There’s a stereotypical image of a yogi practicing with bare feet and if you visit any class, you’ll typically be surrounded by fellow barefooters. But, if you’re someone who doesn’t like getting your feet out, do you have to do yoga in barefoot?
No, you do not have to do yoga barefoot. While shoes are not recommended, yoga socks are a great option if you can’t, or don’t want to, go barefoot during yoga practice. Yoga socks are specifically designed for practicing yoga. They offer a non-slip grip on the bottom and help to protect your feet from the surface below.
In the rest of this article, I’ll explain the pros and cons of going barefoot, why yoga socks are the perfect inbetween, and I’ll tell you what to look for in the perfect yoga sock (spoiler: these Gaiam Yoga Socks are my favorite, but we’ll get to that!).
Should You Do Yoga Barefoot?
Yoga is usually done barefoot, for a variety of reasons:
1. Connection with the floor/mat
First and foremost, being barefoot allows for more contact and connection between the feet and the floor or the mat. This allows for more flexibility and control, particularly when moving between postures.
2. It engages important muscles
In addition, practicing yoga barefoot engages muscles in the feet and in the legs that might not usually get much attention. Most people spend much of their time wearing shoes, even when exercising. The stability, cushioning, and protection offered by shoes isn’t necessary during yoga. In fact, shoes might keep you from experiencing some important benefits of yoga.
3. It helps with balance
Practicing yoga barefoot allows for more instability during standing postures, which is a great thing! When you’re unstable or trying to find your balance in a standing posture, your body benefits. This could help you in the future as you age and balance becomes more of a concern.
Research shows that regularly practicing yoga improves balance, particularly in older adults. The issue of balance and stability becomes increasingly important as we age, since falls can lead to devastating injuries like broken bones.
One study compared a group of older adults who practiced yoga to a group who practiced Tai Chi, and compared both to a control group that led a less active lifestyle. The researchers found that both the yoga and Tai Chi practitioners had better leg strength and were significantly better able to maintain their balance than the control group.
Interestingly, the researchers found that the yoga group had slightly better balance than the Tai Chi group. They theorized that this was because of the differences in how these activities were performed: yoga was practiced barefoot and on a less stable surface, like a mat, while Tai Chi was practiced with shoes and on a more stable surface, like the ground or a hard floor.
As a result of practicing barefoot, the study’s yoga participants were more accustomed to being unstable on one or both feet. Their bodies were more capable of maintaining balance than both the Tai Chi and inactive groups.
But, Barefoot isn’t always best….
While yoga is usually practiced barefoot, there are occasions when you might prefer to have something on your feet. Maybe when you sweat the mat begins to feel too slippery. Perhaps you’re practicing outside, or on a surface that is rough or dirty.
There are people who have medical conditions that prevent them from practicing barefoot. And there are also people who feel self-conscious about being barefoot around others in a yoga class. That’s all OK!
Yoga is all about bringing your most authentic self to your practice and making it your own. If you can’t (or don’t want to) go barefoot, yoga socks are a great option. Yoga socks allow you to reap the benefits of yoga with a little more grip, protection, and modesty. Read on below for some great information on yoga socks.
Introducing Yoga Socks
Yoga socks are footwear designed for practicing yoga. They generally offer a grippy or textured surface that gives you more control and stability in the bottom of the foot.
Practicing yoga with non-slip socks lets you experience the many benefits of yoga with a little more peace of mind. They’re a great alternative to practicing with your shoes on; the feet are able to flex and move as if you were barefoot.
Many yoga socks are made with moisture-wicking fabrics that will help to keep your feet dry during your practice. Additionally, they provide a layer of protection between your feet and the surface underneath. This can be reassuring if you have concerns about cleanliness.
What Are the Best Yoga Socks?
Have I sold you on yoga socks? I was super happy when I first heard about them too. Here are some of my top picks:
These non-slip yoga socks from Gaiam are available toeless, so the toes have direct contact with your mat, or as “toe socks,” which are like gloves for your feet.
Featuring support and stability at an attractive price, these non-slip socks have a closed-toe design and feel like the comfort of wearing regular socks.
These moisture-wicking and breathable non-slip socks are designed for men and would look just as good in a boxing ring as in a yoga studio.
Can You Do Yoga With Shoes On?
Yes, you can do yoga with shoes on if you wish. It’s not the best option and you won’t get the full benefits of practicing barefoot, but any yoga is better than no yoga at all!
Just make sure that if you’re in a yoga studio, you don’t wear the same shoes you were wearing when you walked in.
You can be respectful of the studio and the others practicing with you by making sure the shoes you wear during class are clean and free of dirt from outside.
Can You Do Yoga With Socks On?
Yes, you can do yoga with socks on! It’s a great option if you can’t (or don’t want to) go barefoot. However, keep in mind that most socks are going to be very slippery on the floor or the mat.
Yoga socks that offer some grip are going to be your best bet. There are great options for yoga socks that offer a non-slip grip and keep your feet dry and comfortable.
The YogaMad is founded by Mila, an avid yogini who is passionate about inspiring others to live their best lives while finding mind-body-soul balance. She has a background in business consulting but has left the corporate world in her quest to live out her dreams as a yoga nomad.