As long as we are healthy, we take it for granted that our body functions as it should do.
When was the last time that you thanked your feet for carrying you to your destination – day after day, year after year?
I used to bush-walk and we often talked about boots, orthotics, dome under the ball of the foot, corns and bunions. No-one of these topics are sexy but as we age the shape of the feet change and we cannot ignore this.
With the arrival of spring it is the right time to exercise our toes which have been enclosed in shoes for months!
Let’s start with the easiest form of exercise: walking barefoot.
You can do it on the beach or walk on the grass. Both are emotionally grounding activities and allow the small muscles in your feet to stretch and strengthen and joints to move.
Be mindful when you walk barefoot. Notice how you roll onto the ball of the foot and then you push away from the ground. Progressively increase the time you walk, do not overdo it as you might end up with sore feet. The sand will dry your feet so use a moisturiser after walking!
I practice the following exercises while sitting.
Use a blanket or big towel and fold it (see above) to sit on. Sit towards the rounded edge so your hips roll a bit forward, the spine is upright. Keep your feet hip width apart.
Observe your feet in a relaxed state. Notice the difference between right foot and the left!
Flex your toes towards you. Feel that you stretch the back of the legs. If you are an experienced yogi, pull up your knee caps and quadriceps – just as if you were standing on your feet. Move your toes away from you. Repeat this cycle 5 times – 2 or 3 times a day.
Spread your toes. Observe if there is an asymmetry between the right and left foot. If you have a bunion like me the joint stiffens and the gap between the big toe and second toe decreases.
Make a fist with your toes. Repeat this cycle 5 times – 2 or 3 times a day.
Bend the legs and bring the soles of the feet together. Align your heels. This is the cobblers’ pose (or badhakonasana). Now move your toes away from each other.
Visualise interlacing your fingers. Now try to interlace your toes, starting with the little toes. Try the other side.
You can do these poses with your hands too. They will help with the management of arthritis, will keep to keep the joints more mobile.
Once you finished the sitting poses come up to standing and get a tissue.
Place it on the ground with one corner facing one foot (hard surface is better than soft). The aim is to scrunch the issue until it disappears under your toes! Try with the other foot with a new tissue!
I believe some yoga can be done anywhere not just in a studio and you do not need the latest leotard! Yoga is for any shape or size and any age!
Oh – and try a new colour of nail polish – maybe to match or contrast your yoga mat 😊!
Enjoy your yoga!