Feet are often the most underappreciated body part we have. As a yoga teacher I find that most people have incredibly tight ankles and feet so if that’s you, get ready to take a time out for some foot-lovin’ postures. At first, these poses might feel more like a medieval form of torture if it’s been a while since you gave your feet some attention, but fret not. The more you do these, the easier they get and you’ll start to notice a remarkable difference in the way you stand and walk.
Seated Toe Curl
Start by coming onto hands and knees with feet and knees together. Curl your toes under and sit back on your heels trying to keep your arches together and touching. You’ll start to feel it right away as the balls of the feet stretch and open up. When you can’t hold it any more, come back onto hands and knees, shake your feet out and come back to the pose a few more times. Try to work up to a full consecutive minute in the posture and eventually aim for five full minutes.
Hero’s Pose : Virasana
Move into hero’s pose on the top of your feet to give your ankles a little counter-stretch. If you feel this pose in your knees slide a pillow, block or anything else you can think of to minimize the intensity. If you feel ok and want to go deeper, start leaning back onto your hands or come flat onto your back for Supta Virasana, reclined Hero’s Pose. Stay for a least eight breaths or longer if you can.
Seated Toe Curl II
Come back to sitting on your heels with the toes curled under and step one foot forward with the knee pointing up and the arm resting on the leg. Breathe steady and deep through the nose and work up to eight breaths.
Seated Toe Curl III
Put one hand behind you and extend the leg out in front of you supporting it with the other hand. If you can’t reach the floor with your finger tips, slide a block under your hand. Breathe here for a few seconds playing with the balance. Your foot that is curled under should be feeling pretty stretched by now.
Seated Toe Curl IV
If you can take it one step further hold on to your big toe and raise the leg higher. You can also use a strap around the ball of the foot to get into this easier. Breathe through the nose for a few more seconds and then release to hands and knees. Shake your feet out a few times by lightly pounding the tops of the feet onto the mat. Repeat on the other side.
Half Lotus : Ardha Padmasana
From a seated position bring the top of one foot the opposite thigh. Try to get the foot as high on the thigh as possible near your hip crease. Breathe into any tight spots while working on getting both knees closer to the floor.
Marichyasana B : Posture of Sage Marichi
Keeping your half lotus on one foot and drag the other foot in til it’s firmly planted on the ground with the pointing up. Extend your left arm up and reach out in front of you to get some length in your spine and arm. Wrap that left arm around the front of the shin and reach back for the opposite arm around your back. See if you can connect your hands in a bind. It might not happen right away and that’s ok. Try using a stap to connect your hands if they don’t touch yet. Take five to eight breaths here. You wil feel a deep stretch in that right ankle.
If your body allows you to, start to lean forward, working your forehead towards the ground in front of you. This is very deep on the ankle so just be mindful, breathe and take your time. Repeat on the other side.
Practice all these poses a few times a week to give your feet the attention they deserve!