Do You Wear Shoes in Yoga?

Full length of a smiling woman sitting on exercise mat
woman wearing shoes on yoga mat (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Lightwavemedia/Getty Images)

Most yoga instructors invite students to kick off their shoes and socks. Although you may not be used to exercising barefoot, the lack of footwear in yoga allows you to be hyper-aware of how your feet are connecting with the ground and where you're carrying your weight. However, you don't always have to go completely barefoot if you don't want to.

Try Special Socks

If you're not comfortable going completely barefoot in yoga, you can wear socks; however, be aware that you may be more likely to slip in certain poses. Socks with nonslip gripping pads on the soles are a good choice. Many yoga companies make special socks for this purpose; some have separated toes or open toe and heel areas to mimic the barefoot experience. Nonslip yoga socks and gloves can even stand in for a mat when you don't have one available.

Use Shoes for Yoga-Aerobics

Some aerobics classes and videos that incorporate yoga moves indicate you should wear shoes for at least part of the workout. That's sensible, as dancing and other aerobics routines have more impact on the joints than yoga does. For these types of workouts, wear athletic shoes for the aerobic portion and go barefoot or in socks for the yoga and stretching components if you wish.

Combat Germs

As with other types of exercise done indoors in groups, yoga has the potential to create a germ-filled environment. The thought of getting an infection or other type of contamination can make many people reluctant to go barefoot in a yoga class. Buy your own yoga mat instead of using one supplied by the studio, if possible; if you choose to borrow a mat, use disinfectant spray to clean it before and after class. Don't go barefoot if you have open sores on your feet, and wash your feet after class.

Consider Yoga Shoes

If you have problems with your feet, are doing yoga outdoors or just need something more supportive than bare feet or socks, there are yoga shoes and sandals available. Yoga shoes often resemble ballet flats or nylon water shoes and are made of shock-absorbing materials like foam and rubber. If you wish to wear yoga shoes in a traditional class setting, let your instructor know; she may not be used to students who wish to wear shoes.

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