FOR THE TOES

Toes: far too often we forget about them, yet they are so very important. They are key to balance in your feet, which obviously affects your full body alignment. Babies are born with such perfect little feet and toes. I have a three-year-old grandson whose feet I keep an eye on with great admiration! I also have students in their 30s, 50s, 70s and older, and it seems that as we age, our feet and toes take a beating! Pointy shoes, arthritis, and poor walking habits all take their toll! This post will outline a wonderful exercise that I do with all my students to help with alignment and circulation. For some this is painful at first, but still valuable. Once learned, it is best done in a warm bathtub or spa, which makes it easier.

Start by sitting comfortably, with your right ankle crossed above your left knee, and with the right knee going out to the side. You can have your other leg straight out in front, or if you are more flexible, you can sit with it bent under the right leg (partially cross-legged). Your right ankle and foot need to be loose so you can rotate them freely.

Next, from the bottom of your foot, work your fingers of the opposite hand (the left one, in this example) between each toe. Try to meet the webs of your feet with the webs of your hands, not just the fingertips. For many, this might be painful and will be a slow process to get to this point. If this is true for you, then do what you can and continue to work on it over a period of days, weeks, or months. Now, keeping your right foot relaxed, squeeze your fingers and gently massage the tops of your feet. At the same time, use your left hand to help rotate the right foot and ankle. Do this for 6 breaths, rotating for 3 breaths in each direction.

When you finish rotating, relax your hand, but keep your fingers between your toes! This time, squeeze with your toes, especially the little toe that often has weaker muscles. This may feel uncomfortable, but try to hold for 6 breaths, once again rotating in each direction as described above.

When you have finished your 6 breaths, keep squeezing, and take the thumb of your right hand and place it around the big toe of your right foot. Place the little finger of your right hand around the little toe of your right foot. Then, squeeze them together (while still squeezing with the toes!) Hold this for 6 more breaths, and try not to grimace!!!

After you have completed the 6 breaths, very slowly remove one finger at a time from between your toes. Ahhhhh! It feels as if your toes are breathing!!! (Or, for some it just feels great to stop squeezing them!) There are pressure points on both your toes and fingers that have been stimulated and so this is also terrific for the circulation in your feet. Don’t forget to repeat on the other foot.

Besides stimulating the pressure points and circulation, this exercise also helps to keep your toes aligned. Many of my students love this exercise and have nicknamed it “Toe Jam Asana”. I won’t tell you what those who find it painful call it! This is one of those exercises that needs to be done but for many does not offer much pleasure until it is completed. I keep reminding those students that their toes are only telling them how unhappy they are and therefore how much they need to do this exercise! Enjoy your happy feet!

If you have any question or comments, feel free to email me at shsh@yogawithshoosh.com.

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