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Why These Power Yogis Spread Their Toes

yogis-spread-their-toes We're on a mission to spread love and toes. Of course Love! But what about toes? Why is that our mission? Well, because there is great power in your feet. More than 100 muscles are below the ankle and these muscles are meant to help YOU. To prove the power of your feet, we asked a few inspiring and well-known yogis to tell us how spreading their toes impacted their yoga practice.

Why yogis spread their toes

Amy Ippoliti (@amyippoliti)

amy-ippoliti-toesox What pose drastically changes for you the moment you spread your toes Spreading my toes is impactful in all of my yoga poses, but I would say it changes most drastically when I do arm balances - it gives me so much more power and poise when there is air between the piggies! You might not expect it, but in svarga dvijasana (bird of paradise pose) toe spreading on the lifted foot is critical for balance as you make the transition into standing. What’s your trick to keeping your toes healthy and spreading for the long haul?
  1. For me, foot wear is everything. I refuse to wear shoes with a pointy toe box even though it’s more fashionable - not because I’m stubborn, but because my toes hate it! I’m convinced that by now I’d have hammer toes and bunions if I’d let fashion dictate my choices for shoes. I choose shoes with a wide toe box and wear ToeSox five-toe sandals and socks to keep my toes spreading.
  2. Toe Yoga and foot massage! Whenever I can, I do self massage on my feet and toes, interlacing my fingers between each toe, and digging into to the tender spots to relieve tension.
  3. Toe spreading when I practice yoga!
We are on our feet all day - what are your tips for keeping your feet strong and healthy? The thing that keeps my toes strong and healthy is all of the above, but also an emphasis on yoga standing balances on one foot in yoga such as:
  • Tree pose
  • Eagle pose
  • Extended hand to big toe pose
  • Warrior 3
  • Ardha chandrasana

Justin Dees (@justinyoga)

justin-dees-yoga-toesox What pose drastically changes for you the moment you spread your toes? The answer to this question is very obvious to me- all of them. Any time that I active my toes during ANY pose, the pose itself changes, it becomes a completely different pose. Activating your toes is a game changer. The poses instantly become more active, engaging, and stronger. I've had private clients tell me that although they have done yoga before, they haven't felt the poses in such a way, when their toes are activated. What’s your trick to keeping your toes healthy and spreading for the long haul Practice. When I first started my yoga practice, I would literally have to separate my toes from each other by hand because the muscles in my feet were not built up at that time. It is hard to explain to someone how to lift your second toe on your left foot without moving the others. It takes time and practice every day. The good thing is, you don't have to go to the studio or gym to practice these actions. It takes some focus and dedication, but the muscles in your feet will show themselves. We are on our feet all day - what are your tips for keeping your feet strong and healthy? I truly believe that not wearing shoes all day is the best way to keep your feet healthy and strong. Kick your shoes off when you get home! From a young age, my mother used to work overtime to get me to put on shoes. Shoes can be constricting, painful, and can actually change the shape of your feet. One of my yoga clients would always walk with lifts in his shoes, all the time, even at home. This made his Achilles tendons so extremely tight, that he wasn't able to walk with his heels down. He would only walk on his toes. So, I told him when he was at home, to simply start walking barefoot. Within a week, his stride began to change, and his achilles tendons began to release. We are now working on his toes.

Koya Webb (@koyawebb)

koya-webb-yoga-toesox What pose drastically changes for you the moment you spread your toes? Every pose in my practice drastically changes the moment I open my toes. Especially in standing poses when I open and lift my toes I feel grounded but open. When I spread my toes in poses an internal release of emotions happens. Spreading the toes makes everything feel better. What’s your trick to keeping your toes healthy and spreading for the long haul? My routine for keeping my toes healthy is regular pedicures, moisturizing before bed and staying in ToeSox as much as possible. I wear the socks and sandals 90% of everyday. I've even jogged in my Serena's (but I don't recommend this). That's just how comfortable they are. We are on our feet all day - what are your tips for keeping your feet strong and healthy? I'm pretty much in ToeSox all the time unless I'm having an occasional fancy moment or going running. I love foot massages and detox foot baths to relax my feet and relieve tension between my toes. I'm what you would consider a spa Junkie and I love it because our feet need love too!

Robin Martin (@robinmartinyoga)

robin-martin-yoga-toesox What pose drastically changes for you the moment you spread your toes? Tadasana. Standing mountain pose. As soon as I spread my toes, I feel grounded - rooted down. I am more stable, stronger. I feel space open up all the way to my sacrum. My spine grows longer. Also - when my feet aren't grounded - rather lifted - I love to spread my toes to activate the muscles in my feet and legs. What’s your trick to keeping your toes healthy and spreading for the long haul? I'd like to say that I consciously spread my toes all day long, but the truth is - I wear ToeSox sandals with little toe dividers every day in the warmer months and wear Toesox socks when it's cooler out. I let my sandals and socks do the work of keeping my toes spread. We are on our feet all day - what are your tips for keeping your feet strong and healthy? Our feet are our foundation. Appreciate them and all that they do by getting the occasional foot massage. Wear a sock or a sandal that aids in spreading toes - especially at the end of the day if you choose to wear shoes that cram your toes. Practice yoga poses that open the feet, stretch the soles and tops of the feet - like downward facing dog, "toes pose" or virasana. And of course, spread your toes as often as possible!

Noah Maze (@noahmaze)

noah-maze-yoga-toesox What pose drastically changes for you the moment you spread your toes? I don’t remember one pose specifically, but I do remember my relationship changing with my feet when I started yoga as at 14 years old. I had never really paid attention to my feet, to where they were and what they were doing in any given moment. They carried me around the soccer pitch and tennis court and seemed to know what to do. I simply took them for granted. In Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) specifically, I remember the emerging awareness of my feet as conscious limbs of action as my hamstrings (gradually) lengthened allowing me to touch the floor with straight knees; “My feet! I have feet!” There they were, presumably where they had always been, but previously they had seemed so very far away, and now they seemed approachable. I remember in high school trying to explain to my friends how cool it felt to spread your toes and that we could be as conscious of the muscular control of your feet as we were with our hands. They seemed unimpressed as I demonstrated toe spreading and explained how that was a part of ujayii breathing and how amazing it all felt in Surya Namaskar A. What’s your trick to keeping your toes healthy and spreading for the long haul? That’s easy, one word; yoga. Standing poses, in general, are great poses for exercising ones’ feet. My feet cramp up in poses if I have not been exercising them lately, and that is feedback that my feet are weak. As I continue to learn more anatomy and kinesiology, I am fascinated by the details of the movements that our ankles and feet can do, what muscles specifically do each movement, and how to isolate and build strength and awareness in each muscle. Who knew that the muscle that spreads your little toe is called abductor digiti minimi? We have 4 layers of intrinsic foot muscles, in addition to many important extrinsic foot muscles that control innumerable movements and can be accessed consciously. Needless to say, there is a lot going on in our feet, and the intelligence of the body is endlessly wondrous. We are on our feet all day - what are your tips for keeping your feet strong and healthy? I have foot yoga routines that I teach in yoga (and that I practice on airplanes and anywhere else) that are essential to the strength and dexterity of my feet. I love teaching yoga classes that specifically focus on the ankles and feet and what is happening in those joints in each pose (check out Foot Fix For Skiers on YogaGlo)

Elena Brower (@elenabrower)

elena-brower-yoga-toesox What pose drastically changes for you the moment you spread your toes? Pincha Mayurasana. Also, Padmasana (most frequently done and most beloved!) What’s your trick to keeping your toes healthy and spreading for the long haul? My standing desk! I am endlessly finding new ways to do Vrksasana and Tadasana which requires toe attention. We are on our feet all day - what are your tips for keeping your feet strong and healthy? I use a great mat but I also do cardio, light resistance training and yoga several times a week which helps my feet a lot. And I finally went to a proper podiatrist who fitted me for my own personal insoles and I am floating!