Trouble with Feet and Ankle Position on the Tip-Toe Tadasana Sequence
I had my husband do the “Tip Toe Tadasana Sequence” going up on tiptoe while standing and he found that difficult. I noted that his toes tip up rather than pressing into the mat when the heels come up. Even when I cued him to press his big toe pads into the mat..they still tipped up and he said he found that he was feeling like he was going to fall backwards. My husband’s in good physical condition. He has been working on getting his black belt before he turns 60 so the heat is on. He turns 60 in February but even if he gets it in his 60th year he will be happy. Any idea what’s going on there. He says he feels that he has week ankles. I think it’s something happening further up the movement chain. I would be interested to get your feedback on this.
Answer from Justine
That variation of tadasana is hard for a lot of people. My first suggestion would be to have him lift the heels ever so slightly, just a centimeter or two, to begin with, and over time he can increase the height. Secondly, I had one private client whose toes tipped up as well – in his case it was from nerve damage in his lower back that was affecting his toes (if that is the case I would suggest garshana (body brushing) and abhyanga (oiling) on his feet to stimulate and nourish the nerves). I would also suggest he put one hand on the wall to help steady his balance. If he has weak ankles, this pose is great for strengthening them – and that could also be causing the instability. Further up the movement chain (I like how you worded that!) I would make sure he is engaging his core as that helps a lot with balance (cue belly in, tailbone dropping slightly, sternum lifted). Finally, urge him to have a gazing point on the ground about 12 feet in front of him to focus on, that drishti will help dramatically if he has been looking around while practicing this pose.
Your husband may appreciate this story – one of the first times I did this pose I fell, literally, forward onto one of my teachers (I’m 6’3”, I’m sure she is still terrified!) – In my defense, it was a 6am practice….and, no one was hurt!
The first part of this video shows ‘Tip Toe Tadasana’ with cueing, the second part with the foot stretch also helps balance.