One of my blogger friends (and actually I am lucky enough to know this blogger in person) posted about being barefoot. In her post she mentioned the barefoot philosophy. I had never heard of it. She said it is about “living light, being aware and present, being non-conformist, non-consumerist and, well, naked.”
She used a quote that said being naked in public is scary. When I read that my whole body got tingly. In a flash I had an epiphany. We do Nia barefoot. What is Nia? It is a workout that was designed to be done barefoot. But a lot of people don’t like to participate in exercise without shoes on. I believe that there are a lot of reasons for that and some of them might be because it is different, and a part of you is exposed, and it is like being naked (this is also part of the previously mentioned quote-but it is more in relation to blogging, whereas I am actually talking about feet).
Some people actually never go barefoot because they hate it that much. Some people have ideas about being barefoot, for example my dad, he thinks you are not dressed unless you have your shoes on. Me, I am always surprised when people come to my house and the first thing they say to me is, “Do you want me to take off my shoes?” I didn’t realize until recently that they probably say that because even if I am having a party and I am dressed up, I don’t usually have shoes on in my home. To me shoes are for going outside. They are out-of-the-house-wear. I usually have socks on to keep my feet warm, but not shoes. Shoes are constricting. But my attitude towards shoes has restricted me from being sensitive to those that might actually feel naked without shoes.
As I said, Nia was designed to be done in bare feet. The feet are part of our base. The base needs to be strong. One way to ensure a strong, stable base is to exercise it. A great way to exercise feet is to allow them to do the work of walking, running, balancing, wiggling, flexing, stretching, and generally moving without the assistance of shoes. Moving in ways that they cannot while they are confined in a shoe. Also some shoes actually compensate for feet weaknesses. All of this is not to say that people cannot do Nia in shoes. In my classes, if the facility allows shoes (some yoga studios do not allow shoes), people are encouraged to be comfortable above all so if shoes allow people to be comfortable then they are invited to keep their shoes on.
My friend’s post just reminded me that it could be a really deep seated feeling of “uncomfortableness” that might require some people to keep their shoes on. Nia is about moving the body as it was designed to be moved, that alone sometimes makes people feel uncomfortable because we are taught the exact opposite our entire lives. We are also taught, for the most part, that shoes are required to exercise. So moving in different ways and doing it without shoes, might not be easy for people new to Nia. Ah-ha! I get it now! It is not just about a floor being dirty.
Well, I will continue to mop the floor when I get to the studio early enough, but I will also think of bare feet in a larger sense. Because in Nia being barefoot is about exercising the feet, but it also is about being aware, being present, being open, and being free and some people need to work up to that. Nia is a journey that allows us to work on more than just having naked feet.