Ever been told that you have your head in the clouds? Or felt that there was too much going on in your mind, almost like you were caught up in a mental whirlwind of thoughts? Ever had a foot massage or reflexology and noticed heaps of knots or areas of tension and soreness in your feet?
Ever thought about the amount of time you spend on your feet? Standing, walking, running, dancing? Each day? And how much time do you then actually spend on your feet, and I mean dedicating time to nurture and love your hard working feet?
In a yoga class you’ll often hear cues like “ground down through your feet”, “spread your toes”, ”connect the corners of your feet to the mat”. Sometimes, even when you’ve got your hands on the ground, they’ll also be treated like feet and get similar instructions. Other times it might be your elbows or shins or whatever part of your body is touching the floor will be considered part of your foundation in that particular moment and posture. Essentially, these parts also become feet.
Science is beginning to look at, and prove, what many traditional cultures have know for a while: the importance of grounding your feet to the earth. In science this is known as earthing and can help infuse you with more energy, in turn “restore and stabilize the bioelectrical circuitry that governs your physiology and organs, harmonize your basic biological rhythms, boost self-healing mechanisms, reduce inflammation and pain, and improve your sleep and feeling of calmness” (read more here).
The practice of reflexology applies pressure to areas of the feet (and hands and head) that correspond to organs and other body parts and thereby, addresses various complaints and disease. It’s easy enough to find a reflexology chart of the feet, and similarly acupressure points in the feet, and see what relates to where.
A foot massage or reflexology will always leave my feet feeling an entire shoe size smaller. Making me think, what sort of junk am I storing in my feet?!
For any of you familiar with Thomas Myers and his work on Anatomy Trains, one of the main lines of fascia is the Superficial Back Line: a line of connective tissue running from the soles of your feet, along the the back of your body, around the back of your scull and finishing at the brow ridge. In other words, your feet are physically connected to your head - and the rest of your body (read more on the Superficial Back Line).
I love having my feet rubbed, scrubbed, squeezed, soaked, poked, prodded and massaged. And especially when I find myself feeling overwhelmed by whatever life throws at me, or if I’ve been in shoes (and socks) for too long, or even when I’ve been at a really yummy dinner and overindulged into a food coma. I love that my job as a yoga teacher requires that I am barefoot most of the day.
Usually the first chance i get, I’ll throw my shoes off. Growing up in Japan I’ve learned to take my shoes of as soon as I get inside. But even outside, I love the opportunity to be barefoot. Especially in warm countries where I don’t have to be afraid of cold feet. Funnily, the more I go barefoot, the less I find my feet get cold.
Even when I go hiking, I will start with shoes on. But my toes will soon itch to get out and I'll usually finish up walking barefoot. I love feeling the ground beneath and my feet love it too. The space, the fresh air, the natural poking, prodding, exfoliation. They are like ten little piglets in a mud bath. Whether it’s sand, rocks, pebbles, mud, or grass, I instantly feel a significant energetic shift. Not only does it physically force me to slow down, because it isn't possible to walk fast over uneven, and sometimes sharp surfaces, I also become much more mindful and aware of where to place my feet to avoid sharp edges and animal poop. Plus I get free foot massage and reflexology while the earthing recharges my batteries.
No matter how tall you are, your feet are connected to your head. And your feet put up with a lot of crap; pointed shoes, high heels, sock imprisonment and your own body weight. So get out of your head and into your feet, and give them a bit of TLC. And then notice how you feel.
Further reading on the grounding effect of walking barefoot:
- What is "Grounding" or "Earthing"?, Heart MD Institute
- Why Going Barefoot May Boost Your Health and Beauty, Part 1 & Part 2
- Why Does Walking Barefoot on the Earth make you Feel Better?