Yoga is a combination of physical movements and mindfulness. This ancient practice was first mentioned in the Rig Veda, a text from Northern India written almost 5000 years ago. Today, there are dozens of styles and types of yoga to participate in, but they will all help your feet.
One of the biggest benefits of yoga is an increase in flexibility. Slow movements and pose holds work to gently stretch the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Poses such as Downward Facing Dog will stretch the Achilles tendon and keep your calf muscles loose. A healthy and stretchy Achilles tendon can protect you from conditions such as tendonitis, heel pain, and more.
READ MORE: Your Achilles Tendon
Another benefit of yoga is an increase in balance. You most likely stand with more pressure on one leg or the other, which throws off your center of gravity. Poses such as the Mountain Pose teach you to be mindful of your center and have a more even stance. Increased balance not only protects you from potential falls and ankle sprains, but can also improve functional movement, making you a better athlete and protecting you from sports injuries.
While most yoga is done barefoot, we recommend a foot covering for several reasons. Although it is a slow form of exercise, it’s likely you’ll still work up a sweat. Sweaty feet on a slippery floor can mean a face plant instead of a proper pose. This is particularly important during Bikram yoga, commonly referred to as hot yoga. Another reason to wear foot coverings is to protect against fungus which can lead to athlete’s foot.
READ MORE: Fungus and Your Feet
There are many ways to enjoy yoga, from taking a local class to following a YouTube video tutorial. Try these poses if you want to keep your feet and ankles healthy: