So, chances are that if you look up the word yoga in whatever search engine you generally use and go to the “images” section you will most definitely run into various individuals captured while carrying out different postures and whilst being completely barefoot. Somehow yoga has been and, for most of us, is still associated with uncovered free flowing feet; and I mean it makes so much sense, being a practice that is strongly linked to concepts such as achieving unity, connection, detachment, and learning about simplicity. Recently though, we have seen the appearance of yoga shoes. NIKE has come up with their Studio Wrap 4, Adidas with their Crazy Move Studio Shoes, and a few other brands have also followed this new trend.
But, do we seriously need shoes for our yoga practice?
I believe that everyone is to make this decision on their own, but before you do here are a few things you may want to consider. Being barefoot while doing yoga makes a lot of sense when you see how your feet are literally the foundation of your practice. If you think about it all standing, or balance yoga poses are built from your feet upwards: your stability, your balance, and your body’s alignment all begin and have their base at your feet. For example, take the Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon Pose: both of your feet work together as one of them pushes you towards the pose while the other one receives the energy of your push while wiggling back and forth as it finds the perfect equilibrium to keep your entire body quietly in this posture. While your foot tries to find its balance, all of its nerves are trying to communicate your mind and body where is it that the perfect comfort can exactly be found; once your foot finds this comfortable equilibrium it becomes easier for your whole body and mind to relax into this position. The moment you add a shoe, which is basically an extra layer in between you and the surface, it immediately becomes an extra step that your foot and body have to figure out in order to be able to become pleasantly rooted into a position.
Having your feet uncovered aids you to feel grounded and connected to the earth, it allows you to soak up the Earth’s energy; you can also feel and see your feet better as you move from pose to pose, which soothes the flow and progression of your movements and, most importantly, you bring awareness to the “active roots” of your body.
Although these shoes were made mainly to solve the problems of hygiene and slippage during the modern yogis’ practice, there are other alternatives to dealing with these problems: such as attending a studio that takes cleanliness seriously (disinfecting the floor after every imparted yoga lesson) or simply buying a mat with a roughed-up surface made out of proper materials.