Too Tight to Stretch Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 3

Healthy Feet, Happy Body

35 min - Practice


Take the time to nourish and open the feet—they do a lot for us! Alana guides us through a practice to help release the every-day tension we build up in our feet. You will feel relieved and open for new journeys.
What You'll Need: Mat, Wall, Blanket (2), Block

About This Video

Apr 12, 2016
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(water lapping) Welcome back. Thank you for being here. So in this practice, we're gonna really work to open our feet, open the feet, and perhaps open the mind a little bit. So let's see. So for this practice, you'll want two blankets, a block, and a wall will come in handy.

So we'll start kneeling on a blanket for some padding under the knees and then starting with what we affectionately call Toe Torture Pose. (laughs) So tucking the toes under, spreading the toes wide apart, and then this right here might be like, "That's enough." You might begin to play with leaning your hips back towards your heels, and this is where a block can come in handy just to have a bit of support as you balance here. So we're spreading the toes wide apart. We're leaning the weight back towards the heels, and then you might play with coming up a little bit here. Now, if this is quite intense, notice where you can soften a bit through the face, relaxing the shoulders, relaxing the jaw.

(exhales) Spend a few moments here with your breath. So most of us wear shoes, right? So our feet can get kind of jammed up in the shows, and so here we're really taking a few moments to open the feet, open and stretch the toes. Few more moments here. (inhales) (exhales) It can help to emphasize a little bit of an exhale.

(exhales) Okay, when you've had enough, can bring your block off to the side and lean forward. Release the top of the feet. Come up onto your blanket, and then for this next part, you'll want a blanket. You can also use, if you have an extra sticky mat at home, you can use, but we're gonna create a tight roll in the blanket as tight as possible, and then bring the blanket right in the back of the knees. You see that?

So you might lean forward here, bring the blanket in the back of your knees, and then sit back down. So this is a nice opening and stretch for the calf muscles. Again, you can use your block for a bit of support and balance. The top of the feet are on the blanket, are on your mat. (exhales) Again, notice where you can soften here, so relaxing the face, the shoulders, the eyes, the jaw.

(inhales) (exhales) And if you spend any time walking or hiking, the calves can get super tight and dense, so this is just a nice way to begin to kind of massage and open the calf muscles. Just another moment here relaxing through the face, easy with the breath. Okay, when you're ready to come out, again, lean forward, remove your blanket, bring it off to the side, and then spread the fingers wide. Come on to all fours, so tabletop, and from here it'll feel nice to extend and reach one leg back, and then begin to rock forward and back, so reaching the heel towards the wall and then dipping forward on the toes. Just stretching the back of the leg.

And then reaching from the heel through the spine to the top of the head. Allow for an inhale. And then exhale, release the leg to the floor. And then other side, extend, tuck the toes under, and stretch the heel towards the wall, and then rocking forward and back. Easy through the back of the neck.

(inhales) (exhales) (exhales) Good, and then one last stretch. Reaching the heel towards the wall, lengthening through the calf up through the spine to the top of the head. Inhale, exhale, release the knee down. Spread the fingers wide. From here, we'll come into Plank Pose, tucking the toes under, and then come into your plank, and just take a few moments here to pause, feel that work through the legs, so active through the legs.

Draw the belly towards the spine. One more inhale here, and as you exhale, press back into your Downward-Facing Dog, and take a few moments here to walk your dog off. Let the head fully release, fully drop. Spread the fingers wide apart, bend the right knee a lot as you begin to stretch the left calf and heel towards the floor. Good, and then bend the right knee.

Bend the left knee, excuse me, and then stretch the right calf and heel towards the floor. Good, and then walk it off a little bit. And then when you're ready, you'll walk your hands towards your feet nice and easy, standing forward fold. Bend the knees and let the spine, the arms, the head dangle. Really relax through your neck.

Just a few moments here in this forward fold. There might be a dully, achy stretch through the spine and the neck and the legs. Good, as you're ready, bend the knees, keep your chin to your chest, and then slowly roll up to standing. Nice and slow, no hurry. Rolling your way up, keeping your chin in, and then feeling your chest rise.

Your shoulders roll up around your ears and back down. And let's just inhale and draw the shoulders up, squeeze, exhale, and drop the shoulders down. Inhale, roll the shoulders up, squeeze. Exhale and drop. One more time.

Drawing the shoulders up, exhale, and drop. Good, from here you'll want a block. If you don't have a block for this, you could use, you could get creative and use a stack of books or a book, actually. We're gonna bring the block right up against the wall and then begin to open the bottoms of the feet. Now, this can be quite tender.

Starting with one foot and beginning to lean into the block, and just start by exploring here. You can use the edge of the block here to get into the bottom of the foot and explore the line of the inner arch of your foot. Moving up to the toe pad, even the outer part of the foot, the heel. Outer edge. (exhales) When you find a spot that's especially tender, you might pause, relaxing through the face, the mouth, the jaw, the eyes, and then continue and just a few more moments here.

We're like mapping and opening the bottoms of the feet. And when do we do this, right? We spend all day running around, walking, standing, and so this is a way to just help bring some attention into the feet and open the bottoms of the feet. Good. Now, as you wrap it up, if there's any spots you haven't explored yet, try that.

(exhales) It's not uncommon to feel a little nauseous, irritated. This can be quite, quite tender. Whew. (exhales) Okay. From here, you're gonna bring the toe pad or the ball of your foot right up against your block, and then spread your toes and mush your foot up against the block.

Yeah, and then you can bend the knee towards the wall if you wanna feel more of a stretch. And I'm gonna turn towards the wall here. I'll demonstrate. If you don't have a block, you can also mush your toes up against your wall or the baseboard there. Just take a few moments here.

Again, relax what you can. Breathe into where you feel the stretch. It's like a slow cook. Okay, and then release. Now we'll stand on both feet and just notice.

Spreading the toes. Just take a few moments here. You might open your palms. Draw your attention down into the foot you just worked with, you just opened. Notice what you feel.

Good, allow for an inhale (inhales). Exhale, let the breath release. (exhales) Okay, we'll try the other side. Opposite foot, and just start by easing into it, so kind of this general mapping of the bottom of the foot. And, again, because this is a different side, most likely you have a different relationship, or maybe there's a different conversation going on with this foot depending on what you're working with.

(exhales) So this general kind of mapping, waking up the foot. And then you might pause when you begin to feel a spot that's super tender. (inhales) (exhales) Take a few breaths here, and then relax what you can, the eyes, the face, the shoulders, the jaw. If you haven't already explored the inner lines, the inner arches up through the toe pad, the outer edge of the foot through the arch down through your heel, try that. (inhales) Whew.

(exhales) Okay, last few moments here. Kind of wrapping it up, so if there are any spots you haven't yet explored, do that. If there's any spots you might be avoiding, you might try that. Oftentimes, we can think, "Well, I don't have time to stretch my feet. "I just gotta get into my practice and go," but what's amazing is that opening the bottoms of the feet can affect the entire body, really the entire nervous system.

Okay, when you're ready, spread your toes and mush them up against your block or your wall. Here I'm gonna face the wall, square the hips, and then you might bend the knee. Let's spend another few moments here breathing with this. Toes are spreading, mushing up against your block or your wall. Okay, and then come out.

Again, we're gonna stand on both feet, spread the toes, and just check in. Drawing your attention down into the foot you just opened. Notice what you feel. Few moments here with your attention in your feet now. You really let the bottoms of the feet open, and then perhaps feel a bit of support.

Yeah. Good. Okay, let's bring the block off to the side. And for this next one, having a blanket can be really nice. So this is a stretch for the top of the feet.

So we're gonna point one foot back, and the key here is to have the heel straight up, so the foot isn't sickled, but the heel is straight up. And just like a dancer, you're gonna point your foot, and then bend the knee and stretch the top of the foot. Whew. This is something we really don't think about doing to really start to stretch the connective tissue through the top of the foot and the ankle. You might get a cramp here, and this can be common once you point the foot, so if you feel a cramp, you can come out of it or you can find a runner's lunge, which we'll do right after this.

Spend just a few more moments here, and you can bend the knee a little bit. (exhales) Notice what's happening with your breath. Can you find a nice, easy, steady breath relaxing the eyes? Whew. Okay, and then release, and then second side.

Top of the foot on the blanket, and then, again, if you notice the heel is coming off to the side and the foot is sickling, try to line that heel up so it's straight. And then you can bend that knee a little bit, pressing the top of the foot down, relaxing the shoulders, relaxing the face. Nice, easy breath here. (inhales) (exhales) Again, it's common here to get a cramp, so if you get a cramp, just come out of it. Good, let's take one more inhale.

And then exhale, let's release, spreading the toes. If you have a blanket there, you'll want to bring it off to the side. And then now we're gonna come into this runner's lunge, which you might be familiar with. Stepping one foot back, coming onto the balls of the feet, bending the knee, and then squaring the hips, so doing what you can to square the hips. And breathing.

(inhales) (exhales) Notice if you're really pressing into the wall to feel that support through the legs, the heart, the head. Good, and then stretching the calf and heel towards the floor, so this is like a Warrior One kind of a variation here. Whew, feeling a nice stretch through the calf right now down through the heel. (inhales) (exhales) Good, one more inhale. And then exhale, step forward, and then second side.

Stepping the foot back, coming onto the balls of the feet, bending the front knee, and then finding that runner's lunge or a high lunge variation, and then squaring the hips a bit. Lengthening up through the spine, lifting up through the heart. Relax through the neck, and just spend a few moments here focusing on the breath. So your legs are stable, so at any point you could let the hands get light from the wall rather than pressing into the wall. (inhales) (exhales) Good, and then begin to extend the calf and heel towards the floor.

Again, finding this Warrior One kind of variation here. The hands are light, and just take a few breaths here. (exhales) I know for me relaxing the jaw can be like an endless process, so soften what you can. Good, one more inhale. Nice, and then step forward.

From here, we're gonna play with a little bit of balancing, so feet about hip distance apart, spreading the toes. Your hands might be on the wall for support, and then begin to come up onto the balls of your feet, so heel lifts. Good, and then release, bend the knees. We're gonna do this again a few times. Coming up onto the balls of the feet, you'll feel the work in the calves, the legs, and then release.

Let's do that two more times, coming up. You might play with the hands getting light, balancing. And then release and one more time, coming up. Good, and then release. Nice work.

Let's come towards the top of our mat, and bring your block with you. And then setting up with the block between the thighs, so, again, we're working to really activate the lines of the legs down through the feet. Bring the block between the inner thighs like this. Press into the balls of your feet, lift your toes, spread your toes wide apart. Good, and then release your toes down to the floor.

And then lift the inner arches of your feet a bit, so you're like plumping up the feet. Lift from the inner arches, up through the inner lines of your legs. Now draw the inner thighs into the block as you find a bit more lift and room through the waist. Yeah, so let the palms now reach into towards your body. Soften the shoulders down the back.

Long through your neck. Good, together, inhale, reach the arms up. Draw your shoulder blades down your back. On your next inhale, reach your arms up over the top of your head. Now go down through your feet.

As you lengthen up through the spine, draw your ribs in towards the body, and let your tailbone reach towards your heels a bit. Inner thighs drawing into the block. Good, inhale, reach. Exhale, bend the knees a lot. We're gonna sit down into a chair pose, so tilting the weight forward, shifting the weight perhaps back into your heels, drawing the belly in towards the spine, thighs towards the block.

Breathe wide into your torso, wide into the rib cage, reaching through your fingers. I know it's a lot of work. One more inhale. Exhale, press down through your feet to come up. One more inhale to lengthen.

Awesome job, exhale, release the arms. Nice, and then remove your block. Bring the feet underneath the hips, hands together. We'll find a few quarter sun salutations and half sun salutations just to move with our breath a bit. Really honoring the work through the feet, so spreading the toes, lengthening up through the spine, and feel the essence of the block between the inner thighs, feeling that support there.

Good, allow for an inhale, and then exhale, just simply let your breath release. (exhales) Together moving with our breath, inhale. (inhales) As you exhale, press the hands down to the floor. Inhale, circle the arms up, get long. And exhale, let the hands come together at the heart, moving with our breath.

Two more times like this. Breathing in. Exhale, breathing out, press the hands down to the floor. Inhale, circle the arms up, get long and light. Exhale, hands together at the heart.

One more time, breathing in. Exhale, breathing out. Press the hands down towards the feet. Inhale, circle the arms up, get long, and reach through the spine Exhale, hands together at the heart. Good, from here we'll add on finding half sun salutations.

Let's take a breathe together (inhales). Exhale and release. (exhales) As you're ready, another inhale (inhales). Exhale, press the hands down to the floor. On your inhale, circle the arms up, get long, and as you exhale, bend the knees, this time coming into a forward fold.

Nice and easy, bend the knees. Release the head, release the arms. As you inhale, grow tall, so slide the hands up your shins. Find a half arch, get long through your spine, shoulder blades draw down your back. And then exhale, bend your knees, forward fold.

Let the head drop. On your inhale, strong legs and back. We're gonna inhale, circle the arms back up to the sky and reach all the way up through the fingers. And then exhale, hands together at the heart. Just take a moment here, dropping your attention back down into your feet.

Good, we'll find that one more time together. As you're ready, breathe in. Exhale, breathe out. Press the hands down to the floor. Inhale, circle the arms up, get long.

Exhale, bend the knees nice and easy, forward fold. Release the head, release the arms. On your inhale, slide your hands up your shins. Take your time here as you lengthen your spine a bit. Shoulder blades draw down your back.

Good, exhale, bend your knees, forward fold, release your head. Strong legs on an inhale. Rise up, circle the arms up. Press down through the feet, up through the spine. Reach and lengthen.

Awesome, exhale, hands together at the heart. Feel the inhale, feel the exhale. (exhales) Releasing the arms. Making our way down to the floor now. Let's draw the hands together.

As you're ready, inhale. Exhale, press the hands down towards the floor. Inhale, circle the arms up. Exhale, forward fold, bend the knees. This time bring the hands to the floor, and we're gonna step back into our Downward Dog.

Stepping the feet back, spreading your fingers wide apart. You can walk it off from here. Really be attentive with your breath. Good, from Downward Dog, come into neutral, so spreading the fingers wide, lengthening through the spine. You can keep the knees bent here.

On an inhale, come forward into Plank Pose, so this is a big move towards plank. Bring your shoulders over your wrists. You'll probably need to walk your feet back. Reach your heels away as you lengthen the spine, so get long through the spine. Draw the belly up.

Good. Strong, active legs and feet. One more inhale. Exhale, lower your knees. Elbows in to the ribs, and lower all the way down onto your belly. Spread the elbows wide, let the forehead rest on your heads.

Take an inhale, and then exhale. (exhales) Bend your knees. We'll find Reverse Windshield Wipers, so let the knees go side to side. Good, release your feet, your legs to the floor. From here, we'll transition onto our back, so rolling onto your back now.

Hug your knees into your chest. (exhales) And just spend a few moments on your back here, letting the knees go side to side, just nice and easy rocking. (exhales) And then bringing the feet to the floor, setting up for Bridge Pose. So we've done all this work opening the feet. Spreading the toes, bringing your heels in line with your sit bones and your hips.

Just take a few moments here, bringing your attention back into your feet and allowing your feet to really melt on the floor, so all four corners of your feet grounded and settling. Nice, from here, as you're ready, reach your arms alongside the body. Allow for an inhale, and on your exhale, begin to curl your tailbone under towards your knees, pressing down through your feet and lifting your hips. You might, right here, feel the mid back lift or maybe the upper back begin to lift. Let the front of the body lengthen, so your thighs are lengthening towards your knees.

Can you remember the feeling of a block between your inner thighs? So the essence of drawing the thighs in towards each other. Really feel that support in your legs. Feel that support down through your feet as the hips lift. Few more easy breaths here, soft through your face.

Relax through the shoulders, the neck. Good, from here come high up onto the balls of your feet, lift the heels, reach the arms up towards the sky, get round through your upper back, and then slowly release down, feeling your mid back and then your eventually your lower back. Release. Take a moment here. (exhales) And notice how you feel.

Reaching the arms over head now, bring your feet wide, so wider than your hips, maybe as wide as your mat for windshield wipers. Inhale, exhale, let the knees fall over to one side, find the edges of your feet. Inhale, the knees up. Exhale, over to the other side, and just continue moving with your breath nice and easy. Stretching the hips down through the thigh.

You might begin to really lengthen through the fingers, through the side body, and it might feel nice to let your head and neck move here, just inviting movement into the body. (inhales) (exhales) So we spent a lot of time and energy focusing on the feet and the legs. We've been specific, so begin to let your attention soften a bit. Relaxing any effort. Wide open awareness.

Good, let the knees come back up. Hug your knees into your chest, last time. Let yourself rock a little bit from side to side. (exhales) And now from here, if you'd like to take a shavasana, you can do that now, releasing your legs. You can roll to your side, and then press your way up, and just spend a few moments, we have the wall here, to sit up against the wall for support.

And I suggest bringing your blanket, so a stack of blankets underneath you to support and lift the pelvis. So just spend a few moments stacking your blankets up against your wall. And then sitting up. Just a simple, easy cross leg, something that's comfortable. (exhales) And then releasing the shoulders, releasing the arms.

Spending a few moments here, resting into the support of your wall. And inviting the mind to rest in the body. Eventually joining the hands together and gentle bow. Namaste.


1 person likes this.
Delicious and EXACTLY what I needed today! Thank you :)
Hi Annika, I'm so delighted that this practice hit the spot. Wishing you a wonderful day. Thank you for being here!
1 person likes this.
This class was really helpful for my feet. What class would you suggest that might help with my hands and wrists?

1 person likes this.
Dearest Curt, You might try:


Alana Mitnick might have other suggestions as well. (She is out this week, so taking the liberty of replying).

Glad you are here. Best, Kira
Thanks Kira... these were perfect!
Yet another example of the superlative resource for self-care that is Yoga Anytime. You guys are killing it. Thank you, Alana Mitnick .
Lori, So delighted that you are here with us! I am continually inspired by your dedicated yoga practice and passion for learning. Self-care is so very important! xoA
I have a morton's neuroma and I hope this helps. I did the full video the first time but know I won't always have that much time. Is there a benefit to picking a chunk of 10 minutes and just doing that. Does it matter if I go in the order in the video? I was thinking to learn the exercises I would do 10 at the beginning one day, 10 in the middle the next time, and the last 15 the next time and repeat. Thanks.
Hi Valerie, Thank you for sharing. How is this practice work for you? Yes, I suggest doing whatever feels best for your feet. Starting with 10 minute segments is a great idea. You might try increasing the length over time, depending on how it feels. If it hurts or the pain flares up, alway stop or modify. Please keep me posted on your experience or any questions. Best wishes, Alana
2 people like this.
This was great for me. I had surgery on my left foot years ago and never stretched out my feet or toes to keep them in shape. I think this is really going to make a difference with my feet. I am also trying to increase strength with the planks so this is just right for my beginner status. Thank you.
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