By Allison Ray Jeraci
Photo by Andrea Killam
Yoga teachers frequently talk about stretching the hamstrings, and more recently, strengthening them. In stark contrast, the lower leg muscles—and the calves in particular—aren’t addressed nearly as much.
I think the calves deserve much more attention than they receive. “Why?” you may ask. Well, for one, releasing tension in the calves can help relieve foot pain from conditions such as plantar fasciitis, as well as reduce knee pain and stiffness.
I often neglect pampering my calves and then later regret it—especially when I return to my calf-releasing practice, which reminds me what I’ve been missing. I have strong legs, tight calves, and a decent amount of knee flexion available to me, and when I give my calves the love they deserve, my legs approach the world in an entirely different way. I’m better able to ground my heels, which facilitates a new relationship with standing poses. And the deeper knee flexion allowed by more open calves makes bent-knee asanas such as warrior I and malasana more attainable.