Yoga Fundamentals: Foot Roll Using a Ball

Just as we discussed in Yoga Fundamentals: Breathing Exercise, if you think yoga is inaccessible to you, these fundamentals are an excellent place to start.  Once you feel comfortable with moving your body and experiencing the sensation of the movement, you may find yourself more comfortable with the thought of progressing in a yoga practice.

Today we will examine another important yoga exercise.  Not quite as important as proper breathing, but still beneficial, rolling your feet helps to relieve stress, loosen fascia, and bring you in tune with how your body is feeling.  Just as practicing breathing, it may seem silly, at first, but give it a chance.  This is intended to get you moving your body and experiencing your movement.  Doing this every night can change your leg and foot flexibility, as well as the way your legs and feet feel.  If you do it after working out, it can be even more beneficial.

Please, take it slow, be gentle, and if you have any hesitation, consult your doctor.

Depending on how hard you are on your feet each day, you might find one type of ball preferable to the other.  A golf ball will provide a hard, solid surface with which to massage your feet.  The tennis ball, instead, with provide more give and cushion.  Either choice, when used properly, should help your feet to feel better and improve your body-awareness.

2. Foot Roll (with a tennis or golf ball)

- Place the selected ball on the floor, close to your feet.

- Stand, with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, place all corners of your feet into the floor (or mat).  Allow your toes to separate, find the floor, and provide stability.  [This can also be tried seated.]

- Slowly, shift your weight onto one side, lifting the weight off of the other foot, bringing that knee up, so the toe rests on the floor.  If you're having trouble with your balance, you may want to find something on which to hold yourself.

- Using your raised toe, roll the ball under the raised foot to begin.

- Roll the selected ball under all portions of the foot, taking extra time on tight spots.  Be gentle, but make sure you can feel it; use moderate pressure.  If you keep losing your ball, you should apply more pressure.  Roll it in all directions, in all areas, for about two to three minutes.

- When you've finished with your first foot, come back to standing as you were when you began.  Keep your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, place all corners of your feet into the floor (or mat).  Allow your toes to separate, finding the floor.

- Take a minute here to notice how your body feels and whether the foot and side of the body you just worked feels any different than the opposite side or than it had before.  Be aware of how you are breathing.

- Repeat the foot roll on the other side.

- When you've finished the second foot, come back to standing to reassess. 

How do you feel?  My hope is that you find this relaxing, rejuvenating, and inspiring.  If you like it, you may even want to look into a foam roller, monthly massages, or taking a yoga class.

Here's to happy feet!

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