Yoga Tip: Heeling Feet – Yoga builds strength from the ground up1
Falling arches, plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, and other foot problems seem to be common ailments for many individuals. Periodically I experience pain along the middle line of my feet. What helps them more than anything else is … not sole inserts … not expensive shoes … not regular massage … but, yes, you guessed it: Bikram HotCore Yoga practiced in a hot room with the intensity of igniting my own inner heat.
Does it work overnight? No. It takes time. However the regular practice of Bikram HotCore Yoga builds inner strength & vitality for the long haul. A good place to build this strength from is the ground up. Awkward pose, Eagle, all of the balancing poses wake up the soles of the feet in a powerful restorative way. Please remember that engaging the perineum (muscle at the base of the spine … see archive for previous eYoga tip: Root lock) is absolutely essential for pulling up the aches of the feet. Learning to press the balls of the feet, toes, all 4 corners of the foot creates awareness as to how the sole of the foot impacts strength in the larger muscles of the legs and buttocks. Even distribution of body weight throughout the soles of the feet is another important awareness.
For those of you who experience impatience and frustration in Standing Head to Knee … it is natural that everyone wants to extend your leg forward toward the mirror … but if your knee starts to buckle or hyperextend, you hear Mary or Peter telling you to slow down and take satisfaction in exploring your starting position … the soles of your feet are a wonderful place to bring your mind’s attention. Invest your energy in feeling the floor & developing muscle awareness in the feet. By doing so, here are benefits:
1. Balance & strength in your yoga practice will improve in all standing postures.
2. Entire body posture outside of the yoga studio will improve … you may find you spine lengthening & low back issues improving.
3. Effectiveness in other physical activities will increase … whether that’s your golf game, tennis, or simply enjoying long walks on the beach.
The following is the story of Mary (one of our studio members) & her success in healing her feet:
“I’ve always had terribly flat feet, and this is worsened by years of 12-hour days on my feet at work. When I was a kid I took dance lessons for years and my teacher always told me to lift my arches up! Unfortunately she never told me how. When I was older I played basketball. Because my feet were so flat, my ankle actually caved in. This was good for causing serious shin splints and lots of time off the basketball court. So I tried everything; Podiatrists, really good shoes, custom made supports, etc. Eventually I just accepted it…
My feet started really bothering my in my mid-twenties. I literally limped any time I got up. Things like roller blades and snow boots were impossible because the boot was too hard and didn’t allow for my fallen arch.
So then I came to Peter’s Bikram yoga class. I mostly came to lose weight, get in shape, and learn to relax. The extra benefit has been that my feet are remarkably better. Some days are better than others but there is definite change. Awkward pose has been very helpful for building up the muscles are waking up in my feet. I can actually feel them. Now when I see my ankle cave in I know how to lift it! The other standing poses, especially the ones on one leg, have really helped too. That “gripping with your toes” actually helps build up the other muscles in my feet. I just never thought it was possible to change the shape of my feet. When I first started yoga my feet would cramp about half way through the standing poses. It’s been a real challenge, but one I’m grateful for every day. Now I make it through class most days without cramping.
One other proof of success: I was out gardening the other day barefooted. I saw my wet foot print on the patio and it looked like a normal footprint. It used to pronate really badly, I could always pick my print out of the group at the beach.”