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Why We Take ‘Em Off for Yoga

Yoga is traditionally practiced in bare feet to help us feel stability and connect directly with the ground or mat under our feet. But why else do we remove our shoes before entering a yoga room and beginning our practice?

On a basic level, shoes track in dirt, making the floor unclean. By removing your shoes prior to entering the yoga room, it helps to provide a clean environment in which to practice.

The first of the five Niyamas, the moral virtues of yoga that we yogis are called to practice, is saucha {purity or cleanliness}. External cleanliness refers to both the physical body and environment. Studies have shown that shoes can actually lead to transmitting disease and we want to remain both clean and healthy.

In some cultures and traditions, it’s appalling and disrespectful if you walk indoors with your shoes on. The custom of leaving your shoes at the door signifies respect for the ancient tradition of the East.

Removing shoes upon entering a studio or before stepping onto your yoga mat becomes a ritual. Oftentimes at a studio, removing your shoes is the last thing you do before entering the yoga room. This ritual helps to get you prepared to practice and indicates a shift in perspective.

Are there other reasons we remove our shoes and practice yoga barefoot? Please reply with a comment and tell me what I’ve missed. I’d love to hear from you!

Namasté,
Heather

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