By Noa Glow
We love the close-knit community that Bikram Yoga Vancouver has created, but that doesn’t have to mean sharing everything with each other! While footwear’s banned in the hot room itself, other studio spaces, like the lobby and change rooms, aren’t the best places for bare feet. Find out how wearing flip-flops before/after class can protect your tootsies – and your fellow yogis feet, too!
What your feet say about your health
The state of your feet says a lot about your overall health. Bikram Yoga instructor Ulrike, who is also a nurse, says reflex zones on the soles of the feet can be massaged to stimulate various organs in the body, like the liver and pancreas. You can even detect certain conditions, like nutritional deficiencies and diabetes, by examining your feet. Frequent foot cramps, for example, may indicate dehydration; cold feet could be a sign of poor circulation.
Funky foot problems
Your feet are also highly prone to fungal infections, especially if you walk around public places – like the yoga studio – barefoot and unprotected. One of the most common fungal infections associated with bare feet is athlete’s foot, which causes peeling, redness, itching, burning, blisters and sores. This fungus grows best in warm, moist environments, such as locker rooms and the floors of public showers. Certain types of foot warts can also be an issue in change rooms, since the viruses that cause them can be transferred from person to person through contact with an infected surface.
According to health-care professionals, the best remedy for these and other issues is to protect your feet with shoes or socks when using public spaces. Flip-flops (like Native Blanca sandals) are a great option for the yoga studio, as they can be worn in the shower. Please consider packing a pair along with your yoga clothes, mat and towel whenever you head to the studio.
Keep fungus out of the hot room
If you contract a particularly nasty foot infection, you may want to take a break from yoga until the problem clears up – your fellow yogis will thank you! When you feel you’ve got the issue under control, bring a pair of clean socks with you to class and wear them when you enter the hot room. Once you’ve safely put down your mat, remove your socks and avoid placing your bare feet directly on the floor.
Treating athlete’s foot
Besides seeing your doctor, who may recommend an over-the-counter antifungal product, treating a case of athlete’s foot can simply come down to keeping your feet clean and dry at all times! Possible natural at-home remedies include tea tree oil (a few drops applied to the affected area or in a foot bath) and supplemental probiotics to boost your immune system.
Corns & calluses
With over 250,000 sweat glands apiece, your feet are a major route for eliminating toxins from your body. But when they’re covered with corns, calluses or layers of dead skin – all of which can be caused by footwear that’s too tight or loose – your feet can’t “breathe” properly, and bacteria may grow. Besides wearing appropriate and well-fitting shoes and socks, exfoliating your feet on the regular can eliminate corns, calluses and dead skin over time.
Besides the yucky conditions mentioned above, the issue of safety is one we take very seriously at BYV. We do everything in our power to provide an injury-free environment for students, but walking around barefoot can leave you vulnerable to stubbing a toe or stepping on a sharp object. Wearing footwear immediately outside the hot room will decrease your chances of injury – just remember to leave your flip-flops at the door.
Tips for sweet feet
You can stay on top of your general health (and make sure you’re not putting fellow yogis in harm’s way) by checking your feet weekly for calluses, warts and cracks in the skin. If you notice signs of infection, like peeling skin, blisters or sores, see your doctor. You can also keep your feet clean, healthy and fungus free by adopting the following foot-care regime:
- Clean daily with soap and water
- Scrub off dead skin with a pumice stone
- Keep toenails cut to a reasonable length (nails that are too short can become ingrown)
- Treat with essential oils and/or foot soaks
- Change socks daily and wear socks made of natural materials, like cotton or wool
- Give shoes 24 hours to air out after wearing, and wear leather or canvas shoes that let your feet breathe
- Wear a shoes size that fits you properly
- Work on your standing posture
Lisa’s personal foot regime
To take care of her tootsies, BYV owner Lisa Pelzer takes a hot bath three times a week, allowing her feet to soak for 10-15 minutes at a time. Once the skin has softened, Lisa uses a pumice stone to scrub her soles to remove any dead skin, including the cuticles (no need to cut them). Finally, before bed, she massages avocado, coconut or olive oil on her feet (lay a small towel on the floor next to your bed to prevent slipping when you wake up). For an effective natural foot soak, Lisa boils two bags of black tea for 15 minutes and then adds four cups of cool water, soaking her feet in this mixture for 30 minutes. The tannic acid in the tea will help kill any bacteria that’s grown attached to your tootsies!