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Head Or Is It Feet For Business?

Written by: Janine Naman, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Our posture and alignment through our feet and legs and how we stand upon the earth matter more than you think and affect how we communicate and are received by others.


70% of our brains' information about movement, the environment and how we fit in comes from the feet.

Our impressive feet and legs bring this information to the brain through somatosensory perception (sensory stimuli coming from the skin), proprioception (sense of the body's position) and the limbic system. The limbic system (an interconnected network of the brain associated with basic needs, emotions, memory, sensory processing, instincts, actions and behaviour) ensures that our feet react instantly to any threat such as falling or needing to run away. The limbic system will respond whether it is perceived danger or actual danger, whether the situation is at work or home. We’re constantly taking in information from our outer world, which generates pre-conscious autonomic nervous system responses. In other words, our feet and legs continually ensure our protection and survival and are one the first parts of our body to react to fight/ flight/ freeze stimuli, ensuring readiness for action whenever we are sitting, standing or walking around in the world. Before we've even had time to develop a conscious plan, our limbic brain has already ensured that our feet and legs are ready to freeze in place, run away or kick out in defence.

When we think of body language, we often think of only facial expressions telling a tail of our emotions and mindset. Knowing this, many people have conquered the "poker face" of zero expression that usually would indicate how they feel about the situation, but our feet and legs are the ones to watch. According to ex-FBI agent Joe Navarro (an expert on deception, espionage, interrogation, reading people and Author of ‘What Every Body is saying’), "so much about us emotionally can be read through the feet and legs.


Nervousness, caution, boredom, restlessness, happiness, joy, awkwardness, confidence, depression, and anger can manifest through the feet and legs".


Foot and leg posture can convey a wealth of information about how a person feels and give hints about their personality characteristics, such as whether they are confident, open, or a pushover, collapsed or submissive. Foot position can also show you if people are interested in you and what you have to say or not, simply by looking to see if their feet are turned toward or away from you. Foot position and leg stance (wide or narrow) is also a great way to spot hidden intentions or feelings.


Emerging studies in cognitive science have begun to discuss embodied cognition which is the idea that the mind is not only connected to the body but that the body influences the mind. The back and force information exchange from the brain to the feet and the feet to the brain creates an information highway that influences how our body reacts. The two-way information also means our body posture can trigger our mind to activate corresponding emotions. In other words, your "feelings" come from what your nervous system tells you about the outside world, even if you are alone and no one can see us. When our feet are out of alignment, it affects our perception of the world, causing the body to feel unsafe and ungrounded, like standing on the edge of a cliff. After all, just walking alone causes an external pressure of 1.5 x of your overall weight to be absorbed by the body (the theory is called ground reaction force). That means a 150 lbs person has a force of 225lbs moving through your body with each step. If this alignment is off, we are not planted firmly on the ground; the body must work extra hard to feel balanced and safe. Misalignment causes undue muscle tension, energy loss, asymmetrical balance, heightened emotions, and imbalanced stress response, which paint a picture of how we feel inside to others.


When I first met my client Jessica she complained not only about pain in her lower back and knees but that she was struggling at work to fit in and feel confident. The first place I looked at was her feet (knowing that habitual misalignments can also be the source of many aches and pain in our feet, knees, legs, hips and lower back), and sure enough, she was standing in a misaligned state. When we are mentally unsure of ourselves, our feet will often reflect this with a misalignment like pronation (the bones of the foot rotate so that the weight is borne mainly on the inside of the foot) which usually accompanies a collapsed core and a lack of centeredness and an assuredness. I have often witnessed that changing our posture can change how we feel inside, from feeling closed off and guarded to more present, confident, and relaxed.


I taught Jessica the practice that follows and asked her to be very aware of how she stood at work. When we met again, she told how she was in an impromptu meeting with her colleagues that week and, as before, felt herself collapsing as she stood there trying to contribute to the conversation to no avail. She remembered the practice, planted her foot triangles on the floor, and stood tall. She said she felt more substantial and confident in her body, which showed because as soon as she did, her colleagues included her in the conversation as if by miracle. I laughed and reminded her that our posture conveys so much more than we realize and what she just did was tell her co-workers that she knew her stuff and had something valuable to say.


Not only does proper foot alignment improve our posture, but it also calms our nervous system, lowering our stress hormones and releasing the hormone testosterone. Balanced testosterone levels have been proven to increase confidence in both men and women. Being less reactive to stress and having the ability to handle pressured situations is a key to effective workplace interactions. Think of your favourite leader or mentor; how do they carry themselves? Would their message/influence be as powerful if they were collapsed, closed off, looked stressed or uptight?


Stand up right now, notice how you are standing and ask yourself.

  • Do I slouch or stand up straight most of the time?

  • What story is my posture telling?

  • Do my internal feelings cause me to sit or stand in specific ways?

  • Without looking, can I outline my feet in my mind?

  • How steady do I feel on my feet? If I close my eyes and lift all ten toes, do I wobble a little or a lot?

  • Are my knees and feet pointing directly ahead? Or do they point outward or inward? Is it happening on both feet or just one?

  • Is the weight evenly distributed between the feet? Or do I stand on one more than the other?

  • Is the weight evenly distributed across the foot surface, or do I tend to stand with more weight on big toes, baby toes or heels?

  • Do the knee caps track over the toes when I bend from the hips and knees?

  • Do I feel grounded and connected?

Grounding Practice


Try this practice in front of a mirror to see your feet and posture.

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart (approximately two fists side by side wide in between feet to measure)

  • Stand with your feet parallel like on a railway track.

  • Ideally, your feet point directly ahead, but everyone is different. The key is that the hip socket is in line with the middle of the knee cap – the knee cap in line with the centre of the ankle joint - the ankle in line with the second toe, and both feet pointing in the same direction. This alignment acts as a plumb line for the energy force to distribute from feet to hips evenly.

  • Next, Wake up your feet and legs, start to wiggle toes, roll around the outer edges of the foot, roll through the ball of the foot, lift all five toes and then place each toe down one at a time (like playing the keys on a piano), spread your toes wide, stretch your feet, roll your ankles and shake out your legs.

  • Begin to imagine a triangle on the bottom of your foot. Big toe mound point 1 – Baby toe mound point 2 – Center of heel point 3 – Roll around the triangle touching in with each position. Change feet

  • Now roll around the triangle with both feet going in the same direction (like around the clock); make large circles to start; test the edge before it feels like you're falling over. Feel the muscle tension from being out of the centre – keep winding inward until you feel balanced and centred, and the body sinks in place: your face, jaw, shoulder and buttocks relax.

  • Now try putting both feet in an exaggerated position example: let both feet roll to the large toes mounds and hold for a minute; what happens? Does your posture change? Do you appear confident or shy? Do you feel steady and secure? What happens when you bend your knees do they buckle inward? Try rolling both feet to the baby toes mounds and notice what happens here. Is there discomfort? or energy loss?

  • Return to your foot triangles, evenly pressing your weight at the three points.

  • Stand tall, reaching through the top of your head, shoulders, and face relaxed. Take a deep breath and imagine your feet rooting down like a tree.

  • Look at your posture. Do you look self-assured, confident and relaxed? Can you stand your ground, or do you feel like you could be easily pushed over?

Changing how we feel about ourselves is complicated and very multi-levelled, but this is one of those times that I am an advocate of fake until you make it. Change takes time and practice but remember what we do in the body also affects the mind, emotions and hormones. Stand in your foot triangles enough times a day to influence your body and mind connection, showing the world your confident, radiant self until you feel it.

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Janine Naman, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Janine Naman is a versatile, compassionate and intuitive guide. Helping clients understand their mind-body connection with transformational practices that empowers them to find balance and wholeness.


Janine brings wellness to life with her embodied knowledge of anatomy and movement. Discover your true fundamental healing potential and understand ways to manage physical, mental and spiritual challenges. Learn practices that can alleviate suffering on all levels and restore your body’s natural balance through this holistic approach.


Having studied since 2002, Janine has guided thousands of classes and private sessions. She holds multiple certifications along with the numerous accolades received throughout her career. Her mission is to help people elevate their life and master the relationship between mind, body, and spirit.


Certified Yoga Therapist, Emotional Freedom Technique/Tapping Practitioner, Reiki Master, Spiritual Coach, Energy worker, Chi Gong instructor, Advanced Yoga Instructor and Author

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