Reflect on the past 24 hours of your life. Where did you go? What did you do? Now, realize that your feet took you everywhere you needed to be, not only quietly accompanying you on the journey, but literally supporting you through all those moments. Often overlooked on the list of things we’re thankful for, if you think just how much use and abuse our feet endure, it’s truly incredible. Much of yoga is about awareness, so let’s give some attention to an under appreciated part of our bodies – our feet.
A lot weighs on our feet, both literally and metaphorically. Most obviously, the feet play a critical role in movement and mobility. However, they support more than just our bodies, especially when assisting others or carrying items. In addition to helping us get around, the simple support of our feet can have a huge impact on the rest of our body alignment.
When an injury or discomfort of the foot causes us to compensate by adjusting our gait, body weight can quickly become distributed in an unhealthy manner. For example, simply walking on the inside of the foot to avoid a blister on the outer edge can cause stress to the ankle and place the knee joint in a dangerous position that can cause a greater injury over time.
Attentive foot care is important for everyone, and it can particularly benefit yogis in balance poses, general body alignment, and overall body awareness. Here are a few ways to show kindness to your feet:
If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn’t, don’t. Society has erroneously trained us into believing that smaller feet on women are more beautiful, and bigger feet on men are more desirable. Often, this translates into women squeezing into a half-size smaller than they would naturally wear, and men ordering a size up to make their shoe size seem larger. This can cause serious discomfort and damage to your feet.
Shoes that are too small can scrunch toes into uncomfortable positions, making them unable to properly distribute body weight or maintain balance. Shoes that are too small can form gaps that result in abnormal rubbing and blisters. Honor your body by wearing your appropriate size.
Nail care. While some delight in regular pedicures, others cringe at the thought of taking time out of the day to trim toenails. Moderation is key when it comes to nail care. Excessive trimming can cause ingrown nails to form, while negligence can result in bacteria buildup.
Go bare every now and then. Weather permitting, it is super beneficial to air your feet out every now and then and wear sandals instead of shoes. Being constricted in socks and shoes all day can cause bacteria to grow. Similarly, give your toenails a break from nail polish every now and then to allow the nail to breathe in oxygen. You’ll notice that the clarity of the nail will improve.
Show your feet some love today and every day of your yoga journey to a harmonious mind, body, and spirit.