Even though we may not give them enough attention, their big toes are a major part of our asana practice. They balance us in standing poses, keep us active in seated poses, and some poses, they even serve as our Drishti. Why do we keep them? Our meridians could be one possibility…
Traditional Chinese Medicine has 12 principal Meridians through which Qi (or Chi) flows, similar to Prana flowing through our yogic Nadis.
Six meridians run through the arm and begin or end at hand. There are three Yin, lung, heart, and pericardium and three Yang, large intestine, small intestine and triple-burner. Six meridians run through the lower body, beginning at the foot and continuing to the legs. These are the 3 Yin (spleen, liver, kidney, and liver) and the 3 Yang (stomach, bladder, and gallbladder). The big toe is where the liver and spleen meridians begin – more later!
If a meridian (much as a Nadi) gets blocked or impinged, qi can’t flow, and stagnation happens. This is detrimental to the health of both the organ and the person. As a side effect, qi may flow too fast through a Meridian. This can also cause organ health and humans to suffer.
Acupressure and acupuncture are healing modalities that regulate and unblock the flow of Qi. They tap into specific points along the meridians (acupuncture points or acupressure points). Qigong (Chi Guan) is another healing modality that regulates qi. It uses breath, meditation, and soft movement to maintain qi’s optimal flow.
The liver and the spleen meridians are of special note when it comes to big toes.
The liver meridian’s route: It starts at the lateral (inner) edge of your big toe and runs up to the top of your foot, the front of your ankle, the inner calf, and the pubic area. From there, it goes into the stomach, liver, and gallbladder. It eventually connects to the lung meridian. The throat, the eyes and the crown of your head. A liver meridian imbalance can lead to pain in the lower back, abdominal area, and mental disturbances. Also, frequent/unreasonable anger and frustration.
The route of spleen-meridian starts at the medial (or outside) edge of the big toe. It continues inside the foot, ankle, and shin. It crosses the liver meridian and enters the abdominal cavity. From there, it connects to the stomach and spleen. One branch goes up the chest from throat to tongue, and the other connects to the heart-meridian. Flatulence, stomach problems, and bloating are all signs of imbalance in the spleen. Frequent/ unreasonable worry, anxiety.