The feet appreciation society
From mountain pose and barefoot walking to a simple bit of toe wiggling, there are so many ways we can start to show our feet a little more appreciation. By Vicky Richings
How often do we spare a thought for our poor feet? Our feet carry the heaviest burden out of all our body parts. We expect them to walk or run us miles until they ache, we cage them in shoes – sometimes really uncomfortable ones. On the whole, they are a neglected part of our body. Okay, so the occasional pedicure or foot rub can be a treat for feet, but if we were to give our feet the attention that we gave, as an example, our core strength, then we would attend to them regularly.
Generally, feet are low on our priority list until we experience any kind of foot discomfort. This can be from cracked heels, blisters, corns, fungal issues, cramp or heel pain. It’s then that we start to appreciate just how important our feet really are to our everyday functioning.
In my yoga practice and teaching, I like to bring attention to the feet. When we are standing in mountain pose (Tadasana), if we take our awareness to the feet and to how the weight is distributed, it can help give a little insight into how we habitually stand and give the opportunity to find a different or more comfortable way.
Bringing attention to the feet in contact with the earth below allows us to feel more grounded in the mind; the feet can be a key player in the practice of feeling centred and calm. Another personal favourite foot-focused practice of mine, is foot stretching. This can be done on all-fours with the toes tucked under by gently bringing the body weight back until the sensation of stretch in the sole of the foot becomes pleasantly intense.
The front of the foot can get the same attention by sitting on a chair, curling the toes under toward the sole of the foot and then allowing the ‘knuckles’ of the toes to gently press into the ground. The level of stretch can be really well controlled in both these techniques.
Generally, feet are low on our priority list until we experience any kind of foot discomfort.
Regular stretching can help to avoid cramp in the feet, but beware as performing these stretches can also trigger cramp, so go easy! If you don’t fancy this, maybe a tennis ball to roll about using the sole of the foot is a preferable way to get a nice little foot massage.
Toe wiggling can also be a lovely sensation. Perhaps I’m oversharing, but if I eat something delicious, my toes wiggle with joy (maybe that’s just me then!). We can give our toes a good stretch by inserting the different fingers of one hand between each toe like holding hands with your foot. I am aware that this sometimes freaks people out, and that’s okay. Not everyone is as happy about touching their own feet as I am (maybe just me again!).
Feet weren’t really designed to be in shoes, they are capable of walking on an almost infinite amount of different surfaces, inclines and declines, smooth and rough. By practicing barefoot, we can free our feet, whether on our mats or outdoors on uneven ground; we are feeding our feet with information that can be used to help us balance and move.
So let’s take a moment to send our tootsies a little appreciation for all that they do for us and perhaps build in more foot focus to our yoga practice and our everyday routine.
Vicky Richings is the founder of Equanimity Yoga, co-founder of Your Yoga Training Limited, an experienced 500hr qualified yoga teacher, YTT and CPD tutor, mentor and podcast host. Visit: eqyoga.co.uk