The feet are gateways to our internal organs and, when stimulated, can aid in a powerful detoxification. They also withstand a lot of pressure throughout the day. They are our literal foundation and, be it through unsupportive footwear or unforgiving pavement, often take a lot of abuse. Last month we posted a guide to simple and profound self care practices in honor of Mother’s Day; this month, when summer officially begins and our feet are on display — and withstand hot sand, sweaty shoes and wedding dance floors — we put together a foot-specific treatment plan in the same vein of loving-kindness.
Show your soles some love with an aromatic foot soak and massage. It’s a simple way to recharge from the ground up. Here’s how:
For a cooling soak, fill a foot tub with cool water and a handful of dried lavender and rose petals. If you don’t have fresh herbs and flowers on hand, essential oils work just as well; peppermint is another cooling, calming option.
For a warming soak, use hot water, powdered or fresh ginger (sliced), and a few tablespoons of Epsom salt. The body will absorb the magnesium in the salt, helping to reduce inflammation, and the ginger will increase circulation.
Soak your feet for at least 10 minutes. Resist the urge to scroll through Instagram or answer emails. Use this as a chance to meditate or simply recharge.
After patting your feet dry, rub them with a generous helping of sesame, almond or coconut oil. Use oil liberally throughout — the skin, our largest organ, needs hydration any way it can get it, and oil on the skin helps it retain water. Give your toes, ball mounds, arches, and Achilles tendons lots of love and attention. Be intuitive and apply as much pressure as you can handle.
Here are a few ways to get started:
Cross your ankle over your knee and, using both hands, move your ankle in slowly widening circles. Take the circles in one direction and then the other.
Press your foot between your palms and rub back and forth, toe to heel, moving quickly to stimulate circulation and warm up cold toes or slowly to calm the nervous system.
Join your thumbs at the base of the sole and and press up and out toward the ball mound, just below the toes. After several sweeps, move to the toes, pressing all five back and forth at once, like the hinge of door. Then, massage each toe individually, spending time at the base, on each knuckle and at the nail bed.
Take a cue from Reflexology:
Our kidney point is located in the very center of the sole of each foot. An acupuncturist once described the kidneys to me as our bodies’ battery packs: they are what keep us charged. Anyone dealing with stress, fatigue, the stimulation of an urban environment, or general loss of “me” time will experience imbalance and strain on the kidneys. In Chinese medicine the name for this point, Kidney 1, is Yongquan, Bubbling Spring. I love the image of an eternally replenished stream, bubbling up and over, never losing energy or flow.
Locate and massage this point to bring your own spring back into action. The benefits associated with stimulating and caring for the kidneys, via the feet, are a grounding down of energy; the alleviation of dizziness, headaches and insomnia; and increased fertility and vitality.
For more opening, consider wearing yogi toe separators before your soak, and around the house in general. They stretch the toes, contribute to a general awareness of how we stand, and make it easier to find “the four corners of the feet” yoga teachers are always talking about; they are absolutely goofy and totally worth it.