Why do yogis go barefoot?

Did you know that June 21 is International Yoga Day? We've got an extra simple exercise for you to celebrate and gain incredible balance. It's so easy anyone can do it. 

Did you know that June 21 is International Yoga Day? We've got an extra simple exercise for you to celebrate and gain incredible balance. It's so easy anyone can do it. 

Ready?

Sit down. Bend over. Untie your shoelaces. And take off your shoes. 

You're done! We call this exercise the Salute to the Feet, and we guarantee it will make you closer to a seasoned yogi than you might suspect. 

Keep reading to find out why yogis walk barefoot and how barefoot walking brings balance back to your life.

A man exercising in barefoot Ahinsa shoes.

Yoga in shoes? It’s possible if you choose the right ones.

Where does your balance come from? 

Where does your brain get information about how to balance? From your whole body. Up to 60% of the signals it uses come from your feet. The more information the brain has, the more effectively it can react and stabilize the body.  

A bare foot can explore the world beneath it and send that information back to your brain. It recognizes where it is and what’s happening with your body, reacting quickly and accurately. When you wear shoes with thick soles, you essentially blind your feet. You block essential signals that also help you keep your balance.

A woman walking on a nature trail in barefoot Ahinsa shoes.

Walk barefoot or choose shoes that let you “see” the ground.

Get in contact with the ground

Did you know that your feet can grab onto rocks just like hands? It’s true. You just need to give them a chance by freeing them from your shoes. 

The foot is an astonishing mechanism that can bend to fit any surface. Give it a try. Walk barefoot through your garden or in the woods. Scatter some pebbles on the ground at home, walk on them, and pick them up with your foot.

How does this affect your balance? When you can grip a surface, you’re steadier. You’re more stable. You’re like a rock climber with a good grip on an edge.

feet on a challenging surface wearing barefoot vs classical footwear

 

Your feet can grip surfaces just like hands.

More surface area = More stability

Can you balance an egg on its end? We can’t – unless you count using Columbus’ egg trick. So, why can’t you do it? Because you’re standing the egg on a small surface. The bigger the surface, the more stability you have. 

And here’s the catch. Classic shoes are narrower than your natural foot. And that includes your favorite “wide” sneakers. Just try standing barefoot next to them and putting your full weight on your foot. You’ll see that the shape and width of your foot are completely different. 

When you lace up these shoes, you’re depriving yourself of a part of your foot’s surface area and natural foundation. You lose stability. That’s why you're much more secure barefoot.

A woman in barefoot Ahinsa shoes standing on her tiptoes.

More surface area = More stability

How does this relate to yoga? It’s all about awareness

So, why then do yogis go barefoot? Yoga and barefoot walking have two things in common: Stability and body awareness.

Physiotherapist and yogi Lukáš Klimpera says: 

“From my personal point of view, the biggest benefit of yoga is that we practice slowly and consciously and teach our brain to be more aware of the body. The more conscious we are of the body, the better we can coordinate it. This is an essential principle of barefoot walking. We eliminate the risk of hard impacts on the heels and become more aware of our feet and soles, so we can step carefully and push off surfaces.”

A woman standing on barefoot Ahinsa ballet flats that give the foot room.

Your feet need plenty of space. Notice how you don’t have it in ordinary shoes?

All the years we’ve spent wearing thick shoes have taught us not to feel our feet. We aren’t aware of what our body needs, and we walk in a way that is actually harmful to our health. Yoga and barefoot walking help us take a step back, so we are more aware of how we feel, where we stand, and how to move forward.

Still not convinced? Here are seven reasons why you should try barefoot walking 

  1. The natural alignment of a free foot extends to the entire body. That's why walking barefoot can help relieve other ailments, such as back pain.
  2. Correct posture opens up your chest so you can breathe deeply.
  3. Barefoot walking stimulates your brain and improves your mood. 
  4. A healthy stride activates your pelvic floor, which many adults have problems with. 
  5. Going barefoot helps you use the full power of your foot. We recommend reading this article, especially if you’re an athlete.
  6. Barefoot walking strengthens your immunity. We wrote a post all about it: Barefoot and immunity: Taking your shoes off for health?. 
  7. Barefoot enthusiasts can even have better sex. Check out this post to learn more.

Wide soles of barefoot Ahinsa shoes

Want to experience the magic of going barefoot? Look for shoes that are roomy, lightweight, and flexible.

Tip from physiotherapist Lukáš Klimpera:

“Combine barefoot walking with the basic principles of yoga, and you’ll learn to be aware of your body. Then you’ll know what it needs, what makes it feel good, and, more importantly, what doesn’t. 
I recommend the system Yoga in daily life, which is unique from my perspective. It was brought to Europe by an Indian yoga master with a long traditional spiritual line, but developed in collaboration with Western doctors and physiotherapists to make it safe and suitable for everyday Western life.”

When barefoot walking consumes you…

You may feel like you never want to go back to wearing shoes. What now?

Wear shoes that make you feel like you’re barefoot. Roomy, lightweight, and flexible. When you wear Ahinsa shoes, you walk as healthily as you would barefoot, studies by Masaryk University confirm. 

Choose your first pair today.