yoga suffolk

This barefoot life

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So blog time about being barefoot. As a lot, if not all, of you know i have been completely barefoot for the last 7 months. This seems to get a whole lot of weird looks and constant questions as to why. I write this blog from the perspective of a yoga teacher and nurse who spends their life dealing with people with maybe some sort of knee valgus/varus issues, pain in the feet, hips, back. Tension and cramping in the feet and shins and hips, with a lack of mobility to even find the most basic of movements such as a hindi squat (the resting pose of pretty much 3/4 of the world population.) allowing the base of our body, the foundation of the structure we call "us" to do its job properly can have a massive impact of all sorts of pain and structure issues.

While there is probably about enough material for a book rather than a blog to be written on this subject, i while keep this fairly basic and short....(Psssst there are actually books written about this very subject, and written much more concisely than i ever could, hence me not writing one.....see in particular Katy Bowmans whole body barefoot and simple steps to foot pain relief) 

The feet and ankles make up 1/4 of the moving body

The feet and ankles make up 1/4 of the moving body

So as the picture above shows, there is a hell of a lot going on with each foot. 33 joints per side, so even without a decent maths GCSE (i did it 4 times haha) thats 66 joints JUST IN THE FEET ALONE. Your spine has also 33 but only 24 actually move, while 9 fuse as we become adults. Now just think about how important it is all those spinal facets are moving and gliding over each other as they should. As soon as they stop there is all sorts of pain and discomfort felt through out the whole body, not just the back. Well guess what, your feet are no different, in fact in many ways they are almost more important as they are your foundations, they are what your entire Bipedal structure is built off just them. This doesn't even account for the 200,000+ nerve ending that are in the feet.

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So briefly, i have been transitioning to being barefoot since around 2012 when i got my first pair of vibrato 5 fingers and since that time have just gotten to the stage where it just seemed a lot of work to put shoes on to just go to the shops, so now i have stopped. A lot of the questions i get asked are...Q: doesn't it hurt to ask on stones/concrete/acorns/whatever, just insert word there. A: is no....your feet are pretty amazing things, and the more you use them as they were designed to be used the more they get used to it. All those 66 joints suddenly start to find life that has been lost through wearing shoes (to use Katy Bowman's expression, shoes act as plater casts for our feet) al those nerves suddenly being to understand how lumps and bumps and digits and acorns are suppose to feel and so your feet begin to mould around the environment your are you. you begin to walk and step lighter, using your feet to feel your away through your walk. below is a video of me running barefoot across walberswick beach with my pups a couple of weeks back.

A few other questions i get asked would be things like Q: What Happens if you stand on something sharp and it gets infected? A: I look where i am going and i don't stand on anything so nothing gets infected. Q: What if you stand in dog poo (always ALWAYS the favourite to ask) A:i wipe and wash it off. exactly as you would do if you were wearing shoes, only it comes off that much easier...those waffle grip Vans are a bastard to get it out of. Q:Dont you care what other people think of you being barefoot??  A: If you know me at all then thats a simple one...No, people only care about how other people perceive them...if all you are worrying about is "will Fred and Jane think i am weird if i don't wear shoes" than your concerns are clearly aimed in the wrong place with the world as it is right now. Learn to be happy as you are in your self...maybe thats wearing shoes, but also make sure you learn and understand the issues that comes from wearing shoes/heels and the problems they can create (hello bunions)

Working with the Ipswich Town football players over the last 10 weeks has been a real eye opener as to what feet look like, even at a young ages, when you live in boots with a tight toe box. Toes squished together, metatarsal phalangeal joint enlargement (evening causing bunions) and toes which don't want to move as they should. The video above was filmed and shows Adam webster, Tom Adeyemi and Tommy Smith all playing with lifting the big toe and keeping the others on the floor and then web lifting the 3 middle toes and keeping the big one down. Great exercises to bring some of that neuro-plasticity back and remind those feet what they are capable of. Using th tennis balls to roll your feet on is also a great way to re-awaken the tissues in the nerves in the feet without beating the crap out of them like you would do if you used a golf ball...you aren't trying to "break down" any tissues or anything but just remind your feet what it is like to be awake, to be alive.

So if you are looking for shoes to wear there are a growing number of them on the market that make barefoot stuff shoes, the main two I've used and can vouch for are Vibram (they make the "crazy" 5 finger style glove shoes which you need to be happy with your self and not care about being seen as even weirder than being barefoot) and Vivobarefoot who make some pretty stylish nice shoes. like i say there are many brands these days and they are all trying to make the idea of wearing a shoe as close to being barefoot as possible. They have A wide toe box, a thin sole and a neutral heel rise. Traditional shoes pretty much constantly have a raised heel, and no i don't just mean girls and your high heels (or guys if you like). Your running shoe has a raised and padded heel to "take out the impact" that running causes through heel plant running. Go for a run barefoot and your body will not allow that style of running cos it bloody hurts so you shift to a mid foot running technique without even trying, your body just knows how it should run in nature. i wont go into the depths of running shod/barefoot and actually your body is great at adapting either way but if you are struggling with pain and injuries maybe its something you should think about. 

 

So to conclude, Whilst i am at the extreme end of the whole barefoot thing and i wouldn't expect, though i would love, people to suddenly start walking everywhere barefoot, i do hope that maybe you might look at the ideas behind being barefoot and trying to do it more often. The reason i do it is to find a greater understanding and comfort in my own body.  One of the reasons for this could be so that tescos don't kick up a stink when ever i walk in there (apparently its unhygienic being in there barefoot...even more so than the shoes that have never been washed) There are said to be calming benefits to walking on grass barefoot so maybe even just start there and slowly try to build up walking on your pea shingle drive, i shouldn't use these words as tescos quite often try to kick me out, but every little helps. You won't end up with super hard feet the whole soul of the foot adapts and just becomes harder wearing. If you have any questions about such things, feel free to drop me a line, this has already been WAY to long, but i will leave you with a clip of what your feet can be capable of if you used them like they can be used everyday 

Championship football Yoga

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So recently i have taken on the task of helping to get and then keep match fit a bunch of the Ipswich Town Football Club players. The 13 year old in me would be unable to control himself thinking that he would one day be hanging out at Portman road and the training ground.

Working with a bunch of guys a fair few years younger than me but who seem to have spent their lives running and doing a whole heap of strength training, its super fun to lead them through yoga sessions aiming to open up their hips/thighs/chests and shoulders....really its the whole bodies. 

Looking at them from the Biotensegrity viewpoint of the fascial body, we are working whole body movements from the soles of the feet up to the forehead and the crown of the head. Adam Webster, a defender, has been working through various ankle injuries while NZ international defender Tommy Smith, towns longest serving player, a longstanding back issue and recently a hamstring niggle. these guys have been open to new ways of moving and exploring the limits of their bodies while working through traditional yoga flows and into more functional mobility movements, always keeping the breath at the forefront. 

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Both these guys are super keen to get back on the pitch and get that backline back to its best so town can continue their amazing start to the season. look forward to the seeing more of these guys to keep them at the top of their game. As Ryan Giggs used to answer when asked How are you still playing at 37? How are you still playing for United?

" I say that one of the main reasons is the yoga, keeping me as strong and flexible as possible." 

Keep an eye out for these guys back on the pitch in no time helping take ITFC from the championship to premiership football next year.  

A&E nursing, yoga teaching and the art of zen

So as a yoga teacher and someone who practices yoga everyday i am totally chilled out and fully "zenned" out all the time right?!?! As much as i would love that to be the case it is not. You can ask just about anyone from my fiancee to the porters at work and they will tell you that i am a very laid back (kinda horizontal or maybe worse at times) and i can pretty much be found with a a little dance in my set or a sing to whistle on my lips, but of late i have found that all my daily yoga practice and regular teaching isn't really helping me remain all that chilled and laid back.

I am exhausted, i have found that there appears to be a very large wall in front of me of late and i have hit it and continue to hit most days. I am currently working near on 40 hours a week of mixed shifts including nights, weekends, 10am-10pm etc etc and on top of this my yoga teaching life as picked up to the stage that i am teaching 10-12 classes a week in and around ipswich and suffolk with more potential classes coming. Now don't get me wrong, this is the best news i could possibly ask for. In under 18 months i have taken my little classes from 1 a week with 6-10 people to sometimes 12 a week with numbers of up to 24 in a class. But life is coming to the stage where something has to give

I was working in accident and emergency a few days ago and was told that i really needed to learn to smile and not let things bother me so much. i was about 8 or 9 hours into a 12 hour day and it had been BUSY. This kinda got me thinking about peoples perception of the chilled out yogi/yogini. Whilst i was in india and was meditating for 60-90 minutes a morning on the beach with my guruji, Upendra, and my dear dear friend Cathe (i still miss you and wish i could have got to head to the himalayas with you), and had not a worry in the world then yes i honestly cannot say i could have been more chilled out and relaxed, but unfortunately this "real" world that us westerners have built for ourselves in which work is placed so high in importance and being happy and humane with those people we interact with either daily or in one off meetings is seen less important has totally drained it from me.

I have been looking at the important things in my life over the last few months as i have become busier and tireder and have come to the conclusion that something has to give. I am so busy right now that to get in my own practice time (which i see as being totally key if i am going to ever be a remotely half decent teacher) i have to get up at at least 5am and then sometimes be up and awake until 10-11pm, so i feel i am having to choose between yoga practice (and yes that is meditation/pranayama and asana) and having time to actually sleep. So after my wedding in October i am going to attempt to re-find my zen and my happier more cheerful self (i'm pretty certain my soon to be wife will also be happy with this too) and cut my hours at work to two days a week in A&E and double down my focus to be the best yoga teacher i can. More time to dedicate to my self and my students and my family and friends. 

 

So next time you are feeling stressed at home or work or anywhere you find your self, please remind your self that even us yoga lot who spend their loves trying to practice non-attachment and to stay present with their mindful breath, that we all fail at it on a daily basis, we are lucky that maybe we remind ourselves to notice when we fail at it, but we still get exhausted, grumpy, short and told to cheer up and smile while at work.

Yoga day at Henham Hall

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Hey one and all

so this week I am privileged enough to have been invited to teach at Henham hall near southwold. One of my students was super kind and past my details onto the lovely Sarah Rous who invited me to teach 1hr 45minutes class of yang and yin! 

 

The setting is totally beautiful in an old beamed barn, with a beautiful energy and atmosphere! 

 

 

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The long morning will involve a great meditation to set the day off, with a beautiful slow hatha flow to get warmed up and Into the day! There will also be talks on ayuveda and the great Indian health system of doshas, along with a some chat time on reflexology and how we can incorporate it into our yoga practice! 

 

If you are interested in coming along please get in touch at wibbs@mandukyayoga.com or Sarah@henhampark.com

 

 

This is such a joy after just finishing teaching 3 classes at the yoga day at dance east last weekend, here is a little picture from that great day...cannot wait for me like it this Saturday! 

 

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Welcome!

Namaste and hello from my new site and the centre of what will, hopefully, be the place for all the information you could possibly need in regards to my yoga classes/retreats/me and what it is I am up to. There will hopefully be regular blogs going up which will hopefully keep you entertained. These will be to do with courses I attend and how these could affect our practice or just day to day lives, interesting things I read in regards to recent yoga research and anything I think you may find of interest!

Please have a look around the site, share it around and try and come along to a class or two! If you have ever fancied trying meditation but thought it seemed far to hard (it's really not) then get in touch and we can arrange a taster for you! Same with general yoga asana (the physical side of it) practice!

Look forward to seeing you all at a class soon! 

Light and love
Namaste
Wibbs