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How to bring your foot forward in your yoga practice

Ever feel frustrated when you swing your foot forward from downward facing dog to the top of your mat, only for it to land so far from the front that it feels like a different postcode area?! 


Each time you tell yourself THIS is the day for the perfect landing, willing your foot to work with you, only for it to give up mid-mat waiting to be dragged reluctantly to the top.


Firstly, let’s remind ourselves yoga is all about the practice, not perfection. 


That said, we’ve put together some advice - to help you create a more fluid transition, have fun doing it, and get the most out of your practice.

What does it mean to step your foot forward in yoga?


In a Vinyasa Flow class seamless transitions help maintain your flow, as this is what helps keep the connection between breath & movement fluid.


Once such transition comes when you’re asked to bring one foot forward to the front of your mat from a downward dog position into perhaps a low lunch lunge (Anjaneyasana) or crescent lunge (Ashta Chandrasana)


The good news is, some advice and mindful practice can allow you to be more conscious in how you transition your foot into this new position more mindfully.


Why is it so difficult?


If you struggle with your step-through, you’re not alone. 


There are a couple of different reasons you may be finding this transition more difficult than the person next to you.


First of all, everyone has different sized limbs! So of course, your long legged friend may float forward majestically while you’re left dragging the foot into place.


We also have different levels of natural flexibility and mobility through the hips, spine, shoulders which can restrict us in this transition as theres a lot going on!


However, there is always the potential to create more space to improve how this transition feels and lands, so wherever you’re at right now, you can become more aware of what works for you to help enhance your practice.



OK, so how do we actually do it?! 

Your step-by-step guide to bring the foot forward 


So, let’s get down to business.


1. Downward facing dog:

  • Make sure you energise through your arms and shoulders and begin to lift your chest and upper back high - like you do in cat pose 

  • Rise high onto the ball of your feet & feel your lower back start to round

  • This preparation is all about creating space - the more space you have, the better chance you have!

2. Engage your core:

  • Squeeze your belly button in and press your hands firmly into the mat - this helps with lifting your chest and back higher 

  • Root down through your standing foot firmly for a strong and stable foundation 


3. Lift and bend leg:

  • Inhale and lift one leg straight up into three-legged dog - this opens up your pelvis and creates the space you need to step all the way through

  • Exhale, bend the knee, and draw it toward your chest.


4. Shift forward:

  • Shift your weight slowly forward as if you're going into plank pose and create a ripple like action providing lots of space between your body, chest, shin & the floor

5. Bring foot forward:

  • Use your arm, upper back and core strength to push the floor aware to try and place the foot forward between your hands quietly with control


Easier said than done right...


Now, here are some extra pointers and cheeky hacks to help with your practice and keep that foot inching closer to the top of the mat!


Think Up!

When stepping the foot forwards into that fluid action we tend to think of the down action which means heavy, I advise you to think up & light! Lift the hips high & think about pushing away with the hands to create height & space for the leg to come under you. We need to go up to bring the foot down.



Re-route

Try stepping the foot to the outside of your front hand instead of between your hands as it creates more space, the hip has more movement & theres less in the way to the side. When the foot then lands down you can wiggle it underneath you!


Use your breath to activate control

When activating the breath correctly it helps brings more awareness to the activation of your bhandas, root lock & navel lock (mula bhanda & uddiyana bhanda).

The term uddiyana literally means “flying up”, by pressing the navel inward toward the spine and drawing the abdomen up under your ribs you'll produce a hollowing under the base of the rib cage. Creating space and a deep internal support to help you fell supported and stable.


Help yourself out if needed!

If it's just not landing between your hands, simply drop the back knee down & pick up your front foot and pull it further forward so your ankle & knee align. It might be a case of practice but it could just be due to how your body is built which prevents this transition happening and that is fine, be kind & give yourself a hand.


Find the destination

Look where the foot is aiming to go, look between your hands as you lift the leg & tell your mind where you are aiming for it to go


Use momentum

At first use the momentum of a slight leg swing to help bring the foot forward, that feeling as if you’re kicking a ball. Enabling you to develop the action of stepping through, with practice you can begin to bring more control and work towards pulling the leg in instead of swinging it through.


Props

Try using blocks under each hand to add more length to your arms which could enable to you scoop the foot through!?


Be patient!

Yoga is not about quick fixes it’s about persistence, practice and most of all kindness.

Enjoy the journey as much as the destination.!


Step both feet into our Clitheroe studio for peaceful and empowering yoga

Hello! I’m Vanessa, owner of Vanessa Flow Yoga Studio in the peaceful and picturesque Ribble Valley.


If you haven’t visited us before and you’re keen to practise your yoga in a welcoming, luxurious space, I’d love to meet you!


We have a range of yoga classes on offer to suit everyone, including vinyasa yoga, hot yoga, aerial yoga, and chair yoga, and we also offer pilates and barre sessions every week.


You’ll also find a variety of yogis of all ages, abilities, shapes and sizes, so please feel confident to show up exactly as you are and feel supported and celebrated in your practice. We are a very friendly bunch!


The best way to sample everything we have to offer and find your place on the mat is to get yourself an Intro Pass and explore the different practices available at the studio.


See you on the mat!

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