Thursday, September 08, 2005

Yoga Toes

The next time you're in a room full of yogis, look down. You'll notice a couple things.

First, everyone's barefoot.

Second, yogis have broad feet with lots of space between their toes.

That's good, right? Well, not so fast. I know wide feet are good.

But lots of people don't want their feet to be any bigger. So they look at me with trepidation when I say, "if you do yoga, your feet will get broader."

I suppose you'll want wider feet only if you know why you should want them.

I'll start with the simple stuff. A broader foot equals a more stable foundation. Your balance improves. That's good.

Beyond that, we should consider exactly why yogis have wider feet than most non-yogis.

Yogis spend a good amount of time with no shoes and socks on. Shoes and socks cram the toes together. They prevent free and independant movement of each individual toe.

When toes are crowded together, you can't use them properly for walking, standing, or running.

If you don't use the muscles and connective tissue of your feet, they start to get weak and dysfunctional.

Bunions are a perfect example of this.

bunion Posted by Picasa

Just in case you think this is a bunch of hooey, runners and hikers, who put many miles on their feet, fully embrace this information.

Injinji, a sock manufacturer, is marketing "tetrasoks" to runners and hikers. These five-toed socks fit over each individual toe, like a glove and, accroding to Men's Journal, strengthen your feet "by forcing toes into the natural spread formation you get running barefoot."

Don't miss that. Your toes are meant to spread wide when you walk and run. If allowed to open up, your feet will bless you with a more natural, balanced stride.

Another reason yogis' have wide feet is the purposeful action they create with their bodies. In this case, action is specifically produced in the feet and legs.

In mountain pose, the basic standing position for yoga, some of the lift in the torso that lengthens the spine and creates space between the vertebrae, comes from the "rebound effect" of projecting the feet and legs into the floor.

When you lengthen the legs and press down evenly through the four corners of the feet, you create a natural broadening of the foot and lengthening of the toes.

You can create this action in the feet even when your feet are up in the air in inversions (ala shoulder stand) or in poses like thunderbolt poses, where you're sitting on your feet.

yoga toes Posted by Picasa

Yoga is good for your feet. You can see it when you look down at toes that are long and spread wide apart.

Don't just sit there. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., My favorite Sanskrit word is angustha. Angustha means big toe. So, when you're doing supta padangusthasana, you're lying down (supta), reaching out to grab your big toe (angustha) on the end of your leg (pada). We have all sorts of fun like this learning the Sanskrit names of yoga poses at the Experience Sanskrit workshop. It's coming soon to you in Columbia, MO, Dallas, TX, and Annapolis, MD. Register at

p.p.s., Don't forget our Experience Neti Flow workshop coming up in October at Show Me Yoga Center in Jefferson City, MO. Click here for more information

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your site & this posting while searching for info on the product "Yoga Toes." Do you have any opinion on, or knowledge about this product? It's a bit on the pricy side, but I've been having foot pain (ironically, from overstretching it in a yoga class).

Anyway, I tried wearing my pedicure toe-spacers for a few days, as it seems like that would - functionally - be about the same. And my foot actually does feel better.

So, now I'm trying to get some objective info on this product to see if I should invest or just stick with the cheap thing that seems to work.

12:13 AM  
Anonymous tablet pc said...

So, I do not actually believe it is likely to work.

1:36 AM  
Anonymous said...

Wow, there is really much worthwhile info here!

1:14 PM  

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