Our feet are essential for balance, grounding, forming the foundation of many postures and helping us to work into even more. With bare feet we can spread our toes and the proprioceptors in the foot can send more accurate messages to our brain regarding our balance and position in space. As the weight shifts from the inside to the outside edge of the foot so the effort required of the different toes varies.
Our feet are meant to be triangular in shape, with the toes splaying out so the foot is widest at the tips of the toes. Unfortunately wearing shoes tends to bring the toes inwards, however careful we are, changing the shape of the foot over time. Even socks can restrict the movement of the toes, particularly when they contain lycra, as so many do nowadays. When did you last let your toes out for a good wiggle?
All this means that in our yoga practice it can be beneficial to work barefoot. It helps us to see how we are using the feet in our different postures and gives our toes a break from wearing shoes and socks. These days we generally work with a sticky mat, but the benefits of this can be lost if we wear socks. Relaxing into a posture is that much easier if you are not trying desperately to prevent your feet from slipping inside your socks.
If you are wary of removing your socks for fear of getting chilly feet then treat yourself to a pair of yoga socks, shaped for individual toes and with little rubber grips on the bottom for traction on your mat or the floor. My Yoga-Mad Half Toesox have become the one piece of kit I couldn’t live without. You can get fun brightly coloured ones or more sedate black, with peep toes or enclosed toes. Why not give them a try?