Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Naked Feet

Posted by terrepruitt on June 1, 2010

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.

13 Responses to “Naked Feet”

  1. niachick said

    This is just fascinating Terre. I think this might be my favorite blog of yours so far (although I have very much enjoyed them all).

    I love how you personalized being barefoot. I’m the same…I love going barefoot. I know you don’t experience winter as we do in Wisconsin, but I’m sure you will understand it when I say that I dislike winter most of all because I have to wear shoes (and many times boots). Spring, summer and fall I’m barefoot as much as possible. The most I put on my feet are flip-flops.

    “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.” I love this Terre. It’s so true. First we ask our students to go barefoot, then we ask our students to be open and free with their movements. What an awakening for some!! Naked (feet) and unashamed.

    There are 7,000 nerve endings in each foot. There are 206 bones in the body with 25% of them being located in the feet. Isn’t that incredible? Our feet are so underrated. We pack them into tight, pointy stiletto heels (I don’t anymore, but I used to be the stiletto queen) all in the name of beauty. “Do these shoes make my feet look too big?” Yes? “Ahh, then I’ll get a size smaller”. Yes, cram those feet in too small of a shoe which then affects the leg muscles and bones which affect the hips and pelvis which affect the spine which affect the shoulders, arms and neck. It’s all connected and it all starts at The Base.

    Currently I’m working with a condition called plantar fasciatiis. It affects the fascia that attach the ball of the foot to the heel. It’s extremely uncomfortable and often times painful. Does it stop me from teaching Nia? It hasn’t yet and I absolutely without question give all the credit to Nia’s principles, specifically The Base (which you mention in your blog) and Awareness (being consciously aware of how I move, why I move the way I do and making changes as necessary).

    So YAY for going barefoot! And a bigger YAY for dancing barefoot with Nia! And YAY to you for blogging so poetically about feet!!!

    Love,

    Jill

    • Thanks. I read my friend’s blog and immediately wrote this. I have been waiting for days to post it. Her post just compelled me. I am glad you liked it. Thank you.

      Yes, it’s true, “First we ask our students to go barefoot, then we ask our students to be open and free with their movements.” That is what dawned on me while reading my friend’s post. And that is when I went, “Ah-ha!”

      Feet ARE underrated, abused, and ignored. Our treatment of our feet greatly affect our health.

      I read on FB about your plantar fasciitis. I have heard that it is extremely painful. Is that something that can get better and eventually go away? I worked with a woman who’s husband would come home from work and put on special shoes/slippers.

      Yay for barefeet! I am not always so good at having pretty feet. I wanted to take a picture of mine for this blog, but I decided to post it and maybe get to the picture today . . . . maybe.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I greatly appreciate it. XOXO

  2. judy said

    Wonderful post, Terre! When I took my first yoga class (less than a year ago), I was the only person there wearing socks. By the end of the 10-week class, I was barefoot and I remember feeling the difference, the connectedness of me to the ground, me to my base. So, as you say, Nia is a journey. From where I’m standing a journey that leads to dancing barefoot (literally and figuratively) would be an awesomely worthwhile journey to be on.

    • Thank you twice, J. Thanks for the praise and thanks for writing your post (which was brilliant) that inspired me and helped me see things differently. It was as if you adjusted the lens. I knew it, I could see it, but it wasn’t clear until you turned it just a little.

      When people wear socks in my class I am very nervous they are going to slip. I make certain they sign my waiver and I caution them. One woman wears Yoga socks . . . those aren’t slippery.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I know you have been online less. So your time here is very much appreciated!

  3. suzicate said

    Great post. I never put on shoes until I am about to walk out the door, and not always even then. I like naked feet. On another note though, I wouldn’t be caught dead naked in public-I have nightmares about that!

    • I am the same way. Once while I was in high school I forgot my shoes at home. I drove barefoot to school and would wait until I got there to put my shoes on and I had forgotten my shoes.

      Well, naked-naked, is different than “naked feet” and the emotional and/or spiritual nakedness that often comes with Nia. The nake feet is just the first step in freeing oneself.

  4. Terre,
    I loved this post. As you know I do a lot of energy work barefoot.

    I don’t like people to wear shoes in my house just from a less work for me mentality. It stemmed from someone tracking hot tar from the street all through my new house back in 1990. After that it just became a way of keeping dirt and pesticides outside where they belonged. I only wear shoes when I’m outside, but I often do outdoor yoga [especially in moss!] barefoot in the woods. I even know people who run barefoot. That one takes some getting used to I think if you start it as an adult.

    I think the feet connecting to the earth is one of the most amazing things you can do for your spiritual practice.

    Thanks for sharing. Keep shouting it from the rooftops. We need to care for our feet–keeping them stretched and limber and letting them ground us.

    Karen :0)

    • Karen,

      Thank you. I am so glad you stopped by, commented, and loved this post. I loved J’s post and your comment was amazing.

      (I know you know what you said, but I want to repeat some of it here.) You said about being barefoot in a seminar “I found for the first time in my life that I had walked into a class with perfect equipment. Toes that open and allow space between and feet that will mesh and mold to the earth and HOLD ON.”

      Oooooo!

      And about shoes you were thinking of purchasing, “I decided that if I felt more naked in these shoes than when my feet were unshod that it was a step that I needed to take toward allowing myself to be seen as who I am. A sexual creature. Head to toe. Mind/body/and now apparently feet.”

      More “ooooooo!” Awesome. I loved your comment. It was fabulous!

      I don’t really even thinking about shoes in the house so much. My hubby does, I just DON’T WEAR SHOES. You know the big reason why? I sit on my feet. And I don’t like my shoes on my clothes or my shoes on my furniture, so even if I have shoes on when I go to sit I take them off. So yes, my shoes end up all over the house. I can never find them when I am running out the door.

      I think that having your feet connect to the earth is an amazing thing. And as you said, it is an amazing thing to do for your spiritual practice. It really is a freeing act for your spirit.

      Thank you again for stopping by.

  5. bsain said

    I become more and more fascinated by Nia each time I come here. I like wearing socks and shoes. When I first started doing yoga, I would wear my socks until a friend said, “hey, take off your socks goober”. So, off they came. Here’s when I love being barefoot — at the beach, right at the edge of the ocean where the tide takes the sand out from under your feet and you feel out of control for a few seconds until you can dig your toes in and steady yourself. It’s a wonderful feeling, the sand slipping away and then being given back.
    Thanks for this post.

    • I love having friends that call me Goober. LOL!

      That is an awesome bare foot time, the beach, the sand as you described it. Ahhhhh!

      Nia fascinates me too. It fascinates me (for one reason) because I learn so much from it, yet is it no really “new”, it is the way it is “packaged” or ‘related” to me that it seems new. It could be the “body-centeredness” of it. I have heard a lot of the same things before but not from the body-centered angle . . . . huh . . . maybe that’s it.

      I am glad you are fascinated by it. Maybe one day you will be fascinated enough to try it.

      I bet some of your kids would love. Because it is all about movement and music.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I love having friends visit!

  6. [...] lovely and talented lady, Terre Pruitt, spun her own web of wonder from this post. Terre is an instructor in Nia. I don’t really [...]

  7. tobeme said

    I agree with you shoes are for outdoors. I prefer to run around the house in my socks and if it is warm sans socks. It is true that some people never go barefoot, not even to bed. The beauty of us is that we are all different.

    • Yes, there is beauty in that we are all different. Also we all have different goals. I would encourage people whether they like to wear shoes or not, to give a little attention to their feet.

      Thank you for visiting.

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