If you have ever been to a yoga class, you have probably removed your shoes at the door before entering the classroom. There are a few reasons this is a tradition in our yoga practice, the first and most practical being, it is sanitary. Yoga is done barefoot, by leaving your shoes at the door you are leaving whatever you have brought in on your shoes. We can pick up a variety of parasites and bacteria through the soles of our feet, and by leaving your shoes at the door; we reduce the risk of picking up unwanted “hitchhikers” into our bodies.
Leaving your shoes at the door is also a symbol of leaving your ego at the door. Stepping out of your shoes is leaving emotional baggage at the door, leaving your fear at the door, leaving your to do list at the door, and leaving any of those things that distract you from bring your authentic self at the door. As we move through our yoga practice there are many things that can hold us back, sometimes it is our comparison to our very flexible neighbor on the mat beside us, or maybe remembering how it easy it was to move our bodies 20 years ago, and sometimes it’s thinking of all the things we have going on in our lives.
Entering the yoga classroom and leaving our shoes at the door lightens our physical, mental and emotional load. As we check our ego, fear and all those other things that we allow to get in our way, we allow our bodies and minds a moment to relax. We can look at stepping out of our shoes and onto our yoga mats as a vacation; a vacation from our minds, a moment to slow down, and a moment for self care.
As you step out of your shoes at your next yoga class or onto your mat for your personal practice, remember you are not just stepping out of your shoes, you are stepping out of so much more! Experience the freedom of lightening your load and receive the many gifts that your yoga practice brings to your life.