If you have flat feet, many yoga poses can be hard to manage, and your feet, ankles and calves may experience pain during yoga just as they may experience pain whilst doing other activities. However, yoga can be good for your body as well as your flat feet. You just need a few tips to succeed:
1. Adjust poses as needed.
Every beginning yogi and even some advanced yogis need to adjust poses to work with their body and skill level. Adjust your poses accordingly to work with your flat feet, and talk with your yoga instructor for ideas. For example, when doing a one-legged balancing pose, stand near a wall and use an extended arm as needed for balance. To eliminate pain while doing chair pose or similar poses that stretch your calf muscles, lift your toes to reduce the pressure on your calves.
2. Focus on poses that strengthen problem areas.
While you may need to modify some poses, it's still important to focus on challenging poses. In particular, identify the parts of your body that hurt. If you suffer from flat feet, that may include your calves and ankles as well as your back. Try to focus on poses that strengthen these areas.
3. Integrate arch, ankle and foot exercises.
Talk with your podiatrist about learning some exercises to strengthen your foot and relieve some of the pain associated with your flat feet. Integrate these stretches into your yoga practice. For example, warm up your feet with these stretches before taking an organised class or following a video at home.
4. Be mindful of your feet.
As you move through your practise, be mindful of your feet, how they work and how they feel. This helps you to distribute your weight in the best possible ways, and it also helps you to achieve balance and avoid pain. For example, if you keep in mind how important your big toe is to balance, you can press your weight into that toe during certain poses, helping to alleviate any pressure wrongfully on your arches or heel.
5. Wear your orthotics.
Typically, yoga is done barefoot, but if you have issues with flat feet, you may need to take a different approach. If you have orthotics, consider wearing them while you do yoga. To simulate the feeling of bare feet, pair your orthotics with a pair of barefoot or minimalist shoes. Try a few different pairs of shoes on when shopping, as not every barefoot or minimalist trainer will work with orthotics.