- Thumb - We understand that the opposable thumb is a big differentiator between humans and a vast number of other mammals, like dolphins, dogs and lions. Without the thumb we can't pick up, grasp or hold objects the same way or with the same strength.
- First Finger - The pointer finger is the digit of authority. We wag it back and forth to show disappoint and disapproval. We put this finger to our lips to shush a noisy room and we point things out with it.
- Second Finger - The middle finger is the longest of the five phalanges. This one finger lifted on its own is a silent symbol of anger and annoyance, but lifted with the first finger is the international sign of peace and love.
- Third Finger - While the third finger is the most difficult to separate from the others, it may be the most looked at in social settings to determine if someone is single or "taken". Many cultures adorn this finger with a ring to show a commitment of marriage, engagement, or promise of love.
- Pinky Finger - Like the wings of a bird, this dainty digit can stretch wide or tuck in. Watch a dancer or yogi to see how the pinky articulates for more energetic and expressive movement.
Balance - Can you imagine walking around and everyone falls into one another because no one can balance on two feet, let alone one foot? Theoretically this would be quite comical but realistically it would be dangerous. The feet, specifically the five toes, aid in the support and balance of the body.
In yoga class, we move through a standing balance series that calls on our feet (and breath) to support our asanas. The yoga teacher tells us to stand on the four corners of the foot, to lift all five toes up and then place each toe down keeping them spread wide. This action helps create a wider base from which to balance. The next time you are falling out of a balancing yoga pose, try spreading the pinky toe out and push down through the big toe. Stability will reset.
Spreading the five toes also engages and activates the foot muscles. Strong feet and a broader base will not only help in yoga class but also as you age. As we get older our balance declines because the cellular renewal in the vestibular system (balance center) of our brain decreases. Ready your toes now.
Push Off and Propel - Try walking around in ski boots all day. You'll find that your movements are inefficient and awkward because your toes can't bend, flex and spread. All animals are uniquely designed for survival -- think about giraffes, panthers, and owls. Humans are naturally designed to run, walk, jump, and lunge. The toes help push the body off the ground and propel it into the next step.Give notice to how your feet move you around and how the toes maneuver, then you'll notice how significant each toe is. Love your feet and all five toes. They play a big role in allowing us to do what we love to do.