Our feet were not designed for the concrete jungles we live in today. They are the overworked and underappreciated foundation of our very being. Thankfully, as yogis, we don’t have to search too far to find excellent foot care. We can simply practice yoga for feet!
Although there are incredible benefits to purchasing enhanced footwear and orthotics and spoiling ourselves with massages, pedicures, and reflexology treatments, how we articulate our feet can not only transform our posture, but also increase our performance in every other activity.
Our feet inform the way we move, the way we stand, and the way we ground into the earth.
Foot care can be a vital factor in functional pain reduction for those aches and pains that stem from misaligned or weak feet.
Yoga is embedded with advanced standing postures, squats, lunges, and toe stretches – so why not maximize your benefits with these principles as you practice yoga for feet?
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Here Are 5 Foot-tastic Benefits of Yoga for Feet:
First, let’s explore the benefits of practicing yoga for feet.
1. Improve Your Posture
The integrity of any structure is in its foundation.
The feet are the primary informant of the placement of the body’s most weighted structures – the pelvis, the rib cage, and the head.
When the feet are not evenly engaged, the body’s weight might favor the front body muscles (if more weight is held in the toes) or the back muscles (if more weight is held in the heels), which could result in strain anywhere up the postural chain.
Centering your weight begins in your feet and is the foundation of all good foot care.
2. Reduce Pain
Consequently, knee, hip, back, and neck pain could potentially have root causes in the feet.
By increasing the functionality of your feet, you’re able to support and protect all the other muscles and joints in your body.
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3. Enhance Your Performance and Balance
Most activities benefit from a little more spring in your step – from running to walking, surfing, or even standing in heels for an evening.
The arch of the foot acts like a trampoline, absorbing the forces of the body’s weight and also propelling you into the next step.
Weak arches mean there is more strain and impact, which is transferred to other muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons, and your range of motion is reduced.
Strong feet mean you have a long, powerful stride, can jump high and land softly, and have the added benefit of being able to pick up towels from the floor with your toes, cramp-free.
4. Tone Your Legs and Glutes
The musculature of the glutes, thighs, and calves connect right down into the arches of the feet through connective tissue.
When the feet are fully activated, the rest of the legs and glutes will gain deeper toning benefits. Think of when your teacher asks you to lift your toes during a pelvic bridge – you immediately feel the burn in the glutes.
Take This Strong Legs Flow on YA Classes
Join YA Classes teacher Alba Avella as she guides you through a short, sweet, and sweaty online yoga flow targeting your lower body. We plant a food-producing tree for every class our members complete!
5. Get Grounded
Grounding is an energetic term that describes the way our subtle body energy roots into the earth through our feet.
The positive electrons of our bodies are neutralized by the negative energies of the earth. When we’re grounded, we feel firm, steady, strong, confident, and connected to our surroundings.
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In movement terms, it can be useful to use this notion to improve balance and lengthen the spine.
When we practice yoga for feet, we actively push down into the ground, with activated feet, which creates an equal and opposite force energizing upward, creating length in the upper body.
When the body is fully active in the opposition, balance becomes easier, and the sense of “reaching through the crown of head” becomes easier to access in any posture.
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Here Are 5 Yoga for Feet Principles to Get You Started in Your Foot Care Practice:
Ready to try some yoga for feet practices? Add these principles to any yoga practice to give your feet some TLC.
1. Activate Pada Banda (Foot Lock)
Activate Pada Bandha any time your feet are in contact with the mat. Have fun with where you can sneak these additional sensations into unsuspecting postures.
Let’s try it:
Plant all four corners of your feet firmly into the ground – your big toe joint, pinky toe joint, inner edge of your heel, and outer edge of your heel
Lift your toes and spread them wide on the mat
Gently grip the mat with your toes
Sense the dome-like toning in your arch
Press firmly into the mat, and without movement, energetically draw the inner edges of your feet together
Simultaneously, draw the outer edges of your feet away from each other
Curious about energetic locks? Learn All About the Bandhas In Order to Deepen Your Yoga Practice
2. Stay Centered in Half Toe/Demi-Pointe Positions
In this position, the heel of your foot is lifted, but your toes stay pressed firmly into the mat (like in Plank Pose, lifting the heels in Downward Dog, or “Walking the Dog”).
Let’s try it:
Keep the center of the top of your foot in line with your second or middle toe, depending on the shape of the bones of your feet
Be cautious not to roll onto the outside of your ankle, or collapse in on your arch and favor the inner edge of your ankle
3. Sneak More Stretch Into Your Toes
In postures like Plank, enhance the stretch in your toes to strengthen your toes and your arch and improve flexibility in your feet.
Let’s try it:
Maintain the width of your toes
Keep all toes planted into the mat
Reach the top of your foot over your toes fully, keeping your arch centered
4. Center Your Alignment in Standing
Explore these minute adjustments in any standing postures to find the most ease. The body can work the most efficiently against gravity when the bones are stacked.
Let’s try it:
When standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), rock your weight forward into your toes and feel the activation in your front body
Rock your weight back onto your heels, and feel where your muscles light up
Do the same by shifting your weight from side to side
Now, float the weight of your torso over your feet to find the placement that feels the most centered, with the least strain
5. Activate a “Floint”/Barbie Foot
Here, the arch of your foot is in full extension but your toes flare up and out. In this position, muscles on both the front and the back side of your legs fully activate.
Activate your “floint” any time your foot leaves the mat. Notice how all your postures will feel more energized.
Let’s try it:
Start by fully pointing your foot, like a ballerina
Maintain the length of the top of your foot and flare your toes wide, widening the base of your toes
Add Yoga for Feet to Your Wellness Routine for Healthy, Happy Feet
Understanding the importance of footwork and exploring these principles in class will not only keep you engaged in postures, but also enhance the therapeutic and restorative foundations of your practice.
The benefits of healthy feet have an exponential impact on the rest of your body’s form and function. And, let’s be honest, we could all do with a little more spring in our step!
Review of the Awesome Toes! Toe Separators from Yoga Body Naturals (Video)