Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mind and body

Embrace the beauty, strength of the bare foot

Anyone who has taken a yoga class knows that the practice is done in bare feet. No shoes, no socks, just feet. Quite often I am asked about this. Besides the obvious, such as not tracking in outside dirt and keeping our mats and practice space clean, there are other vital reasons for taking those shoes off.

Related News/Archive

These days, I've noticed a lot of commercials for foot products like inserts and specialized shoes. We enclose our feet inside an artificial structure designed to, we're told, make the foot work better or reduce injuries, pain and strain. Sometimes our feet are encased in shoes for the better part of our day — anywhere from eight to 18 hours — when what we really need is to take those shoes off and let our feet do the job for which they were built. Because they're not the most attractive part of our body, we tend to overlook the feet, or misalign their structure by jamming them into narrow-toed shoes or 4-inch heels.

The engineering marvel known as the human foot is composed of 26 bones (including the ankle), 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Without the foot, we couldn't stand, and without the big toe, balance would be nearly impossible. Consider the fact that feet are our shock absorbers and propel us through our world. The incredible mechanics of the foot distribute our weight from heel to toe as we walk or run, and those toes defy gravity, pushing away the ground beneath us to move us onto the next step. In yoga practice, the toes may grip the mat to keep you sturdy, or spread out to keep you balanced.

Here are a few simple things you can do to strengthen muscles, loosen tight ligaments and tendons, and encourage the foot through its range of motion. These exercises may lead you to look at your feet with a new awareness and appreciation, all the while reducing strains that lead to injury or issue.

• Sit on a chair and press the base of the toes into the floor, heels lifted. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Then, curl the toes under so you're on the knuckles, leaning forward just enough to feel the pressure. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Repeat pressing the base of the toes into the floor.

• Sit on a chair or the floor with your right foot perched above your knee. Using the hands, hold each side of your foot and rotate the sole toward the ceiling. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Repeat with the other foot.

• Position your fingers between each toe and press downward and away from the center of the foot. Hold for five to 10 breaths.

• Align the foot's energetic qualities by pressing a thumb into the center of the arch. Hold for five to 10 breaths.

• Place a "dead" tennis ball or rolled towel under the arch of your foot and begin rolling the ball or towel back and forth from heel to toe. Continue for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat with other foot.

Diana Reed is a yoga teacher, writer and co-owner of House of Light Yoga in Hernando County. Contact her at or (352) 610-1083.

Embrace the beauty, strength of the bare foot 08/07/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 7, 2014 6:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  2. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title


    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  3. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  4. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)


    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]
  5. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.