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Finding Relief from Foot Pain and Fallen Arches

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In each yoga class my feet feel like they’re on fire or I’m standing on red-hot coals. I have flat feet, and I consistently feel physical and mental agony due to throbbing foot pain when I practice. What’s happening and how can I minimize this?

—ML Wilson

Aadil Palkhivala’s reply:

Being flat-footed myself, I know how sharp and agonizing the pains in the arches can be. I used to get them constantly during the first decade of my practice. Now I do not get pains any more.


There is a three-part solution. First, a daily practice of Virasana, which stretches the top of the foot and strengthens the arches, is necessary. Do Virasana (with buttocks on a folded blanket or a block if necessary) for 10 minutes each day before bedtime. In fact, do Virasana whenever possible. I have found that doing Virasana for a cumulative time of about 45 minutes each day helps dramatically in reducing the pain. I prefer to do it all at once, around bedtime when I am doing my prayers and pre-sleep reading.

During the practice of this wonderful pose, massage the arches of your feet, pressing on the arches as if cultivating an arch with your thumbs. Also, spread your toes as far apart as possible to avoid foot cramps during Virasana.

While practicing standing poses, carefully press the big toe mounds and inner heels down into the floor, and powerfully recoil the arches up into the inner ankles. This may be difficult initially, but will eventually build the strength that you need in your arches.

Finally, to further strengthen your arches, sit on a chair and put a flat, large sheet of paper on the floor in front of you. Place your heels on the paper and roll it into a compact ball using only your toes to do so. This may also cause a little cramping in the arches initially, but will strengthen them in the long run. To relieve the cramping, sit in Virasana with the toes spread and massage the arches strongly with your thumbs.

Recognized as one of the world’s top yoga teachers, Aadil Palkhivala began studying yoga at the age of seven with B.K.S. Iyengar and was introduced to Sri Aurobindo’s yoga three years later. He received the Advanced Yoga Teacher’s Certificate at the age of 22 and is the founder-director of internationally renowned Yoga Centers™ in Bellevue, Washington. Aadil is also a federally certified Naturopath, a certified <a href=”/health/ayurveda“>Ayurvedic Health Science Practitioner, a clinical hypnotherapist, a certified Shiatsu and Swedish bodywork therapist, a lawyer, and an internationally sponsored public speaker on the mind-body-energy connection.