Put Your Best Feet Forward: Yoga for the Feet

How much does the average person think about their feet? Not enough! These strange little guys at the ends of our legs do so much for us, day in day out. Luckily yoga practice encourages us to take off our shoes and socks, stretch our toes, and feel our soles meet the earth.

Why are feet so important?

Healthy feet are a key element to a healthy body! Many experts, from podiatrists to osteopaths to yoga teachers agree that proper alignment in the feet can stave off not only foot problems, but knee, hip and back trouble as well. When we look at the body holistically, as we do in yoga, this certainly stands to reason.

So how do I find this proper alignment?

Next time you’re on your yoga mat, try making a little date with your feet. Give them a massage by rolling them over a tennis ball, pressing the ball into the sole of your foot as you roll. When you have rolled out one foot, find Tadasana and note the difference between each foot. Many practitioners experience a greater sense of connection to the earth in the activated foot!

NOTE: do not try this massage if you are pregnant, due to meridian lines associated with miscarriage present in the feet.

Next, focus on the four corners of your feet – the big toe mound, baby toe mound, right side of the heel and left side of the heel. Notice where your weight naturally falls, then try to redistribute the weight evenly to find a truly strong foundation.

Now stretch those toes!

Yoga teachers are always telling us to spread our toes wide. Of course this helps with balance, but did you know that when we lift our toes, and ground through the toe mounds, we are naturally lifting those all-important arches? Further, keeping our toes stretched and able to articulate individually helps to prevent all sorts of ailments from bunions to hammer toes.

Going deeper

Yogically speaking, our feet do much more than hold us up as we walk around. They serve to connect us to the earth, and can be key to balancing the first Chakra, Muladhara. When we connect our feet to the ground, we awaken our feeling of the right to be here and the safety of the earth.

In Eastern Body, Western Mind, Chakra expert Anodea Judith explains her practice of having clients stand to work with first Chakra issues. “Doing psychological work while standing increases the body’s energy, allows greater assertiveness, overcomes passivity, and supports independence. The mere act of standing is an assertion of autonomy.” She draws our attention to metaphors such as “taking a stand,” “having a leg to stand on,” and “putting one’s foot down,” as examples of how the connectedness of the feet plays a vital role in one’s ability to feel comfortable in the world.

While it may be unrealistic to spend our lives barefoot and grounded every second of the day, taking the time to care for our feet is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. So make them a focal point of your practice from time to time, in gratitude for all they do for you!

Julia Tausch practices yoga and writing in Hamilton, Ontario. She is a certified yin yoga instructor, as well as the author of the novel Another Book About Another Broken Heart. She is currently completing her second novel and blogging about the process.


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