Most people know that yoga is done barefoot. But why is this the case? And can you wear shoes for yoga if you want to?
The fact is, yoga is done barefoot because of tradition, etiquette, and practicality.
Yoga is rooted in spiritual tradition, and is also a form of bodyweight exercise that involves a lot of movement performed in contact with the ground.
But, despite that, some people do yoga wearing socks. Some people also do yoga wearing shoes!
So, while the short and sweet answer is that no, it’s common to wear shoes for yoga (at home or at a yoga class), there are reasons some people might wear shoes for yoga.
For the full answer, keep reading as we run through the reasons for and against wearing shoes for yoga below.
Reasons Against Wearing Shoes For Yoga
Aside from yoga tradition and yoga studio etiquette, there are several reasons why wearing shoes for yoga is not practical, beneficial, or even comfortable.
Shoes Can Reduce Performance
Yoga is a slow-paced, flowing, form of exercise that involves transitioning between different yoga poses (asanas) that require flexibility, mobility, and balance.
So, it should go without saying that wearing shoes can reduce your ability to balance as well as smoothly transition between various yoga poses and postures.
Even light shoes, such as plimsolls, can restrict movement and reduce balance – for example, when performing eagle pose and headstands/handstands.
Overall, wearing shoes for yoga adds weight and bulk to your feet that, although it might not seem significant, can reduce performance. In other words, it’s simply not practical!
Shoes Can Reduce Grip
Adding to reduced performance, wearing shoes when doing yoga can reduce your grip.
Yoga is typically performed on a yoga mat. These are made from materials that are designed to increase grip when barefoot, so wearing shoes on yoga mats can reduce this grip and even increase the risk of slipping.
For example, yoga poses that require foot grip, such as downward-facing dog pose and high plank pose might be harder to do when wearing shoes.
In addition, wearing shoes on yoga mats may even cause damage to your yoga mat, or cause it to become dirtier than usual.
Shoes Can Make You Sweat
Let’s be honest, wearing shoes when exercising often leads to sweaty feet. And for yoga—especially certain yoga styles, such as hot yoga—this is not going to be comfortable, or even good for your shoes!
The last thing you want while doing hot yoga, or even physical yoga styles—such as power yoga, ashtanga yoga, or vinyasa yoga—is hot, sweaty (and smelly) feet.
This is even more unideal when considering how most yoga studios are small and intimate spaces.
So, this is yet another reason why wearing shoes for yoga isn’t ideal, practical, or even comfortable.
Reasons For Wearing Shoes For Yoga
It’s not common to see someone wearing shoes in a yoga class! But despite that, there are several genuine reasons to wear shoes while doing yoga.
Shoes Can Offer Support And Prevent Injuries
Just like running shoes can support runners, wearing shoes can help support some people’s feet and posture doing yoga.
These people might have high arches, ankle pain, or a recovering foot injury, making shoes either more comfortable or entirely necessary.
Wearing shoes for yoga may also prevent injuries from occurring, since there are a lot of yoga poses that put stress on the feet, or may result in falls that can injure the feet.
Overall, offering foot support and preventing foot injuries are the main reasons someone might wear shoes while doing yoga.
Shoes Can Help Standing Poses
There are many different types of yoga poses (asanas), and one of the most popular types is standing yoga poses.
Examples of standing yoga poses include tree pose, eagle pose, chair pose, warrior 1 pose, warrior 2 pose, and standing forward bend.
For these yoga poses, wearing shoes can help to make them easier by offering grip, stability, and foot support.
It’s hard enough to balance for most yoga poses, let alone standing yoga poses (eagle pose, we’re looking at you).
So, for some people, wearing shoes can help with performing standing yoga poses.
You Forgot Your Yoga Mat
Last but not least, you forgot to bring your mat to yoga class.
You knew there was something you left at home, but couldn’t remember what it was. And for that reason, you didn’t think it was important.
But it turned out to be your yoga mat.
Your yoga instructor and fellow classmates don’t have a spare yoga mat, so you’re forced to, well… do yoga on the floor in your shoes.
Yoga studios typically have hard floors, so it just makes sense to avoid slipping all over the place in your socks or on sweaty feet.
In another situation, the yoga class might be outdoors, making shoes optional.
So, forgetting your yoga mat is another plausible reason to wear shoes when doing yoga. But, of course, it’s definitely a last resort in this case!
To summarize all the above points, it’s not common to wear shoes for yoga. It’s not practical, comfortable, or beneficial, generally making it harder to move, balance, and keep grip on the yoga mat.
It can also result in hot, sweaty feet, which is definitely not ideal for some yoga styles – such as hot yoga done in an intimate studio space.
Despite that, there are reasons you might wear shoes for yoga.
These include foot support, preventing foot injuries, and additional assistance for standing yoga poses.
And if you forget to bring your yoga mat to class, or are doing yoga outside, these can be more reasons to wear shoes!
Overall, there’s no hard rule against wearing shoes while doing yoga.
But it is important to remember that yoga is rooted in spiritual tradition, so for some yoga studios it’s simply good etiquette to remove your shoes before taking part in the class.