Group of people performing yoga poses together

Yoga for Feet: Strengthening and Flexibility Exercises

Yoga is a respected form of healthy, low-impact exercise. It fosters physical strength, mental well-being, and helps with flexibility training. But what you may not know about is what yoga can do for your feet. 

Yoga and foot health have a close connection. Your feet serve as the base for most exercises, so almost every famous yoga pose doubles as a foot strengthening exercise in some way! Specifically, studies show that yoga can help with musculoskeletal problems in the lower extremities. Whether it’s toe yoga exercises, yoga for ankle strengthening, or yoga for arch support, most poses work wonders for the feet. Today we’ll talk about the top four, how you should perform them, and what they do for your foot health.

Top Yoga Foot Strengthening Exercises

  • Downward-facing dog
  • Tree pose
  • Warrior pose
  • Cat-cow pose
Woman performing downward dog pose with her dog at home

Downward-Facing Dog

This well-known pose provides a nice calf stretch, in addition to being a good ankle and foot strengthening exercise due its ability to target the smallest, stabilizing muscles in the feet. Try this yoga pose to protect against foot injuries, promote arch support, and help manage conditions like Achilles tendonitis

How to: 

  1. Start in a tabletop position (this is a foundation pose for many yoga exercises, and basically just means being on your hands and knees)
  2. Lift your hips towards the ceiling, straightening your legs and arms.
  3. Form an inverted “V” shape with your body, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart and feet hip-width apart.
  4. Press your palms into the mat, lengthen your spine, and draw your heels toward the floor.
  5. Hold the position, breathing deeply, and feel the stretch in your hamstrings and shoulders.
  6. To release, bend your knees and return to the tabletop position.

Tip: To liven up your downward-facing dog pose, you can incorporate toe raises (during step 4 and 5), where the body is supported by just your toes instead of the entire foot. This can do more when targeting conditions like flat feet and bunions.

cat cow pose illustration feet first clinic original image

Cat-Cow Pose

The cat-cow pose is praised for the way it engages your spine and helps manage back pain. But you can modify the traditional version to strengthen and stretch your feet more. Let’s take a look at the traditional way to perform the pose, and add our modifications so you can give your feet more attention. 

How to (traditional): 

  1. Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  2. Inhale, arch your back, lift your head, and drop your belly (cow pose).
  3. Exhale, round your spine, tuck your chin to your chest (cat pose). 

How to (modified): 

  • While in the cow pose, press the tops of your feet into the mat and actively curl your toes, engaging the muscles in your feet.
  • While in the cat pose, purposely point your toes away from you, stretching the tops of your feet and creating a gentle stretch in the ankles.

Tree Pose

Like downward-facing dog, the tree pose strengthens the small muscles in the ankles and feet. But another perk is how it can help you improve your balance, which people with foot and toe deformities, like bunions and hammertoes, and different types of arthritis, often need to focus on. The tree pose also helps strengthen the arches of the feet, providing support and stability for those with flat feet. 

How to: 

  1. Stand on one leg, shifting your weight to the same foot as the leg you choose. 
  2. Bring the sole of your other foot to the inner thigh or calf. 
  3. Bring your palms together in front of your chest or reach them overhead.
  4. Hold the pose, maintaining balance as best as you can. 
  5. Repeat on the other leg.
Woman performing yoga warrior pose

Warrior II Pose

Due to its wide stance, the Warrior II pose provides a balance challenge, calf engagement, and can be a solid means of targeting ankle stability. Also, as you ground the outer edge of your back foot and press down through the inner arch, you engage the muscles in the arch of the foot. 

The best part? This is one of the easiest yoga poses to master, and makes you feel confident and powerful! 

How to: 

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet about 3-4 feet apart.
  2. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, aligning the heel with the arch of your left foot. Extend your arms parallel to the floor.

Looking for More Guidance on Foot Strengthening and Flexibility Training?

At Feet First Clinic, our chiropodists know a thing or two about treating your feet with care! Whether it’s general advice, at-home tips, or in-house treatments, we’re confident we have all the tools for making your feet feel their best! Call us at (416) 769-3338 or book an appointment online!


Cover photo by yanalya from FreePik!

Body images by FreePik (downward dog), Feet First Clinic (cat cow illustration), and yanalya from FreePik(warrior pose)!

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