The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Can Yoga Help Your Feet? Yes–Find Out How

Posted by on Monday, November 19th, 2012

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If you enjoy doing yoga, you probably don’t think too much about your feet other than maybe thoughts like, “Do my feet look weird?” “Do they smell?” “Is that person next to me staring at my feet?” “Oops, I still haven’t removed my cute Halloween-themed pedicure.” After all, your feet don’t get the kind of pounding in yoga that they get in running and other kinds of workouts, so why think about them beyond whether they’re helping you maintain your Utkatasana?

Actually, you can and should pay attention to your feet–there are yoga poses and stretches that are great for strengthening your feet, toes, and ankles, and strong feet can improve the rest of your yoga practices.

Here are some yoga stretches for your feet to get you started:

*Tip – Breathing is very important in yoga–and in the rest of your life!–so make sure you breathe deeply with each step or pose, exhaling and inhaling slowly and fully. When you exhale, visualize your breath traveling all the way down to your toes; when you inhale, imagine yourself drawing it back up from your feet.

  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you, knees slightly bent. Reach your hands forward, palms down, and lace your fingers between your toes. Pull your feet towards you gently, flexing them a bit. Hold this pose for about one minute, breathing deeply.
  • Stand with your feet together, parallel to each other. Rise up onto your toes, stretching as high and long as you can. Rest a hand on a chair or table for balance. Then lower down to the starting position and roll back through your feet so your weight is on your heels, lifting all your toes off the ground. Hold this for a few seconds so you feel a stretch in your calf muscles, making sure you breathe evenly. Lower your toes down and start over.
  • Start by kneeling. Then sink down until you are sitting with your butt on the ground, between your legs, not on top of them. Your feet should be stretched out, with the top of your foot on the ground. Keep your feet straight, not pointed outward or inward. If you find this difficult, or if you know you have knee problems, place a yoga block or towel between your legs to sit on. Hold, relax, and breathe (yoga pros no doubt recognize this as Virasana, or Hero Pose).

People who are experienced with yoga will also probably be familiar with other poses that are good for your feet, such as Downward Facing Dog:

Also, Lindsay Fields has a video here for yoga geared towards your feet, and here’s a simple yoga foot workout from ShaktiShala. Some people also recommend “yogatoes,” a simple device that you put between your toes to help stretch them out after a long day of being squooshed in shoes.

Yoga is good for the rest of your body, so why neglect your feet? Of course, if you have foot pain from doing yoga or any kind of workout, then stop doing it immediately and let your feet rest. If the pain doesn’t seem to be getting better, contact a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900  ). Keep your feet healthy and happy!

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.