in Be Yoga

Yoga Poses for Happy Feet

Try these yoga poses in order to refresh tired, achy feet and help regain your postural alignment and stability.

Our feet connect us to and move us about the earth, and they are also the foundation for our postural alignment, stability and balance. But all the cute high heels, pointy toed shoes and flip flops we wear can wreak havoc on the natural flexibility and strength of the feet, and misalignments and tightness in the feet can carry up through the entire body. This sequence is designed to refresh tired, achy feet and help regain or maintain the foot’s natural alignment and flexibility.

Standing mountain pose helps you to balance your weight between all four corners of your feet. The balance and alignment you find in your feet reverberates up through your entire body.

HALF ANKLE TO KNEE POSE with Fingers Interlaced with Toes (Agnistambhasana variation)
Spreading the toes with the assistance of the fingers helps to undo the effects of squeezing the toes together into shoes all day. It is a strong release for the muscles of the toes.

To get into the posture:
Sit with your sits bones on a blanket and extend your left leg straight forward from the hip. Cross the right ankle over the left thigh, just above the knee joint. Keep the right foot flexed and the bottom of the foot facing directly sideways rather than up toward the ceiling or down toward the floor. Interlace your fingers with your toes, starting with the thumb between the big toe and the second toe; your pinkie finger should be outside the pinkie toe. Stay for 5-10 slow, deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.

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Helpful Hints:

  • If your toes are tight and a full interlace is not possible, try only interlacing the fingertips with the toes, rather than the thicker bases of the fingers. Gradually work your way toward a deeper interlace over time.
  • If your hips are tight and half ankle to knee pose causes your low back to round or your knee to hurt, sit on more than one blanket or a yoga block. If you elevate the hips significantly, make sure to place a rolled up towel under the extended leg to keep the knee from hyperextending.


BOUND ANGLE POSE with Flexed Feet (Baddha Konasana variation)
This variation of bound angle pose strengthens the muscles of the feet and stretches the arches.

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To get into the posture:
Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together and the knees apart wide like a book, letting the knees sink toward the floor. Press the heels, the big toe ball mounds and the pinkie toe ball mounds of the two feet strongly against one another, and flex the toes back away from one another. Stay for 5-10 breaths.

Helpful Hints:

  • If this posture puts pressure on your knees or if your lower back is rounded, sit on a blanket or block, and possibly a block under each knee.
  • To add a hip and inner thigh opener, fold the torso forward and rest the forearms on the floor and the head on a block.


RECLINING BIG TOE BALANCE (Supta Padangusthasana variation)
This posture warms up and strengthens the feet, shins and calves, as well as lubricating the ankle joint. It is also a very effective stretch of the hamstrings.

To get into the posture:
Lie on your back with your left leg extended in front of you, and straighten your right leg up toward the ceiling directly above the hip. Hold on to the back of the thigh a little above the knee joint. Press the thigh forward into the hands, flex the quadriceps, and point and flex the foot 5 times. Maintaining the press of the thigh into the hands and the flexion of the quadriceps, pull the leg toward your torso a couple inches farther and point and flex the foot five more times. Pull the leg a couple inches more toward the torso, and point and flex the foot a final five more times. Release the leg slowly down to the floor, and repeat the sequence on the other side.

Helpful hint:

  • If hamstring flexibility prohibits you from bringing the leg on top of the hip or holding the back of the thigh, loop a strap around the thigh instead.


THUNDERBOLT POSE (Vajrasana)
This posture strongly stretches the ankles and the tops of the feet. It also strengthens the bottoms of the feet and can be very helpful for fallen arches.

To get into the posture:
Come onto your hands and knees, and bring your knees and your feet together to touch. Sit down on your heels; your thighs should rest on top of your calves, and your bottom should rest on your heels. Do not let your feet turn out or in; the feet should be parallel with the shins. Rest your hands on your thighs. Stay 5-10 breaths.

Helpful hints:

  • If you are unable to sit all the way down with your thighs resting on your calves, or if you feel pain in your knees, place a blanket under your sits bones and on top of the heels to create extra support. Use more than one blanket if needed.
  • If you feel too much pressure on the shins or tops of ankles, place a rolled towel under each ankle.

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THUNDERBOLT TOES POSE (Vajrasana variation)
This posture is an intense stretch of the toes and the bottoms of the feet.

To get into the posture:
From the previous vajrasana variation, stand on the knees, and tuck the toes under. Use your hands to help the pinkie toe tuck under with the rest of the toes. Sit on the heels, rest your hands on your thighs, and stay for 5-10 breaths.

Helpful hints:

  • This pose can be incredibly intense on the feet and toes at first. Take breaks as needed by standing on the knees briefly, then slowly sinking back down onto the heels. Do not stay in the posture if you are in pain.
  • If you feel pressure in the knees, sit with a blanket between the buttocks and the heels.


DOWNWARD FACING DOG (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward facing dog lengthens the entire backs of the legs. It stretches the hamstrings, calves and the bottoms of the feet.

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To get into the posture:
From hands and knees, walk your hands a few inches forward from your shoulders. Feet should be hip bone width apart, and hands should be shoulder width apart. Press through your hands to send your hips back towards your heels, aiming for a straight line from your fingertips through your tailbone. Maintain the straight line of the upper body, and gradually straighten the legs, lifting the hips high and pressing the heels down toward the floor. Stay for 5-10 breaths.

Helpful Hints:

  •  If you are unable to maintain the straight line from fingertips to tail, keep your knees bent in downward facing dog.
  •  For an extra stretch in the calves, lift your right leg a few inches off the floor and surround the Achilles tendon of your left foot with the toes of the right, and use the right foot to press the left heel down toward the floor. Repeat with the other leg.

STANDING MOUNTAIN (Tadasana)
Standing mountain pose helps you to balance your weight between all four corners of your feet. The balance and alignment you find in your feet reverberates up through your entire body.

To get into the posture:
Stand with your big toes together and the second toes parallel to one another; the heels may be slightly apart. Pick up all the toes off the mat, spread them wide, and then put them back down. Rock forward, backward, and side to side, finding the weight of your body balanced on each foot between the big toe ball mound, the pinkie toe ball mound, the inner and outer heel. Flex the quadriceps, drawing the kneecaps up in the direction of the hip bones. Draw the belly button up and in, creating stability through your core. Roll the shoulders down and back. Stay for 5-10 breaths.


LEGS UP THE WALL (Viparita Karani)
This posture relieves tired and achy feet, and feels refreshing to the entire body. It drains blood and lymph fluid that may have pooled in your feet from being upright all day.

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To get into the posture:
Sit on the floor beside a wall with one shoulder touching the wall. Drop back onto your elbows, then lift your legs and spin around so your bottom is against the wall and your legs extend up the wall. Flex your feet as though they are standing on the ceiling, then let the feet and legs relax. Rest for 5-10 minutes.

Helpful Hints:
• If your hamstrings are tight and you find that when you relax the legs your knees bend and your feet slide off the wall, scoot back farther away from the wall rather than having your bottom touch the wall.

• A yoga sandbag placed on the bottoms of the feet helps relax tired feet. Have a friend place it there for you, or to do it yourself slide your feet down the wall toward the hips, place the sand bag evenly across your feet, then slowly slide your feet back up the wall.

 

 

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