Video : Yoga for Ankle Pain
You first of all need to approach the joint very gently. Many yoga poses forget to include the ankle - or think that the pose is about another part of the body, when actually the ankle is the focus. In kaiut yoga we do a lot of virasana sequences and the thought could be it's to open the knees or the hips to sit in those positions. Actually the virasanas are taught to concentrate on the ankles.
Why ankles are important?
The ankle joint is where the ground can come from the foot up the leg to the spine and head, and where the spine, head and torso can reach the ground through the legs.
Heaven to earth, earth to heaven through the body.
The ankles are also an incredibly important function of balance. And if they are not working well, you can loose balance.
Also if you have pressure in your knees or hips, it could be sourced from restrictions in the ankles. We tend to isolate our pain to where we feel it most. But we maybe experiencing referred pain. Transferred from another restriction, the body compensates and moves another part in a different way.
If your feet are not functioning properly in any way, the ankle opening could relieve those issues for you. Remember healthy feet, healthy body.
Most of us use our ankles very poorly. We walk without fully engaging that joint. We are unable to tolerate side flexions of the ankle (it results in a sprain).
Blood circulation, lymphatic system and subtle energy systems are all running through the body to keep us healthy. They all needs open joints as channels through which they flow, ankles are an important part of this healthy body system and should not be forgotten.
I discovered for myself how important ankle work was when hiking on Maple Mountain near my home here in beautiful British Columbia. I managed to twist the ankle and come down on it quite hard when climbing over a tree root.
It was one of those shooting pains and OOHH NO! what have I done? moments.
I stopped immediately to catch myself. After waiting a few minutes to let the pain subside I gingerly put pressure on the ankle again. I was still a little in shock, it was quite a jarring feeling of having the ankle collapse under me.
But the pressure I put was okay, I put a little more. I put weight on it. It was okay. I started to walk very slowly. Still okay. My mind was a little confused. Did that just happen? I was doubting the event of my ankle twisting away from underneath me.
It didn't compute, what my experience of the twisted ankle was and the experience of being able to keep walking. Thankfully I could walk back home (I was out on my own). And by the time I got home I'd forgotten all about it.
Then a day later I remembered. "Gosh!" I thought, "Was it yesterday I 'badly' went over and twisted my ankle?" I tried to feel into the ankle and there was nothing in the body to remember it.
I put it down to the past two years of sitting on my heels, feeling huge amount of sensations (pain if you will) for intense periods of time during my Kaiut Yoga practice. And seeing the results of having an ankle that is able to act more like a spring than a block.
Phew. Very grateful.
Here I take you through from yoga sequences in Virasana (kneeling) that will help open the ankle joint. And the video is designed for my 88 year old father who cannot sit on his heels or kneel, so they are modified for use with a chair.
Once you have watched and seen how to do the postures for the ankles, then I suggest you hold each foot in position for 30 seconds, increasing to a minute or two (or three) over time.
Remember to relax, let your shoulders down. The nervous system needs to be really calm to receive the benefit of the practice.