Barefoot and Yoga

Dr. Avi Nov 

Why it is so important for us to walk barefoot, and why it is an essential practice that goes together with yoga   

I am sure that after you read this article, you will start walking barefoot, either without shoes at all, or with special shoes that are ultra-thin and resemble barefoot walking. In addition, you may notice that walking barefoot enhances your yoga practice. So, what are the benefits of walking barefoot and why does it help us in our yoga practice? 

1- Limiting injuries and healing: walking barefoot or with shoes resemble barefoot walking such as VivoBarefoot, gives us a natural feedback from the ground. When we are close to the ground and feel it, we step lighter. 

This is so important due to the fact that if you feel the ground you learn to walk lighter and strike with the balls of your feet rather than heels, considerably decreasing impact on muscles and joints. This in turn will limit our injuries.  In fact, if you have already injuries from bad habits (using "normal" shoes), then walking barefoot will heal you. 

 2- The balancing effect: When walking barefoot, the nerves in our feet may communicate better with the brain, helping the entire balance mechanism of the body. When we walk barefoot, and evidently feel the ground better, it gives our brains more information to prevent falls and better handle challenges coming our way. This fact forces us to do the work of balancing. This originates directly from engaging our core muscles. So, if you want to strengthen your core muscles, start walking barefoot!  

3 - Getting a better posture: Preforming Yoga barefoot help in strengthening the feet and improve the effectiveness of our movement. The day to day life with shoes restrict the proper movement of feet, preventing them from stretching, flexing, and expanding. Wearing shoes all the day results in weaker feet. Walking barefoot and preforming yoga postures barefoot enables your feet and core to become stronger, with the result of getting taller in a way and stand lighter. When being barefoot, you naturally start to stand and walk more like preforming a dance, elongating spine and the entire body. This in turn will enable you to optimize your yoga postures. 

4Quieting the mind: Walking barefoot has an incredible effect of calming our mind. When we are barefoot and touch the earth we get connected with the earth and become one with it, and this brings a lot of peace to our mind. Why is that happening? The answer is clear: when we are barefoot, we focus on the land and our steps, rather than our issues in our head, and this helps us empty the mind and put us at peace. In my experience, walking barefoot is a practice of mindfulness. 

5- Being Grounded: There are already many studies that establish the “grounding” or “earthing” benefits of being barefoot. A very interesting research by Karol and Pawel Sokal in Poland and Clint Ober in the United States, tested the grounding benefits of being barefoot. Essentially, the research showed that direct contact with the Earth’s surface can lead to pain relief, speedy wound healing, inflammation reduction, improved sleep, and many other benefits. The theory behind this research is that grounding allows a transfer of electrons from the ground into the body. How does this help us? It is claimed that inflammation is caused by free radicals and that free radicals are neutralized by electrons from any source. In a nutshell, being barefoot is an antioxidant. 

To conclude, being barefoot the entire day and also preforming yoga barefoot helps us to strengthen every muscle of our feet and most importantly it helps us recover the function of our foot we have lost since we were little babies. This will have a great impact on our entire body and mind. We therefore recommend in our yoga retreats to be barefoot not only in our yoga lessons but all day! If you are not ready for being barefoot the whole day, we recommend using Vibram Fivefingers

If you want to experience with us the walking barefoot practice you may like to join one of our yoga retreats. See here the list of upcoming retreats.

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