As women, we’re constantly abusing our feet, whether it’s standing on them all day long, logging long runs, or cramming them into pointy high heels. In yoga class, we get to go barefoot and give our feet a much-deserved rest. I love how yoga never leaves out a single body part—from our pinky toes to our external hip rotators. And we can’t take our feet for granted once we start practicing yoga regularly.
Here are 3 of my favorite yoga poses to help relieve tired, achy feet. Try practicing these moves at the end of a long day after you kick off your heels or heavy boots.
Sit up tall and extend your legs straight out in front of you. Place your hands by your hips and flex strongly through your feet. Try to spread your toes apart from each other. Stay here for 5 deep breaths. Then point and flex your feet and circle the feet around, first moving away from each other then toward each other.
This pose is aptly named since the cobbler fixes the shoes we wear. I love cobbler’s pose after a long day on my feet. Bring your feet together, pressing the heels firmly and spreading open the insteps as if you’re reading a book. Use your thumbs to massage the inner part of your feet and also try to weave your fingers through your toes and spread them open. Hold for 8 to 10 breaths.
Inversions are a wonderful way to take a load off your feet. To come into shoulder stand, lie on your back and roll your legs up overhead. Interlace your hands under your back and press into your shoulders then bend your elbows and place your hands on your back. Use your abdominals to lift your legs up in to the air. If this is too challenging, you can always lay on the floor with your legs up the wall to get the same benefits, or you can place a block under your lower back and lift your legs up. Hold here for 10 to 15 breaths. You can repeat the same foot action from staff pose: flex and point the toes and circle the feet in both directions.
Kristin McGee is a leading yoga and Pilates instructor and healthy lifestyle expert based in New York City. She is an ACE certified personal trainer who regularly trains celebrity clients in New York and Los Angeles. She serves as Health’s contributing fitness editor and is frequently seen on national TV. Her latest in a large collection of fitness DVDs is YogaSlim. Follow her on Twitter @KristinMcGee and like her page on Facebook.