It’s common practice for people to take off their shoes outside the Yoga studio before they walk in. (In actual fact, many Yoga studio owners see it as a sign of disrespect if class members walk across the studio in their shoes.) But have you ever wondered why? This article will shed some light on the reason yoga done barefoot.
Practising Yoga without shoes on gives you more stability
A great deal of Yoga is about testing your balance. This is especially true of standing poses such as Warrior I or Virabhadrasana I as it is called in Sanskrit. This is because your feet are the points that anchor you to the floor and so provide you with stability. Thus, if you are wearing socks, you increase the possibility of you slipping.
Here’s how to perform Warrior I:
- Stand up tall on your mat. Make sure that your arms are by your sides.
- Exhales and step your feet about 1m apart.
- Raise your arms perpendicular to the floor and parallel to each other. Stretch your hands out. Pull your shoulders back and down.
- Turn your left foot in, 45 degrees to the right. Your right foot must be out at 90 degrees to the right. Align your right heel with your left heel.
- Exhale and rotate your torso to the right. Square your hips as much as possible with the front edge of your mat. Lengthen your coccyx towards the floor. Arch your upper torso back slightly.
- With your left heel firmly anchored to the floor, exhale and bend your right knee in line with your right ankle so that your shin is perpendicular to the floor.
- Reach strongly through your arms. Lift your ribcage away from your pelvis.
- Ground down through your back foot. Press your toes firmly into the ground.
- Keep your head in a neutral position. Gaze forward or tilt your head back to look at your thumbs.
For a demonstration of how to perform Warrior I, watch this video:
It works your feet muscles
The foot contains over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons. In other forms of exercise, such as weight-training or cardiovascular exercise, your feet are cooped up in training shoes. This means that they don’t get a good workout.
Pain in your feet, which – among others – plagues sufferers of arthritis, can be managed with Yoga. (If you’re interested, we’ve written another article on the causes of age-related joint pain. Read it here.) This is because there are countless Yoga poses which assist in strengthening the feet. One is Badda Parsvakonasana or Bound Extended Side Angle Pose:
- Begin in the same position as the above-described pose.
- Inhale deeply and jump your feet apart. Raise your arms sideways in line with your shoulders. Ensure that your palms are facing downwards.
- Turn your left foot in slightly to the right. Make sure that your right foot is out to the right at 90 degrees. Alight your right heel with your left heel.
- Tighten your thigh muscles and turn your right thigh outwards so that the centre of your kneecap is in line with the centre of your right ankle. Roll your left hip slight forward toward the right but rotate your upper torso back to the left.
- Exhale and bend your right knee so that your shin is perpendicular to the floor. Try to get your right thigh parallel to the floor. Draw your shoulders back and down.
- Place your hands near the outside of your right ankle. Strengthen your left leg and press the outer heel firmly to the floor.
- Bend your top arm and place it behind your back with your hand resting on the top of your bent thigh.
- Inhale and extend your lower arm under your bent thigh. Take hold of your upper arm. Grab hold of your fingers or wrist.
- Exhale and rotate your body to the side. Push your higher hip and tailbone back.
- Tighten your leg muscles. Pull your kneecaps in and breathe deeply while holding the pose for between 30 seconds and one minute. Keep your head in a neutral position or turn it to the left.
- Inhale, release the arms and come back to centre. Return your arms to shoulder height.
- Inhale, release your arms and come back to centre. Return your arms to shoulder height.
- Repeat on the other side.
If you want to share your passion for Yoga with others, the best way to do this is by signing up for Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Yoga Certification. With our accredited Yoga Course under your belt, you’ll be a Yoga Instructor in hot demand. Sign up today!