Chances are, unless your profession is surfing or teaching yoga, you spend the majority of your day in shoes. While shoes are desired and supremely helpful to have for a variety of reasons they don’t have a place in yoga.
Working with bare feet provides a rare opportunity to stretch and strengthen the feet which comes in handy as you age. Take a look at your granny’s feet. You’ll notice right away if she does yoga or not. Most importantly, though, healthy alignment is key to a healthy pose. When you practice barefoot, you are able to be more aware of your feet and a better judge of your alignment in the yoga pose. In yoga, everything begins from the foundation (your feet) and moves upward. You find your stability, balance and contact with the floor (all essential for standing poses) with bare feet.
There’s also this thing called “yogi toe grip” that is called for in many yoga classes and you simply can’t grab your toes through shoes and socks. So, lose the shoes. If you have a condition that prevents you from going barefoot or causes you pain when your feet are bare, you can use flexible soled shoes and still get in a good practice.
If you feel self conscious about your feet just think of it as a yoga vacation for your feet. Let them be free! Yoga is all about accepting your body for what it can do, starting from the ground up.