Our feet, they’re what connect us to Mother Earth, our foundation. We use them everyday, depend on them, walk all over them, stuff them into uncomfortable shoes… I think it’s time we thanked them.
Give some good vibration to your foundation
We all know how good it feels to get out tootsies rubbed. But foot massage as a facial? Yes, “Foot massage can relieve eye strain, relaxing and opening the face and allowing our beauty to shine through easily” (Melanie Sachs, author Ayurvedic Beauty Care). Sachs words are backed up by the classical Ayurvedic text, the Ashtanga Hridaya, which identifies four major nerves in the feet that connect to the eyes.
Holding and massaging your feet with your own hands can help reintegrate the subtle energy pathways flowing between the upper and lower body. And well-massaged feet connect more completely with the earth when you stand or sit with your feet on the ground, giving your whole being a more stable and relaxed foundation. “Plus, Well-oiled feet are also more protected from cracking and peeling, reducing changes for fungal and bacterial infections” (Sachs).
First, create a foot soak that meets your current needs, using one of the following recipes:
to cool down…
Fill a foot tub with cool water and mix in a tablespoon of honey and a handful each of dried lavender and fresh rose petals. You can also use lavender or rose essential oil. This will soothe the mind.
to warm up…
Fill a foot tub with lukewarm water and add 1 teaspoon of ginger powder. This will invigorate the body and increase circulation.
to relax and rejuvenate…
Fill a foot tub with very warm water and add 3 tablespoons per gallon of Epsom salt. This will reduce any swelling and alleviate fatigue.
Submerge your feet, relax for 10 minutes, then remove your feet and pat them dry. Next, give yourself a foot massage, using sesame, olive, or coconut oil. Apply the oil generously throughout your massage.
Starting with your right foot, massage in circles around the ankle. With your left hand, squeeze down from the base of the calf muscle all the way to the heel bone, 3 times. Holding the heel, pull back on the ball of the foot, flexing and stretching several times. With small circular movements, massage the spaces between all the toes, pinching the webbing between finger and thumb. Glide your thumbs up and down the grooves between the tendons on the top of the foot.
Now turn your foot over so the sole is facing you and hold it in both hands, with your thumbs just under the ball of the foot. Press your fingers into the top side of the foot, stretching the base of the toes apart. Then use your thumbs to “milk” each toe, sliding from the base over the tip of each toe several times.
Next, massage vigorously from heel to toe using the heel of your hand. Walk your thumbs along the outer edges of the foot, along the arch, and deeply into the edge of the heel. Use your knuckles to massage the arch to relieve back tension.
Hold your ankle with your right hand and the top of your foot with the left, rotating the foot clockwise, then counter-clockwise. As Sachs would say, “It’s a spinal twist for the foot!”
Grasp your big toes and rotate it fully, as if you were drawing a large circle with the tip of the toe. Then rub the toe between the palms of your hands to ease neck pain and tension, and the base of your little toe to ease shoulder tension. Finally, using the flat palm of your hand of your left hand, massage the entire sole of your foot in a figure-8 pattern.
To finish, slap the sole of your foot a few times. Then press the palm of your hand to the center of the sole of your foot. Feeling the subtle energy at this marma
(pressure point) encourages a healthy flow of apana vayu
, the grounding, downward movement of vata
, the Ayurvedic air principle. Repeat the entire sequence on the left foot.
Finally, rinse your feet with warm water, dry thoroughly, and slip them into clean cotton socks, which will allow your feet to feel protected, soft, comfortable, and responsive. Let a smile drift upward to your face.
Reference: Yoga Journal, October 2010