I was recently explaining our policy at LFW to wear sticky grippy socks during classes to a yogi friend. I know some people, especially in the yoga world meet the wearing of socks with resistance. As a practicing physiotherapist who also teaches yoga and Pilates and who has been studying the yogic scriptures, I thought I might share my own reflections on this subject.
For those of you who have done exercise classes in sports centres, how often have you lain down on a mat only to see dark marks or smell the odour of sweat? I’m particularly glad that this isn’t the case for our Life Fit Wellness studio. We wipe our mats with antibacterial detergent after every use and wear socks to stop cross contamination and the inevitable buildup of dirt. Even more importantly, it’s great to know we are keeping the studio clean for the babies and new mums in our ante-natal and post-natal Pilates classes.
Proprioception is the perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body. This is especially important during balance. We often teach this during Pilates and yoga when referring to our feet. One of the ways to stimulate this sense is to increase tactile sensation or touch. This is what a sock is doing to your foot. This full contact helps us become more aware and in turn develop our capacity to move each part of our feet. Given the kinetic chain connection of our feet to the rest of the body, this is important. Poor mobility in the feet for example can lead to back, knee or hip pain (and vice-versa!). I find working on the feet really helpful with toe socks where each toe is individually surrounded by fabric.
Patangali’s yoga sutras are the key ancient texts which explain and describe the meaning behind yoga. In this he describes ahiṁsā translated as non-violence. In this context we can relate to wearing the socks to avoid transferring any nasties such as verrucae to other fellow class participants. Śauca means cleanliness, in an internal and outer sense. The parallel to this example is fairly obvious as already explained in terms of hygiene. Finally my favorite, tapaḥ which is any situation where one has to endure an unfavorable situation. You will understand this when you try a wide leg posture like Warrior 2 in the toe socks. It’s a chance to toughen up your character to put up with some discomfort for the greater good!
We stock a range of grippy socks for sale, both the individual toe and the more conventional sock in a variety of sizes. The brands we’ve chosen to stock are the ones we’ve found to be the most hard wearing. However we can point you in the direction of other retailers and other brands. Meanwhile if you happen to forget your socks there is always a pair to loan.
To sum up, although I would not wear socks for my personal practice each time, I am very happy to adorn them in shared studio space for the above reasons. The final one being the difference in climate between the mother-land of yoga, India and bonny wee Scotland!