re-evaluation and rebuilding was necessary throughout many areas of my life. Its hard work, humbling and frustrating to feel like you have to ‘start again’. But its so worth it and rewarding in way you cannot begin to imagine once you set out on that journey.
So since then foundations are a BIG thing for me. When I start something new (or have to return to something old) I take the time to set roots, feel stable and grow from there.
Yoga Quota was my first yoga teaching job, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Our studio (because I feel like a little part of me will always be there, just as I will take a little piece with me) is a big loving, goofy, cool, safe, friendly, accepting family – with its charitable mission at the very centre of it. It is Yoga – in the holistic sense of the word. Yoga Quota allowed me to find my feet, my voice, my mission as a yoga teacher. It has given me a rock solid foundation to take the next step on my teaching journey – and that has been thanks to Anne, Cassie, Harriet, Audrey and Venetia – but most of all to the students I have been blessed enough to have in my classes over the year. I cannot thank you all enough.
Until our paths cross again, With love and gratitude, Miranda xxxxx