Why We Practice
“Yoga is not only learning to stand on your head but learning to stand on your feet.”
There are countless reasons to begin a yoga practice. Many of us come to find grounding and peace of mind. Perhaps we come to find mental and emotional healing, or even a spiritual connection. And we come to heal our physical bodies, restoring natural range of motion to areas that ail us. When we feel our best, in a happy body, the benefits seep into other areas of our lives.
Feet Are the Foundation
"A man's tracks tell quite a true story. They inform quietly about ankles and knees, but they shout the news about hips and pelvis…”
If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you’ve likely heard cues from your teacher regarding how to plant your feet in order to achieve stability and balance.
Three key points to root down on the sole of your foot are: the front of the heels, the roots of the pinkie toes and the roots of the big toes.
This triangular base provides strength as we move through our practice. You may also hear cues to lift and spread all of your toes, then place them back onto your mat. This motion helps to stretch your toes and allows them to fall back into a natural position.
Misalignment or uneven weight distribution can cause issues in other areas of the body, and bringing an awareness to our feet during practice can be both healing and relaxing.
Healing From the Ground Up
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”
Our feet can take quite a beating just in day-to-day life, and it’s common to develop foot pain or related problems over time. Regardless of diagnosis, cause or severity, foot pain can seriously inhibit our ability to enjoy life to its fullest. While yoga is often not a cure-all, there are simple postures and stretches that can help alleviate symptoms and promote foot health.
On the Mat
- Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Standing tall, all major joints aligned with feet firmly rooted
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog): To stretch the underside of the feet
- Virasana (Hero Pose): Seated kneeling position that stretches the tops of the feet
- Kneel with your toes curled under
- Gently roll a tennis ball against the underside of your foot
- Interlace your fingers between your toes, applying a comfortable amount of pressure to give a gentle stretch and help increase circulation
Check out this page for more visual direction on some helpful yoga postures and stretches.
For in-depth guidance, your yoga teacher is always your best resource!
Beyond the Mat
Letting your feet be in their natural shape is healthy. Go barefoot (when possible), stretch your toes and release tension.
Choose footwear that fits well and does not contort your feet into unnatural shapes and positions.
And most importantly, practice bringing awareness to your feet. What feels good? What doesn’t? Is your weight rolling to the outside or inside edges of your feet, or do you feel an even foundation? What self-care practices can you implement to give your feet a dose of R&R after a long day of work, exercise, etc?
Our feet have a very important job! They are roots, anchors and a vehicle to wherever life takes us. Treat them well, and they will carry you on countless adventures.