Ask Aunt Yoga - Why Is Yoga Done Barefoot?

Barefoot Yogi
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Dear Aunt Yoga,

Why must you take off your shoes and socks while doing yoga?

-J.

Dear J.,

Unless you are a professional lifeguard, freelance writer, or yoga teacher, chances are you spend most of your day wearing shoes. And shoes are great for doing lots of things: mountain climbing, city-sidewalk pounding, disco dancing. But not for yoga.

At yoga studios, it is common practice (and good etiquette) to remove your street shoes at the door.

(Which reminds me: don't walk across the yoga room floor in your shoes before taking them off. In doing so, you're tracking in outside dirt and being disrespectful.)

Bare feet are better able to find stable, balanced contact with the floor, which is essential for standing poses. Shoes are clunky and inflexible and socks are slippery. Working with bare feet also provides a rare opportunity to stretch and strengthen all the muscles in your feet, which can help support your arches and prevent foot pain.

However, taking off your shoes and socks is less of a "must do" and more of a "strongly recommended." If you have an injury or ailment that prevents you from going barefoot, you can certainly work around that by wearing flexible-soled shoes or grippy socks. There are even some scenarios (hiking yoga comes to mind) where shoes are necessary. Still, while it's possible to do yoga in shoes, it's not ideal.

If you are hesitant to go barefoot because you feel self conscious about your feet, try to get past it. Yoga is all about accepting your body for what it can do, starting from the ground up.

Namaste,

Aunt Yoga

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