Yoga for your Feet and Ankles

by : Lola Malaika

Many spiritual and healing traditions around the world believe that health starts in the feet. For centuries, Chinese medicine, Ancient Egyptian medicine and Ayurveda have been using various techniques such as foot massage, reflexology, and herbal foot baths to restore health and harmony in the whole body.

Through your feet, you link to the energy frequency of the Earth and feel grounded and rooted. When your feet are strong and flexible, they balance your whole system and enhance your physical and emotional well-being. According to Yoga and Ayurveda, the hips, heart and feet store the emotions people experience, so if you feel stuck, depressed or unhappy, then releasing the accumulated tension from your feet may actually help to bring the joy and lightness back into your life.

Unfortunately, for the majority of contemporary Western people, feet are the most neglected part of the body. Tight uncomfortable shoes, sedentary lifestyle, lack of air, movement and relaxation lead to chronic pain and even atrophy of some parts of the feet. On the other hand, the repetitive damaging movements found especially in some sport or dance activities can often provoke various conditions such as inflammation or osteoarthritis and lead to deformation, swelling and unbearable suffering of feet and ankles.

Below, we offer a few ways in which you can reconnect to your feet and make them stronger. 10-15 min per day will be enough to gradually restore the harmony in your feet and start the healing process in your entire body. Remember to practice mindfully, consistently, and with enthusiasm and love.

Exercise 1 Downward Dog with Foot Pedal.

Come to your Adho Mukha Śvānāsana (Downward Dog), press your hands firmly on your mat, and start pedalling your feet out, one at a time. Move slowly and breathe mindfully. You can also shift your weight on your toes, lifting your heels up, and then shift your weight on your heels, lifting your toes up. Repeat a few times and then release.

Exercise 2 Slow mindful barefoot walk with eyes closed.

Find a quiet safe place where you can move with your eyes closed. Close your eyes and start moving slowly and mindfully, bringing your whole attention to your feet. You can bend your knees for some extra stability. Imagine you are blind and deaf and your feet are your only eyes and ears.

Feel how your legs and feet support the weight of your whole body. Experiment with shifting your entire weight on one foot while holding the other one in the air and observe the emotions and sensations you experience now. Try to distribute your weight equally on the whole surface of your foot — on your toes, midfoot and heel.

*If you find it difficult to keep your eyes closed, you can cover them with a scarf or a small towel. Also, you can try walking on stones or uneven surfaces to stimulate your feet even more.

Exercise 3 Happy Baby.

Lie down on your back, bend your knees into your belly and find your Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby) by grabbing your ankles or feet and opening the knees slightly wider than your torso. Massage your feet, circle your ankles in both directions or find other intuitive stretches and moves that feel good.

Exercise 4 Foot Massage.

Sit down on your mat and massage your feet with your hands. Use your intuition to find the movements and touch that your feet enjoy.

*Some of the benefits of foot massage include: 1. Better blood circulation 2. Better stability, balance and awareness of your feet. 3. Relaxation and release of negative emotions (confusion, anger, fear, doubt).