Reasons to Do Yoga Barefoot

Our feet crave space and air (reason #1 to practice yoga barefoot).  Think about it.  We enter this world barefoot, kicking and wiggling about happily.  Some remain barefoot (in many third world countries) and happy for life.  Others (most Americans) cover their feet and as a result have an array of unpleasant foot problems –inflamed bunions, painful plantar fascitis, and throbbing hammer toes.  I once read 70% of people will suffer from foot problems many of which can be prevented.

Human movement starts with the feet.  The feet are the roots of the human body.  They not only provide our connection to the earth but they’re connected to all parts of our body (feet connected to leg bones, legs connected to hip bones, etc).  If you’ve ever visited an orthopedist for knee pain, the first thing he does is take a look at your shoes.  The feet can tell a story…how a person moves, stands, etc.

So why practice yoga barefoot?  Yoga makes your feet stronger (reason #2). It also can make them more mobile/flexible (reason #3), which can be great for preventing sprains (reason #4).

Though awareness (reason #5) and alignment are probably the two main reasons why yogis practice with naked feet. Practicing barefoot makes you more aware of how you stand on your feet and how they feel in relation to the ground below.  The health of the feet is central to healthy alignment (reason #6), which is key not just in yoga but also in keeping us physically healthy and stable in our day-to-day movements -walking, running, skipping and jumping.

The foundation of many asanas (yoga poses) start with the feet so a barefoot practice will make it easier to notice how the soles of the feet feel, from heels to toes, as they spread into the mat (reason #7).  For instance, in Tadasana notice if you spread your weight evenly into your feet or do you put more weight on the inner vs. outer edges.  In balancing poses, notice how rooting all corners of the feet into the mat gives you more stability and greater connection to the ground below.  With shoes and socks on, awareness of the feet is almost non-existent.  Additionally, confined feet make it very challenging to flow smoothly from one pose to the next (reason #8).

Lastly, it just feels good to free the feet (reason #9).  Try it for yourself. Give your feet a vacation and notice the change in your step on and off your yoga mat.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Marie on November 13, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Especially that it just plain feels good! I’m actually sitting barefoot in a cafe while typing this. But I’m also the “hippy” in the office who tends to walk around sans shoes and have been known to have gone to a meeting or two in my bare feet.

    On another note, this article makes some good points.

    http://nymag.com/health/features/46213/

    Reply

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