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The Foot Whisperer

Do your feet need a little TLC? Energized by her distinctive approach on body wellness, ILYSM teamed up with Yamuna Zake for an exclusive Valentine's Day giveaway in promotion of her new book, "The Foot Fix."

What role does the foot play in our overall body’s health? 

Let's say everything okay, let's start there - because they are your foundation. If your foundation isn't strong and cant support your whole body up, all the other parts of your body start to lose their vibrancy.

Okay so if I slouch and I get heavy and my whole body is dropping into my feet- all the weight of my body, over time the feet just cant do it. And they have the ability to be powered so that they can feed up energy through your whole body.

Let alone let's talk about reflexology and all the reflex points in your feet for stimulating the rest of your body, and in Chinese medicine all of the acupuncture points which are in your feet that nourish the rest of the body.

So I'd say the feet are the place in the body that everyone should be paying attention to.

Who needs a foot fix? What are common, obvious signs that we should be paying more attention to our feet?

You know the body gives you messages all the time, but it's up to you to pay attention to them. How 'bout your feet just are tired at the end of the day, or they just feel achy, or they get swollen, or you start noticing that your big toe is turning into a bunion or you start to notice that you're gripping and your toes are turning into hammer toes. None of that might hurt - YET, but it's your feet giving you symptoms that you better do something.

What about your arch? You've always had a great arch and all of a sudden it's falling. That's your body saying "I need a foot fix." Don't wait until you're in pain. Get your Foot Fix now.

Can you share one easy exercise that will get us started on our foot fix journey? 

Here's an easy exercise to practice your gate to go from your heel through the ball of the foot and toes:

So take one foot behind you. You can keep both knees slightly bent and I want you to lean back into that back foot. 

And now pick up that heel. You see when you pick up that heel the body lifts... Just look at that. So you come to the ball of the foot, you bend your knee, you press all five toes down and then you go back, roll through the ball of the foot - and bring that heel down, lean back.

Do it again. Pick up the heel, you're in the ball of the foot. Bend your knee, press all five toes down, and then roll through the ball of the foot. Back to the heel, and do it again...

Pick up that heel, lift up through the ball of the foot. Press all five toes down and roll back- straight back to the heel...

And make sure that you do that on both feet. Trying starting with it five times. The minute you do that, that side that you did is more uplifted, is lighter... And you're lighter on your foot too.

What role does footwear choice play in foot health? 

You know that's a really tricky one and so I try not to tell you one brand- okay, because it depends on who you are. Would I recommend that you always wear stilettos all day no? 

But I would recommend that if you had a party and you really loved wearing stilettos, that you should be able to do that. Being able to wear whatever shoe you want is what I really believe. And that means that you've gotta educate your feet. You've gotta learn how to keep them strong, healthy, gait fabulous, so that you can wear anything. Any shoe you want... However, there's times where you've got your day shoe. You've got your walking shoe. 

And so what do you want from a walking shoe? You want it to have movement so that all the parts of your feet can move.You want it to give you negative heels so that you start back in your heels. And then from there, because if your weight is forward into the ball foot and toes when you start, you're never using your whole foot correctly. 

So being in that negative heel first of all frees your back, improves your posture, and then you can go forward into ball, foot, and toes. So, negative heel is something to look for but then there's also:

"What about the outer foot?"

"What about all ten toes?"

"What about the ball of the foot?"

You want to get a shoe that gives you space so that those toes can actually work. When your heels and your outer foot and your toes ball and foot are able to move/transfer weight, you don't need anything to shove into the arch where normal arch supports are.

What do you look for in a healthy shoe? 

For me a healthy shoe means that it gives me a negative heel so that when I'm just standing I'm standing tall, I'm not loading my back, my posture's improved... and then I want freedom in the front of my shoe.

I want the ball of the foot to take its fullness. I want to be able to press all ten toes down. I want to be able to reach with all ten toes. I want to be able to activate the outer foot. I want to be able to find it when I'm walking and walk through it. I want a shoe that's going to help me be mindful of walking from heel, ball, foot, into toes. That's a big order to ask for, okay. Some shoes have some of it, some shoes have others.

So what I say is, get your own feet educated first. Then you can be smarter in that healthy shoe.

What role does personal style play in your life? How has your thinking evolved over time?

I've always loved fashion. I've always loved you know - what's happening, what are people doing... But I've always done it my way. I've always kept my own style, my own fashion, my own way of being in life. And so one of the things that's always been important for me is natural fibers.

I want to wear cotton - organic if possible. I want to wear cashmere, I want to wear silk, I want to wear everything that's not synthetic on my body. And so I think that I've evolved even more into, I want to feel good in my clothes. I want them to make me sexy and fabulous - but all natural.

What is one thing that has brought you joy or comfort recently?

When the quarantine began last march 2020, I was swooped up by my daughter from New York City to be taken to her home in Pennsylvania where we stayed together for 3 months which was unbelievably wonderful for me. And during that time I was wondering what's this all about? What's are deeper lessons here, and what can I do during this time? 

And so during this time I taught a lot of online classes. I taught breathing classes for free on FB and IG and I realized that by giving, and getting people to breathe, and strengthen their lungs, I was having more and more joy and I looked forward to sharing every single day, and I was thankful that I was given the gift to be able to do this.

So I think I did learn a lot about joy and sharing and being there for people during COVID-19.

*This interview has been transcribed and edited from the original source.