Your feet are essential to you. If you struggle with foot pain, you would know how incredibly dependent you are on your ankles, feet, and toes – I mean, they hold you up, although you may not pay much attention to them in your daily lives.
Although you wear shoes to protect your feet from injuries, to look good, sometimes these shoes are not your size, or you wear them all day, so your feet spend a great deal of time cooped up. In addition, as we age, many people develop inflammations in the soles, heels, and balls of their feet.
Also, factors like weight, posture, and favored hand and athletic activities like running, hiking, biking, etc., lead to developing foot issues and weak, unaligned feet.
For instance, when I started yoga, I found out how weak my feet really were. I couldn’t do the Tree pose properly for a very long time or settle into the Hero pose or Child pose, but through yoga, I learned to stand and take better care of my feet.
Yoga helps you learn to distribute your weight evenly; this way, you know to rest on your feet without putting too much pressure on one foot or just your heels, as most people are wont to do. Thus, you can stretch your feet and toes, use the balls of your feet rather than just your heels and strengthen your arches.
Strong feet mean you can have better balance in your posture, move better and stay grounded. Yoga helps you to achieve these while working on your feet flexibility and loosening your joints.
Here are a few poses to help you relieve the stress in your feet, toes, and ankles. Make sure you do them on a flat surface and barefooted.
Feet Yoga Warm-ups
Here are some basic moves to get your body ready for feet yoga.
1. Toes flex and crunches
This is a really basic movement of the toes. It feels delicious when done immediately after you have removed your shoes. On your seat, with your feet firmly on the floor, raise your toes and flex them, spread them as wide as you can, then bring the toes in, tightened together in a crunch, hold for a few seconds, then flex them again.
Do this slowly on both feet. During the crunches and flexes, don’t be too hard on your toes so that you don’t end up hurting them.
2. Standing toe stretch
You would need a yoga block for this; you can also roll up a thick blanket or your yoga mat for this. Here’s what to do, stand tall a couple of inches away from your prop, take a step towards it and rest only your toes on the prop.
Angle your foot so that your heel is grounded, the balls of your feet are angled up, and your toes are stretched against the block. To deepen the stretch, lean forward into your toes.
3. Feet mobility
On your feet, standing tall and straight, lean forward a bit and stand on your tippy-toes, make sure the balls of your feet also work, put some weight on them, afterward, stand on and ground your heels.
The movement should feel like you are rocking your body in a forward/taller and backward/shorter movement. You can match this with your breathing. Inhale on your tiptoes, exhale on your heels.
4. Ballet dancer
This movement works on your ankles. Sit on a chair or lie on the floor, then raise your legs a little bit and point your toes and flex your ankles like a ballet dancer going en pointe. Like the toe crunches, you have to be careful not to overdo it.
Feet Yoga Poses to Try
Here’s a list of the best feet yoga moves to practice today.
1. Hero pose
This pose caters to the heels, toes, and plantar fascias (the connective tissue between the heel and the ball of the foot). As a foot exercise, the Hero pose can be done with toes tucked and untucked. Tucked; from a kneeling position, with the balls of your feet pressed to the ground and heels up, gently sit back so that your butt rests on your heels.
You should feel your toes stretch under your weight, and your knees should be aligned and pointed straight. To deepen the toe stretch, settle down into the pose.
However, if your knees protest, tuck a folded blanket under your knees. Untucked; After a minute with your toes tucked underneath you, raise yourself on your knees, rest the top of your feet on the floor, widen the space between your feet, while keeping your knees together, and then sit in the space between your feet.
If your butt can’t reach the ground, place a blanket in that space and settle into it. You can also place a rolled-up blanket under your ankles if your feet are uncomfortable.
2. Tree pose
This pose works on your toes, balls of your feet, ankles, and knees. Grounded doesn’t get any better than this in the Tree pose. On your feet, shift your weight to your right leg, bend your left knee, raise it and bring it to rest on the side of your right leg around the calf area, or lift it higher up to rest on your inner right thigh.
For better balance, press your left heel into your right thigh, toes pointed down. Make sure your weight is distributed evenly on all parts of your right foot; engage your heels, toes, balls of your foot and press them into the ground. Then make the praying hands.
3. Butterfly/Bound Angle pose
This pose is popularly used as a hip-opener. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent position for self-administered foot massages. It’s also usually a very comfortable position. Sit comfortably on the ground and bring your feet together.
All parts of your feet should be brought together the way your hands would be to make the praying hands. Furthermore, your knees should be pointed in opposite directions and as wide apart as you can manage. Then, gently grab your feet and use your thumbs to massage your heels, then arches, then balls and toes of your feet till you have worked out the kinks.
Next, you may place a tennis ball between your feet, join the bottoms of your feet together, and gently roll it back and forth to work your arches properly. To work your toes, interlace your fingers with your toes; pay attention to the little toe.
Do this to stretch and create a more expansive space between your toes to improve blood circulation. This position is also a great way to know if you have flat feet or high arches.
This is another hip opener that does wonders for the feet. It pays particular attention to the ankles, the Achilles tendon, and the plantar fascia. You may do it with your toes tucked to stretch your toes and exercise the balls of your feet.
On the other hand, you may choose to do it with your feet grounded to sink deeper into the squat. To begin with, stand straight and tall with your feet apart and planted in the ground -remember that you must consistently evenly distribute your weight between all parts of your feet.
Second, make the praying palms with your hands, engage your core and your back straight, gently bend your knees and sink into a squat.
Note: As you sink into the squat, have your elbows pushed against your inner thighs, right behind your knees, to keep your knees aligned to your feet.
5. Downward-facing dog
This is one of the finest poses to stretch your back body. Apart from working on your spine, it stretches the hamstrings, calves, ankles, Achilles tendon, plantar fascia, and toes.
- First, start in a tabletop position – your hands, knees, and tops of feet flat on the floor. Make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart.
- Second, tighten your core, gradually raise your knees and straighten your legs, all the while keeping your hands and feet grounded and back straight.
- Third, to make your pose more comfortable and adequately exercise your feet, begin ‘walking the dog’ by lifting your heels (till you’re on the balls of your feet) and down.
To challenge yourself, you can try the Elevated Downward Dog; while in the basic downward dog, bend one of your knees while simultaneously grounding the heel of the opposite foot.
You need your feet to be in prime condition. They should be taken care of the same way you pay to other parts of your body. Incorporate these exercises, use props like foot rollers to help relax your feet, use relaxation oils and give your feet hot baths and massages, and your feet will always be as good as new.
Finally, yoga is healthy living.
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