Yoga sandals for balance and detoxification

They’re swim-friendly, comfortable, attractive and inexpensive. What more could someone ask for in a sandal? Well, how about help with balancing and detoxing the body? That’s exactly what one gets when wearing Yoga sandals, 5-thong footwear originally meant for the beach, but quickly adopted by Yogins who appreciate the increased toe spread the shoes afford, as well as the lymph production they induce.

How do Yoga sandals help balance the body?

In these colder climates feet spend most of their lives stuffed into shoes, effectively narrowing the person’s stance, thus reducing the balance point and forcing the skeletal structure to compensate for the resulting unsteadiness by compromising the whole body alignment. Yoga sandals help open up the toes and give the wearer a broader platform to stand on. The body becomes more free to walk and stand without needlessly over- or under-compensating. Get off that balance beam and onto open ground!

How do Yoga sandals help the body detoxify?

When activated, the acupressure points located between the toes stimulate the lymphatic system. The double reward of this effect is the drainage of toxins from bodily tissues and the boosting of the immune system by the increase in production of infection stopping white blood cells.

Sandra Sammartino, one of the most well-loved teachers living on the west coast, sells Yoga sandals online. Click here to find out more about buying them.


“I’ve got a few pairs, and my feet are happier than they’ve ever been.”

“I mistakenly thought my feet were pretty free, with flexible toes after years of yoga practice. That illusion was revealed the moment I tried sliding on a pair of yoga sandals! It took me a week of wearing them to get my toes to open up. It gets smoother in time, but not without a certain amount of quirky sensations coming from the tender inner toe skin and from the secretly immobile baby toes. With all that said, I now consider yoga sandals as part of my health regime.”

“With a broader base to stand on my posture has become even, my spine more aligned, and my stance more grounded.”

“If I feel a cold or flu coming on, I slip my yoga sandals on as a matter of prevention.”

“They felt awkward at first, but it’s worth it. They are therapeutic.”

“They’re durable and fun. I like wearing them even in winter, with a pair of toe socks of course.”

Click here to buy Yoga Sandals now

Fish, Shoulder Stand, and Plow: A Classic Yoga Routine

These three yoga postures are perfect compliments for each other, as they offer a nice balance of movements and counter-movements:

  • Matsyasana – Fish pose
  • Sarvangasana¬† – Shoulder Stand pose
  • Halasana – Plow pose

They are such a natural combination that it’s common to attend a class and find them making up the basis for the lesson plan.¬† Here is a yoga routine that uses these three classic poses, their supported (salamba) versions. As with any exercise that focuses on the neck region, please practice due diligence.

Routine to Loosen the Neck and Shoulders

Tadasana – Mountain pose, getting warmed up with the 3 Part Yoga Breath and an inspirational reading.

Salamba Matsyasana – The supports at the knees can be Body Rolling Balls, belts, or other students on either side of wide spread knees.

Balasana – Child pose

Ardha Padmasana – Half Lord of the Fishes (sitting spinal twist)

Interlace fingers over head – drop and relax shoulders

Parivritta Padmasana – Revolved Lotus, a gentle seated twist (both sides), breathe to lengthen the spine

Marjoriasana – Cat pose, make it a vinyasa (flow series)

Adho Mukha Svanasana – Down Dog pose, walk up to hands, grasp elbows then slowly roll up to standing

Tadasana – move from Mountain pose to Energy Sweeps (gentle side to side swinging movements from floor to ceiling)

Balasana – Three Part Yoga Breath focusing on back breathing

Virasana – Hero pose

Apanasana – Reversed Child pose, also known as Knees to Chest pose

Salamba Sarvangasana – Supported Shoulder Stand pose, using a cushion under the tailbone

Salamba Halasana – Supported Plow pose, using a chair for the feet and keeping the cushion under the tailbone

Matsyasana – remove supports

Lying twists – gentle counter movements to the Three Classic Poses

Savasana – Corpse pose, end relaxation with more Three Part Yoga Breath and inspirational reading

Radha Yoga, local classes, and letting go of expectations

Although many people I have met in BC valued their time at the Yasodhara Ashram, and many local teachers are very committed to going there regularly, I know of others who were put off by their experience. It has been almost 3 years since I went to the ashram, and in that time I have given these responses some thought. I believe a negative reaction to the ashram, not my experience at all, may have more to do with our western-world mindset than anything inherent in the place itself.

In general North Americans don’t have anything to base expectations on. Perhaps people go into the Yasodhara experience subconsciously anticipating something unrealistic, like a spa, or maybe a vacation. This unexamined hope is a little like shooting yourself in the foot, because yoga is some of the most challenging work that can be undertaken and requires surrendering expectations.

The Yasodhara Ashram, located on Kootenay Lake in the interior of this beautiful province, is a karma yoga ashram, so everyone works to make it run well, even visitors. Personally, this was challenging because I arrived there exhausted so the initial stages of my 2 week schedule were a little grueling. The positive:

it provided me with the opportunity to cultivate daily living as my spiritual practice, which is one of the most effective maxims I have encountered for actually thriving in this world.

Swami Radha, founder of Ascent Magazine and Timeless Books, established the ashram in the 60’s and was a German raised, ferocious teacher. Her teaching style is one of the main reasons she was so effective, and still remains a potent yogi16 years after her death. An example of how her approach has played out:

Swami Radha was adamant that her students relied on their own inner guru (or teacher) to guide them, not on anyone or anything external.

The teachers who remain at the ashram carrying on her legacy are true to her in this and many other regards. They are not superficially warm or overly endearing, which urges new students not to idealize the swamis but to hold a truly introspective space and do healing soul work on their own – which absolutely is the only way it can be effectively done.

My ashram experience was so potent that even now 3 years later it still resonates for me everyday. 

Every Radha teacher I have met has immeasurable integrity, and without exception I have learned important lessons through them all. I am better for my ashram pilgrimage in more ways than I can tell, and for having studied Radha Yoga for 12 years. Holding to Swami Radha’s maxim “make daily living your spiritual practice” is a staple of security for me.

I would recommend to anyone, “go to the Kootenays, without expectations, and walk onto Yasodhara’s grounds with great humility.” One certainly needs to be prepared to have the inner quagmire stirred, so my advice would be to go with as much spiritual clarity as possible. If a trip to the Yasodhara Ashram is not possible at this time, you can always join classes with local Radha Yoga teachers Arlene Trustham and Sharon Haave:

There are still spaces in the workshop, Relax into Peace, Harmony & Joy on April 9th 10 am -3 pm. Relaxation allows the body to heal and the mind to receive intuitive insights. Practice gentle yoga and breath awareness with a focus on relaxation. Drink deeply from the fountains of peace, harmony and joy within. Breathe easy and see what arises.

Wear comfortable clothing, bring a journal. Fee: $45

On Wednesdays, 4-5:30 pm, there are ongoing drop-in classes in Hidden Language Hatha Yoga in the Common House at Creekside. Bring a journal, wear comfortable clothing for this reflective hatha. Drop in fee $10.00. Series continues until May 18th.

Monthly Sunday satsangs, 7-8 pm in the Creekside Common House Lounge on March 27th, April 17th and May 15th.


Quotes from Will Johnson’s book Yoga of the Mahamudra

Even though his use of the term Mahamudra is not bound by any particular historic tradition, thus challenging me to think outside the box of my beloved Kagyu lineage, Will Johnson is highly quotable. Here are some of my favourites:

The embodied cross is the path and the reward for those who want to explore the yoga of balance (We are embodied crosses).

Mahamudra urges us to take full advantage of the incredible privilege of having been born humans in this era.

It is the birthright of each one of us to experience our fundamental identity and a force that feels much larger than us.

The current of life force flows on whether we’re aware of it or not. Align yourself with it’s motions (through increased awareness) and become happier in your short time on earth.

The focus of the Mahamudra teachings is to remain loose and natural in every moment of your life.

From moment to moment, from breath to breath, what we feel shifts. Keep floating along this sea of change that masquerades as a solid body. 

We are NOT trying to achieve a perfected state of balance and then freeze it there. 

To surrender the body’s weight to the pull of gravity is to initiate the yoga of balance. 

It is important not to condemn and injure the egoic “I” of separation, because although it causes you to suffer, and its beliefs are limited and incomplete, it is what FEELS existence, and that feeling is the only port from which you can embark on your great journey inward.

Ask constantly “who am I?”… as it’ll change moment to moment.

The “I” of separation is a thought, a word – in your mind. The “I” of union is a state of being, and exists not as a word, but as a feeling.

Give up all questions except “Who am I?”. After all the only fact of which you are certain is that you ARE. The “I am” is certain, the “I am this” is not.

Find your way back to the simple feeling that I AM without having to qualify it. The embodied cross keeps leading us, ushering us, deeper into a feeling awareness that is out of bounds for words.

Wavelets of energy don’t need to name themselves to know they exist.

Book Notes – Yoga of the Mahamudra: the Mystical Way of Balance by Will Johnson

Although this book has nothing to do with the Mahamudra Yoga of the Kagyu Lineage that I am currently studying through the local hermitage, I enjoyed it nonetheless. The author, Will Johnson, inspires the reader to come into his or her most natural expression. Raw, real and personal – theory is tossed aside for practice, and the practice is:

Entirely living the fullness of each moment

Mr. Johnson wastes no time in breaking apart the concept of god, divinity or spirit. How refreshing! He would rather have us dance than plunk down into sitting meditation, but more than anything his call to action is to be relaxation itself, navigating alertly through the body with curiousity while attempting to loosen our bonds on thoughts, worries, planning and strategizing. What a gift to the western yogin.

I see Yoga of Mahamudra to be about getting beyond the formal teachings of asana, and learning to just move the way your body wants. Allow movement to be your friend…