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Keep Your Socks On. Or Take Them Off.

Monday, November 21, 2011 by Marianne Elliott

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Guest post by the lovely Anna Guest-Jelley of Curvy Yoga (that’s her in the photo over there, making yoga look fun!)

Many of my beginning yoga students are unsure about what to do with their socks — or shoes. Keep them on or take them off?

I can relate. After all, it’s not often that many of us go somewhere (besides, perhaps, a friend’s house) and automatically take our shoes off (much less our socks!).  There’s something intimate about exposing our feet in this way.

Fortunately, I don’t teach anywhere with precious floors. I teach at community centers, where one of their last concerns is shoes. But still — people kind of pick up on yoga things sometimes (plus, I’m usually out of my shoes by the time I greet them), so it’s in the air (although usually not literally — thank goodness!).

Crafting Your  Practice

So now that I’ve got you on pins and needles, here’s my answer to the question: it makes no difference! Yes, having your bare feet on the mat can give you a better sense of a pose and where you are in space. But so long as your socks aren’t going to make it too slippery for you to practice (and therefore unsafe), I (lovingly) don’t care what you do.

This is what I tell my in-person students. Whatever makes them most comfortable is what I think is best. Want to wear your socks? Awesome. Want to take a 60 minute Savasana? Fantastic. Want to take a meditation break half-way through class? Nothing could make me happier.

The reason I “let” my students do these things is because this is their yoga practice. And I actually think that this ability to figure out what is right for your unique body and self is the yoga practice. Yep; I think it’s the whole kit and kaboodle. The poses can help us quiet our bodies, and sometimes even heal them, but it’s all toward developing an inner knowledge of discovering your needs — and then meeting them.

The Yogarazzi

Undertaking this process in class is excellent. But sometimes there’s a little more baggage than we bargained for in class — just when you thought you’d packed your yoga bag light, somehow comparison, judgment, and shame have hopped in at the last minute. And I totally get that; there have been far too many times in my life when I’ve asked myself halfway through class, “I could have sworn I asked thigh obsession to stay home today!”

We’ve all heard the yogarazzi (cue remix of Lady Gaga…now!) at some point — yelling at us from the sidelines: “Is that really your Triangle pose?” “What makes you think you can forward bend with that belly?” “Next time, you should probably just stay home.” These invisible peeps are more obnoxious than the real-life paprarazzi — because with the latter you can usually at least put your hand in front of the camera and tell them to go away (or, at least, that’s what I can gather from watching E! from the comfort of my own home).

Shushing the Peanut Gallery

This is why I love home practice. All those little hangers-on can certainly still get in, but I find they’re a little quieter when I’m just on my own at home — wearing and doing whatever I want. If I’m practicing along with a video, I feel free to skip ahead or just leave entire sections out. I find it a little more difficult to give myself permission to do the same when I’m in class.

With that permission, I dish myself up something entirely different: a heaping helping of kindness. Sometimes it looks like practicing for 10 minutes and then petting my dog (who always wants to hang with me when I roll out my mat) for 20. Sometimes it’s flowing through a great 60-minute practice. Sometimes it’s only getting through two poses because I keep diving deeper and deeper into each one — finding new things to explore as I turn my foot here or move my hip there.

And the whole socks thing? Not an issue. Sometimes I even start with them on and then take them off later! I live on the edge.

Do you live on that same edge? If so, join us for 30 Days of Curvy Yoga in January! Registration is open through Dec. 9. We pinky swear not to ask you about your socks.



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One Response to "Keep Your Socks On. Or Take Them Off."

  1. Just signed up – what a terrific idea!

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