Is doing yoga in regular socks okay? Are the yoga toe socks better, the same, or worse than doing yoga barefoot?
Just a little background: I am going to soon begin a yoga class at my local gym, but I am a bit embarrassed of my feet.
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If you can find a pair of yoga toe socks that fit, those can work just fine. Several people use them in my gym and are in some of the more advanced poses.
They're not optimal; solid contact with the ground and having total control over your feet would be the best. It's also actually helpful to be able to look at your barefoot, and "see" where the weight is more so than feel it. You'll actually see your foot moving around, muscles firing as they keep you in whatever position. Socks make that a bit impossible.
But in the beginning, and especially if it's the difference between you going and not going, by all means wear those socks and love them. Not going will really hinder your yoga progress, so the differences socks is going to make is near zero.
First of all, socks are quite slippery, so you'd encounter difficulties when poses like downward dog, for instance. Secondly, with bare feet you will be able to better connect with the ground, both physically and mentally - which is essential for yoga practice.
Overall, when doing yoga, you should try to accept every part of your body the way it is. If the main reason why you don't want to remove your socks is embarassment, then you should really try to overcome that feeling.
I think there are different aspects to this hygiene, warmth, and training.
Hygiene: Socks will help keep your feet "cleaner" than going around barefoot. As a comfort thing as well some are paranoid about walking on the floor where other sweaty feet or even shoes have walked on.
Warmth is self explanatory as a comfort thing. Depending on the floor type and if the room is cold then yes, socks might make sense.
Training another commenter noted it helps you see the finer muscle movements of your feet.
The textured socks do provide grip so you can hold positions. However, I am of the belief that ultimately you will lose a portion of the training. When holding a pose, part of it is training your stability using the various muscles to hold yourself together. By wearing shoes or textured socks you might lose a bit of that development, but to what extent and significance in the overall scheme of things I'm not sure.
In terms of self consciousness. Don't worry much. It's just like any gym eventually people are more focused on their own stuff to care what you look like to others. Those who spend an inordinate amount of time elsewhere staring at superficial stuff instead of their poses aren't really worth their opinions anyways.