In my senior classes I see pairs and pairs of feet that are misshapen, collapsed, misbehaved, ignored and overlooked of any attention and care. Thirty-five years of yoga has taught me that feet are the control panels for all standing poses as well as moving around in life. In some schools of acupressure it is said that the order of disharmony begins at the feet. As seniors begin to have feet problems, their lives become dramatically limited leading up to them being unable to walk without constant pain. In each class with my senior students I spend a good deal of time and attention on getting them to meet and love their feet!
Regular indulgence using Yoga Tune Up® Balls for massaging feet is a wonderful boon for waking up awareness of neglected feet. Along with Yoga Tune Up® Ball Therapy I bring in simple but profound and overlooked movements that benefit mobility in the feet. What I have noticed with seniors new to yoga, is the intense tightness in the calves and Achilles tendon. When the Achilles are very tight they function more as stilts then as bouncing off points. The overall feeling from working the feet with YTU Balls and YTU movements ripples through the entire body.
Yoga Tune Up® Dandasana Ankle Circles (shown in the video below and on the Quick Fix 10 Minute video for Feet and Ankles) are wonderful in their simplicity and profound in their action. With my senior students new to Yoga I have them sitting up on a bolsters or a few folded blankets to assist greater ease in Dandasana. When these seniors practice Dandasana ankle circles their eyes get really big as heat builds up and fuels the entire lower leg. It is also great for the mind to coordinate rhythm of movement when they are attempting to move both feet simultaneously and play with individual movements within the 26 bones of the feet.
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After a 30-year office career wearing dress shoes my feet are like two blocks at the end of my legs.
In my yoga classes, tree pose is nearly impossible for me to perform without using the wall for assistance.
I can’t wait to start using the therapy balls & exercises and see what results they bring.
This insight on simple foot movements is really applicable in the chair classes I give…getting staff at work to flex/point and circle feet begins the grounding element of the practice…
I once attended a yoga class in Japan that was dedicated to 45 minutes of foot care! Yay! However, the entire 45 minutes was spent on moving the toes independently of one another! I was the only Westerner, and of course, the only participant (under 40) who could not move beyond the big toe. Even the senior participants were able to move all of the toes. I loved this video and look forward to practising the toe separation exercises with hopes that I can restore some mobility in my feet and toes.
I have the same experience that Joelene mentioned. my clients don’t like their feet. Your post is great for a reminder of how important the feet are at any age.
Thanks for the blog!
I love to start my classes with a few minutes of rolling the feet. I find that most people have begun to lose sensory contact with their feet, and the rolling not only wakes the feet but wakes their awareness. The looks on the faces as the realization settles in is priceless!
Thanks for the great ideas, Shelley. I encourage my students to make physical contact with their feet daily if they can reach them. The YTU balls have been a real asset in helping senior students and others without the range of motion be able to massage their feet regularly and increase circulation and awareness. I think having a positive felt experience of their feet can go a long way in altering the critical and rejecting relationship many students have with their feet related to structural changes from rheumatoid arthritis and loss of awareness related to diabetic neuropathy.
Happy feet, happy body! This is so true for anyBODY! I too work with seniors and have taught a Sit & Stretch class and a Functional Fitness class for the past 7yrs or so. Most are in their mid-80’s to mid 90’s. I also have people with MS that are younger but have too many mobility issues to attend regular fitness classes, so they join us! The feet are always included in both of my classes and the great thing with seniors is that they really are interested in learning about new things and about their body. Now that I am learning more with YTU and the Therapy Balls, I will be sure to teach them some new tricks!
I certainly had taken my feet for granted, uptill a few years ago I did not even know I had toes 🙂 they were just there to pretty them up with colour for summer sandels. After reading some articles about the feet I keep promoting the walking in bear feet to my family, friends and student, go take off your shoes and walk around, if your feet get dirty there is water and soap, just do it your feet will thank you.
It’s wonderful that such a “simple” stretch has the potential for a profound impact on seniors who commonly have mobility issues. There is also something meditative (for me at least) about connecting with my feet that I would imagine may also be beneficial in seniors. Stretching the Achilles tendon is deceptively simple, yet so beneficial. Inherent in the name is the potential for a serious “blind spot” from the calf on up the body, any age.
hi shelly, thanks for this post. i have introduced some therapy ball work to my seniors. they don’t love it, but i think i need to give them better context on how it can improve movement all the way up the fascial chain. btw the video doesn’t seem to match up with your blog text.
This is great! It is so important to work the feet and even out the muscles. I have notices from walking around the city, especially in heals, that when I get to my mat, that my feet do not fully support me but after some of these exercises, I think they will.
I absolutely live in running shoes for my job and suffer from calluses. I have to admit ever since I no longer work in an office wearing fancy shoes my feet hardly ever hurt. Until I tried the foot exercises with YTU I had no idea my feet were even more neglected that I thought as far as muscles. When Jill said it was sad if we couldn’t pick up the balls with our toes … yikes … I’m going to have to work on that one!!
I’ve ordered balls to use in my classes – but what about cleaning the balls. Any tips on what you use? I hesitate having people rub their feet with them, and others place them on their face !! Doesn’t work for me!
I agree with Becky! Its absolutely not just for seniors. I’m in my 30’s and have to deal with my achy feet everyday. Particularly because I stand on my pods at least 6 hours a day at my work. I’ve noticed though in the last 2 weeks, by having the YTU balls by my side and using them on my feet while on shift….it helps my feet feel energized and amazing throughout the day.
I’ve been getting creative with what I do with them but overall, my feet have not been achy when I get home from work and that’s been great for my hubs because he doesn’t have to massage my feet as often as before. 😉
So thumbs up for him and muh pods!
It’s not just for Seniors! I spent years as a waitress and bartender standing and walking on hard floors with not great shoes and my feet have paid the price. Both the Yoga Tune Up balls and the ankle circles are one of my favorite ways to treat my feet after a long day!
Ah the feet- I have found this place to be the perfiect introduction to balll therapy- easy instant relief sure to bring smiles
This is truly a sad statics of our modern lives-poor posture,bad footwear,lack of embodiment and poor circulation are the major culprits for creating all sorts of feet conditions.YTU teachers are doing a wonderful work in a sense of educating their students on how to take a proper care of their feet,so they can be healthy,suuple and connected for teh rest of their lives.
I find that many of my senior yoga students are ashamed to show their feet because they are so deformed. W hen they are laying supine with hip flexion and knees bent, it is easy for them to work with releasing tension in their feet. They can adduct and abduct their toes to create space, circle the foot to open the ankle joint, and perform plantar flexion and dorsiflexion easily while resting on their backs. It seems that they are less self conscious about their feet when they are not looking at them and just experiencing the sensations.