Have you seen yogis in poses with their toes all spread out like they’re fingers trying to grab something, and wondered what that was all about?
You might have your own opinions about it – maybe thinking they’re ugly.
Or if you’ve had some kind of dance or gymnastics background, might strongly resist doing this, and opt to point your toes all the way.
To each it’s own, but incase you’re wondering what the whole toe spreadage (I just made that up) is all about. Here’s the lowdown:
First, let me ask you to do a quick exercise to make a point (pun unintended):
First, point your toes. Notice when you do this,the shins are stretched, and your calves are contracted.
Now to the opposite, and flex your toes towards you. Notice here it’s the opposite, your shins contract, and your calves lengthen.
In our yoga practice, we always want to find a balance. So in this case, what makes the engagement of your legs balanced?
It’s called a floint – the balance between a point and a floint.
How it works:
Press the ball of the foot out, as if you were pointing.
Then pull the toes back towards you – and spread them. Spread them like mad.
If the toes don’t spread as much for you. No worries. It takes some practice.
When I first tried to ‘floint’ my feet and practice yogi toes, (by the way, not be confused with the brand of towels and accessories) only my first and last toe seperated. The other 3 in the middle were BFFs not wanting to let go.
It was really interesting, no matter what I did they didn’t move!
Mind you, this was also a time in my life when I was wearing al lot of high heeled shoes, which bunches my poor toes together. Go figure!
Knowing I couldn’t get them to move bothered me so I worked on bringing back movement to them as much as I can, which ended up being almost everyday.
It took a year or two to get them to spread, but I’m happy to say that my yogi toes have come a long way.
So what’s the big deal with them anyway?
Yeah you might not like the way they look, but in your yoga practice, I think what’s more important than how it look – is how it feels.
When I started to to floint, I found that I felt my energy extend all the way to my toes in a way that brought me more balance – especially in arm balances and inversions.
Other than that toe spreadage is great because it:
-Stretches the toes (those little guys need some love too)
-Strengthens the foot muscles
-Helps with balance, especially in standing poses (the spread toes create a wider base, and stronger grip)
-Keeps the toes healthy, avoiding things like hammer toes (when one toe gets way too attached to another)
In case you want to work on your ‘floint’, there are products out there in the market that can help open them up.
But honestly, you can do without them.
Here’s what worked for me:
-I avoided wearing shoes, especially high heeled shoes which weren’t making my toes happy
-When I was chilling in the house, I would walk around with those foam toe separators you use when you get a pedicure. It looked ridiculous, but who cares. My toes were happy.
-When I was at the beach I would walk on soft sand while spreading my toes, letting the the sand create space and run through them.
-Whenever I remembered, I would look at my toes and will for them to open up.
At the end of the day, whether you point or you floint is up to you. It really is a matter of personal preference. At times, I still point my toes.
My suggestion – try the floint in your practice and see how it feels.
That goes for everything else you learn in yoga. Try it out for yourself, if it works, great, if not, atleast you tried and know it’s not for you.
When it comes to arm balances and inversions though, I suggest you choose one – point, floint or flex – this way you can have some kind of engagement in your legs which will help you find more balance .
I’d love to hear from you. What’s your take on yogi toes? Leave me a comment below.
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