by Rebekah L Fraser
I have fallen in love with my ankles. This is weird, because I’ve never really noticed them before, except for that time I rolled my left foot so far over that I broke the fifth metatarsal and pulled all the ligaments in my ankle, like tree roots from the ground. Other than that excruciatingly painful moment—and the excruciatingly painful following six weeks when my ankle and foot were the focus of my attention—I haven’t really spent much time contemplating the ankles, looking at them, or marveling at everything they do for me on a daily basis… until now.
These days, my ankles appear as quiet goddesses, asking little but giving so much, wielding, yet not flaunting, their power to hold the weight of me in flats or heels, on smooth floors or rocky terrain. These amazing beings have been with me from day one, and I’ve scarcely noticed them. Now all I can think is: “I LOVE my ankles!”
It may be new, but this isn’t a shallow kind of love, nor is it lust or a one-night stand. This is what Etta James would call “a Sunday kind of love.” It’s the kind of love you honor at an altar, in a temple, with ceremonial candles.
The Origin of My Love Story
Grace Jull, MA, LMYT, E-RYT 500, is our guest lecturer on anatomy. In her view, the body is sacred terrain, not just a temple of the soul, but a vast and wondrous landscape. Hearing her, I realize that anatomy is simply a map that the yoga teacher can use to help students traverse the sacred terrain safely and reverently. After all, yoga comes from the root word yuj, which means yoke or union. Body parts are interconnected. Like the landmasses of the earth, the bones that form the human skeletal system are yoked either by ligaments, muscles, tendons, or fascia.
“The skeleton is sculpted by movement,” Grace tells us, explaining how one’s activities in youth have an effect on the development of bones.
After our anatomy lesson, Grace leads our afternoon sadhana (yoga practice). As she guides us into postures, she explains how each aspect of the skeleton is affected by the pose.
In Goat pose, I can feel the energy rising from my feet up through my ankles, which are burning in the most delicious way. The warm tingling sensation travels up my shins. This deliciousness opens something in me—a new kind of reverence for the sacred terrain. My knees are often creaky thanks to years I spent contorting my body in classical ballet. Now my knees are drinking in the heat as it rises toward them. My knees are thanking me.
In general, bones like to be stacked, so the patella (kneecap) is happiest when it rests directly above the tibia and fibula (bones in the lower leg), which rest directly above the calcaneus (heel bone). Goat pose is showing my patellas a new place to hang out. Now they touch and hang directly over the big toes, which press into the floor. The toes are turned in touching, and the heels are turned out. It’s the opposite of ballet’s First Position. In Goat pose, the tibia and fibula rise from the ankle at an angle that allows the femurs (thighbones) of my upper legs to rest against each other.
Despite the awkward appearance, I can relax in this pose. I rest here, feeling the new sensation in my ankles as I get to know them a little better. It may be our “first date,” but I quickly learn just how much there is to love about these joints that I have so often taken for granted.
Rebekah is a freelance writer and consultant who studied in Kripalu’s 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program. This is the second in a series of guest blog posts she is writing for the Kripalu blog, Thrive.