1. Neutral Stance
70% of our brains information about movement comes from our feet (10% eyes, 20% ears). When our feet collapse (aka flat feet), the strain travels up into the hip joints or lower back. To alleviate, expand through the triangular base of your foot and ‘pump up’ your inner arches.
2. Check your Shoes
First off, familiarize yourself with how you naturally walk or stand. Check the bottom of your shoes and analyze where you tend to distribute your weight. How can you self-correct your gait? Increasing awareness around your everyday tendencies is crucial prior to improving your practice.
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3. Equilibrium Posture
There is a reason most yoga sequences start out with Samastitihi (Equal Standing)or Tadasana (Mountain Pose). These poses help us find equilibrium in our posture and grounding, sets the rest of our practice up for success with this attention to our feet (or roots).
4. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
Each standing pose in yoga will challenge our feet to shift out of our equilibrium we setup at the beginning of class. In Warrior III, it is common to launch on to your front leg and shift your weight to the ball of your foot. In return, this will unbalance the pose. Rather, as you straighten your front knee, think of pressing the head of the thighbone back. This grounds the heel into the floor, and stabilizes the position.
5. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Practitioners sometimes moan how their heels cannot relax to their mat from tight calves. But allowing your heels to stretch toward your mat starts with the stretch on the sole of your foot. Lengthening the plantar muscles is important to downward dog heel extension.
6. Widespread Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Think of the soles of our feet as the start of the back of your body. In a forward fold you can allow any negative energy from the soles of your feet flow up your legs and out of your spine and back of the head.
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7. Feet Flexion
Our feet do not receive nearly the stimulation they did decades ago when we were barefoot or walking on unpaved surfaces. It’s important to stretch both the top and sole of your foot. You can do this by pointing the tops of your feet in Hero Pose (Vriasana) and flexing the ball of your foot in a pose like Half-Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana).
8. Everyday Life
For everyday life, try walking around barefoot more in your home to develop a greater sensitivity to the surfaces under our feet. Also, find shoes that don’t constrict your toes and let your feet expand their full width.
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