by Marian Thornley

Our feet are a part of our bodies that is most often neglected and I have many yoga students who cannot even bear to look at or touch their feet. Yet, when our feet start to protest at this treatment, we soon start to complain. We rely on our feet to carry us around, to provide support for hours on end, sometimes squashed into ill-fitting shoes.

Our feet have a complex anatomy, consisting of 26 bones each, muscles, fascia and connecting tissue. It is important that they work well to provide good alignment for the rest of the body, and pyschologically they help us to feel grounded and centred, being the link between our bodies and the earth that supports us.
Yoga poses help to bring awareness to the importance of the feet, and to bring a suppleness and strength that assists in the maintenance of healthy feet.
Just try these simple exercises to help keep your feet in good shape.
First of all, stand with your feet a comfortable distance apart. Look down at them. Are they parallel? If not bring them to a parallel position. Is your weight equally balanced over all parts of the foot? Try swaying back and forth and from side to side to assess this. Lift the toes and stretch them apart as much as you can. Now see if you can put them back down onto the floor separately, keeping as much space between them as possible.
I call the next exercise the Ministry of Funny Walks. With bare feet try walking around the room, first of all on tiptoes, then on your heels, then on the right edge of both feet, the left edge, then one right edge and one left edge and vice versa. If you have a tennis ball handy, try rolling it under the sole of the foot. It looks funny but your feet will be grateful.
The next exercise is sometimes called Calf Pump, and it is a useful one to do before or during a long flight as it helps to avoid blood clots. In a standing position, press the ball of one foot into the floor as hard as you can. Then release and repeat on the other foot. Work on alternate feet for a few minutes before starting to move more quickly between the feet.
Having given your feet a workout, now it’s time to pamper them. Finish off with giving your feet a lovely massage!

Marian is a qualified yoga teacher, although she is not currently teaching.  She is particularly interested in the use of yoga as a tool for health and healing.

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