Yoga shoes look like sneakers, but they have thin soles that allow for flexibility, and the tops of the shoes are lightweight to allow air to circulate more freely. The shoes are available in different colors and styles. Major manufacturers such as Reebok, Adidas, and Puma all make specialty shoes for yoga practice.
Yoga Shoe Considerations
Before you make the decision to don a pair of shoes during yoga, keep these considerations in mind.
Why Wear Shoes
While not strictly necessary, yoga shoes are an option that some people like to wear when practicing yoga. There are several reasons you may want to as well.
- Comfort: You may just feel uncomfortable without shoes and socks on.
- Fear of germs or bacteria: If you share or rent a yoga mat and worry about swapping bacteria, you may want to wear yoga shoes.
- Safety: If you enjoy practicing yoga outside or anywhere else where going barefoot isn't a wise option, shoes may keep you from stepping on sharp stones or getting ant bites.
- Traction: If you're one of those lucky people who has smooth feet, you may want a pair of shoes to help with traction and keep you from slipping during certain poses.
Why Not to Wear Shoes
While some people couldn't imagine popping off their shoes and socks for any form of exercise, there are some valid reasons to let your feet breathe when you're doing yoga.
- Comfort: Some people prefer to practice yoga barefoot; it just "feels" better for them.
- Connection: Shoes can keep people from being "centered" and connected to the Earth.
- Difficulties getting into poses: Wearing shoes may make it harder to get in or stay in some poses.
- Reflexology: Following the belief that the feet relate to other parts of the body, it is considered far more beneficial to allow your feet to have a workout of their own while you're doing yoga.
Shopping for Yoga Footwear
Most major sporting good stores and athletic shoe stores will have yoga shoes for sale. To get an idea of styles and prices, you can check online.
- Zappos carries yoga thongs as well as several different brands of yoga shoes, ranging in price from $40 to $100.
- Yoga Sandals advertises better body alignment and balance with their sandals designed for yoga and pilates.
- ToeSox has a selectin of yoga sandals and socks from various manufacturers.
In addition to the stores listed above, check out Blake Brody's in-studio footwear, which are nice enough to wear outside the studio, too. The shoes are sold on her website.
Some yoga studios will suggest that you don't wear yoga shoes, while others may require them for safety reasons, so make sure to check with the studio you frequent before purchasing shoes.
If you don't like the thought of wearing shoes, but you're also not comfortable going barefoot, you have two other options.
Foot thongs are mini-shoes. They only cover the ball of the foot, with sandal-like straps on top to keep them in place. They offer better traction without having to keep your entire foot covered.
Yoga socks are gloves for your feet. Like gloves have fingers, yoga socks have toes. They're often called toe socks, with non-slip rubber dots to help with traction. Many people prefer these to yoga shoes because they are less confining while still offering more stability than bare feet.
Flex Your Feet
No matter where or how you like to flex your body and your feet, it is important to feel comfortable and be safe. Double-check with your studio to find out their policy on shoes and then pick up a pair that helps you align your body, from head to toe.