The feet in yoga

I often say in my classes that if we can sort out our feet, the rest follows. In daily life our feet spend too much time in trapped in shoes, unable to move, gradually declining in awareness, flexibility and responsiveness. Not only does this result in physical pain and discomfort, but it can have a negative effect on our sense of well being. Without an awareness of the ground beneath us, we can feel disconnected from the world and our lives. Reawakening our feet really can help us feel better in both body and mind.

Here are five of my favourite foot exercises…
1) Foot massage – a great way to get in touch with your feet and give them some much-needed TLC – there is a lovely one in yoga through the seasonsone of my favourite yoga books – and this lemon and peppermint foot oil makes it even more of a treat
2) Walking meditation with bare feet – ideally outdoors, weather permitting – for more inspiration see The Long Road Turns to Joy: A Guide to Walking Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
3) Take your left hand and right foot.  With your palm facing your sole, thread your fingers between your toes. Use the heel of your hand to massage the ball of your foot as your fingers help to create space between the toes. Repeat with right hand and left foot.
4) In sitting or standing encourage your toes to move individually with these two toe exercises.  First try keeping the big toes and the little toes down and lifting the three middle toes; if this is easy try bending the three middle toes once you have lifted them.  Next, starting with the big toes, try to lift your toes one by one; then, starting with the little toes try to place them down again one by one.  If your toes don’t co-operate you can use your fingers to hold them down.  With a little regular practice this becomes much easier!
5) Sit in kneeling with your feet (not ankles!) crossed – the bones of the top foot press into the inner arch of the bottom foot, providing an acupressure effect that can be wonderfully releasing in very intense way…enjoy!
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