Yes that's right, the one that spends most of your life pressed to the ground or squeezed into some ridiculous (albeit gorgeous) shoe. The one you rarely think of (unless prompted by pain) yet spends most of its time carrying the weight of your life.
There are 26 bones in the human foot (28 if you include the sesamoid bones at the base of the big toe) - that means 25% of all the bones in your body are located in your two feet. In addition your feet house 33 muscles (intrinsic and extrinsic), 31 joints and over 100 ligaments. This perfect design is purpose-built to be the foundation for our body's full muscular-skeletal structure. However we compromise the natural strength and design of this framework every time we wrap our feet in shoes.
You may have read the debate over whether hi-tech athletic shoes benefit our overall structure by cushioning the impact of our activities (specifically long distance running), or compromise our body's natural structure, eventually weakening, not protecting, the foot, ankle, knee and hip joints (you can read more about the study here - Barefoot Runners).
While the scientists and sneaker companies continue to debate their various studies, just one hour standing in a pair of stilettos will provide immediate evidence of the negative impact wearing high heels has on our feet, knees, hips and back.
All of this to back up what we already know - that going barefoot feels good. It is also good for us. Walking and standing in bare feet exercises and strengthens muscles weakened by our shoe wearing habits, and helps to restore our structural balance. Remember the childhood joy of bare feet on fresh soft grass, or even now, the sensual pleasure of bare feet against cool tile, or plush carpet?
The first or base chakra Muladhara represents our grounding and connection to the earth. Our feet and legs play an important role in balancing this chakra.
Yoga is particularly good for strengthening your feet and ankles as each standing posture requires us to spread our toes and equalize the balance of our feet between the four corners of the sole, spreading the toes (pressing down through the big toe) and lifting the arch. Concerted focus on correct grounding and alignment of your feet will lead to noticeable improvement in your balance and stability.
So make October the month to focus on your soles. Really feel your feet against the floor during your practice, focus on reaching your toes out from your feet like little kick stands to assist with your overall balance. Feel how the weight shifts from the outside to the inside of your feet in different postures, notice if you keep your feet and heels together between postures, or if they drift out. Feel the energy and connection with the ground remembering that a balanced first chakra brings a sense of safety, fulfillment, of belonging and connecting to others, and of being at home in one's own body.
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