Yoga has quickly risen to the top of athletic popularity, with many individuals, young and old, participating in this ancient discipline. With many sectors ranging from physical, mental, and spiritual focuses, yoga is an excellent way to work out both the body and the mind.
Like any other sport or exercise, yoga requires a certain level of dedication, discipline, practice, and – of course – equipment.
Though the discipline is relatively minimal in terms of tools and gear, there are a few things you may want to purchase before you get started on your journey. For example, while many people like to practice yoga barefoot, others prefer to have something covering their feet.
And that’s what we’re here to talk about today: the best yoga shoes.
Whether you’re new to the sport or just want to try out shoes for a change, we can help you understand their benefits and what features you should look for before buying.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Skechers Meditation-Knotted Studio Flip Flops
- Premium Product: Vibram FiveFingers Furoshiki
- Best Value: Barerun Barefoot Sports Shoes
Otherwise, if you have time to stick around, we’d like to show you what makes a great yoga shoe as well as several other products you can choose from.
What is Yoga?
It’s highly unlikely that there are many people in this world who haven’t, at the very least, heard of yoga at one time or another. But how many of us can actually describe precisely what it is? Is it stretching? Is it meditating? Is it a strength-building exercise?
The answer is mostly yes – it’s all of those.
Yoga is best defined as a mind and body practice with a long history of various techniques, including physical postures, breathing, and meditation or relaxation. It promotes self-control involving the mind and body as well as drives enhanced well-being for oneself.
Because yoga has been around for such a long time, it has developed many different styles. It can mainly be split into six branches:
- Hatha Yoga: the physical and mental branch
- Raja Yoga: meditation-driven
- Karma Yoga: focus on eliminating negativity and selfishness
- Bhakti Yoga: the path of devotion, positive emotions, acceptance
- Jnana Yoga: wisdom, scholar, and intellect branch
- Tantra Yoga: ritual and ceremony
Perhaps the most common branch of yoga is the Hatha branch, which is the one that will teach physical postures and poses.
While many of these branches have some sort of personal or spiritual focal point, you can also practice yoga purely for the physical benefits, as its poses and stretches are excellent physical exercises.
Yoga is considered a low-impact practice, making it a safe option for many different ages and levels of physical strength. Many people, young and old, practice yoga, and there is minimal risk of injury.
However, like with any physical exercise or discipline, it’s essential to start at the beginner level and work your way up steadily. Basic poses can be easy to master, but more advanced poses require a lot of skill and practice.
A beginners’ class is a great way to get started. The low-intensity positions and poses allow you and your instructor to assess your flexibility, strength, and endurance and can determine what your next step will be or how much guidance you still need.
A Brief History
Although it seems like the yoga fad is relatively recent, the discipline has been around for more than 5,000 years. It began way back when Northern India, as it can be found mentioned in ancient and sacred texts.
Of course, over the years, this physical and spiritual practice was refined, changed, and improved by various peoples where it eventually came to recognize the teaching of the sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, action, and wisdom.
The practice of yoga grew and developed through various stages, from pre-classical to classical and post-classical. It now lands today in what we call the modern period, which started between the late 1800s and the early 1900s.
As yoga masters from around the world began traveling west, more and more people caught on to this practice and learned more about it. One of the earliest yoga studios to open in the West was in Hollywood in 1947, and from there, the popularity only continued to grow and thrive.
Benefits of Yoga
Many people practice yoga mainly for the physical and mental benefits one can receive from it. In fact, the primary purpose of yoga is to develop and build strength, awareness, and mind-body harmony.
Every yoga class will vary from session to session and studio to studio, but most courses will include things like breathing exercises, meditation, and various positions and postures meant to stretch and strengthen muscle groups.
Some of the physical benefits you can achieve from practicing yoga include the following:
- Increased flexibility
- Improve muscle strength and tone
- Improve respiration
- Lower blood pressure
- Minimize insomnia
- Weight loss
- Balanced metabolism
- Cardio and circulatory health
- Less risk of injury
Of course, as we mentioned, there are also mental benefits from practicing yoga as well. The most significant psychological factor that yoga helps people deal with is stress. Stress in and of itself can play a huge role in how your body functions, as it can lead to things like muscle pain, a weakened immune system, and trouble sleeping.
Because yoga implements things like controlled breathing and meditation, it has been known to lessen the effects of stress, promoting clarity of the mind and general calmness.
Yoga can also help to increase your bodily awareness, focus the center of your attention, and improve your concentration.
Buying the Right Yoga Shoe
As with any shoe or other pieces of activity-specific equipment, there are always certain features that you should keep an eye out for if you want to ensure you’re buying the best of the best. Yoga shoes are no different from things like running shoes or cleats in this regard.
Continue reading to learn the most important details your yoga shoes should include.
This one is easy; flexibility plays a major role in the entire discipline of yoga, so of course, your shoes should do the same. When practicing yoga, you need to have full range of movement, and that can only happen if your clothing and gear move with you.
From your head to your toes, you need to be able to stretch, bend, and pose.
Some shoes are stiff for practical reasons, providing optimal support and impenetrable protection for your feet. However, yoga shoes should be the opposite. The materials used should be flexible and easy to move in, allowing you to experience yoga the same as if you weren’t wearing shoes at all.
Traction is super significant during a yoga session. In fact, you have probably noticed that people practice yoga either barefoot or with shoes on – and rarely in socks. A sufficient grip lets you practice poses safely and with confidence, eliminating the fear that you’ll slip and injure yourself.
Traction can come in many different shapes and sizes, but it typically involves some kind of rubber soles or treading to keep you in place and on your feet.
Anytime you buy a new pair of shoes, there’s a good chance that comfort is high on your list of priorities.. While the same goes for a pair of yoga shoes, the kind of support you experience from them might differ slightly from any other type of footwear.
A yoga shoe feels best when it acts as a second skin to your foot. Most people prefer to practice barefoot, but factors like risk of injury, contact with germs and bacteria, and outdoor practice can be causes for concern.
Because of these conditions, a great yoga shoe will help its wearer get the most of their yoga experience. It shouldn’t be distracting in a space that’s meant to be relaxing and focusing, and it’s even better if it feels like you’re almost wearing nothing at all on your feet.
When it comes to comfort, you can also take into consideration details like materials, construction, cushioning, and support. Many people look for that barefoot feel, but others with more extreme health needs may appreciate a little extra arch support.
In terms of materials, make sure they are soft and don’t cause irritation or blisters or poke at you with jutting seams.
Though yoga may not be as quick-paced and high-action as sports like soccer, football, basketball, etc., that doesn’t mean that it’s easy, and you should never count out the possibility of sweat.
Many advanced poses and routines require large amounts of muscle strength and balance, both of which deliver a great workout and can leave you feeling sore in the morning.
Just like a pair of running shoes should have excellent breathability for your feet, so should your yoga shoes. Quality options will give you features like moisture-wicking materials and water-resistant layers. Others have excellent ventilation that keeps your feet fresh and promotes airflow throughout your sessions.
Socks and Shoes
It’s worth it to mention briefly that not only are there yoga shoes that you can look into, but there are also yoga socks. Yoga socks fit, look, and feel like regular socks, but they deliver grip and traction for your best performance.
We’ll have a couple of yoga sock options on our list as well, so you can decide if you’re better suited for a pair of enhanced socks or yoga shoes.
Why Not Go Barefoot?
While seasoned yogis may find it odd to wear anything on their feet during a yoga session, other people have very legitimate concerns about stripping their shoes and socks just to enter the same poses.
For starters, some people are just self-conscious about their feet. This is entirely normal; let’s be real, not many of us look down at our feet on a regular basis and think, “wow, pretty!” So, if you don’t like the look of your feet, it’s perfectly fine if you want to wear something practical to cover those toes up.
Another genuine reason to want to wear shoes during yoga is cleanliness. Many yoga classes take place in public gyms and studios, and if you don’t bring your own mat, you’re using one that hundreds of other members have used before you.
While we can assume the instructor cleans the mats after every session, we can’t be 100% sure for every session we attend. It’s only common sense to recognize that there very well may be germs and bacteria on a publicly-used mat.
In fact, experts say that yoga mats are perfect incubators for infections. People sweat on them, they are rarely cleaned thoroughly, and they come in direct contact with all types of skin. All that to say that, yes, cleanliness is a legitimate reason to consider wearing yoga shoes.
Another reason for an individual to consider wearing yoga shoes is for outdoor practice. If you’re practicing in your own, well-kept yard with flawless, soft grass and a protective fence, then you might be okay.
But many yogis like to practice individually in parks, on beaches, and other quiet and scenic outdoor locations. We can never be certain what’s hiding in the grass, be it broken glass, rocks, mud, or leftovers from a wandering dog.
Wearing yoga shoes for outdoor yoga sessions can serve to protect your feet from the elements.
Finally, perhaps you love yoga and consider yourself an expert for all of your long years of practicing and improving, but your arches just are not what they used to be. If you find that your bare feet alone can’t support you anymore, then you might need a yoga shoe that delivers a little extra support and stability.
Read Also: Best Martial Arts Shoes
Best Yoga Shoes
Now that we know a little bit more about the discipline of yoga and the details it takes to make a quality yoga shoe, we can start looking at all of the top-notch products on the market today.
1. Ahnu Women’s Yoga Flex
The Ahnu Women’s Yoga Flex shoes are definitely built for high-intensity and high-impact, but they also deliver everything you could need for a quality yoga session. These shoes are highly flexible, allowing you to move exactly how you need to with minimal restrictions.
At the same time, they’ll get you through your most intense class with a breathable air mesh upper that promotes airflow and keeps your feet cool and dry.
While the front of these shoes is plenty flexible right where you need it, the heel offers a dense area of support coupled with dual-density memory foam in the footbed. These elements deliver prime support for anyone who needs it, along with excellent comfort.
The bottom of the shoes provides ultra-gripping rubber traction with a unique “spider” design that keeps them gripping yet lightweight so you can stay on your feet and stay confident in your pose.
- “Spider Rubber” design is highly gripping for reliable traction
- Shortened lace system and forefoot design offers excellent flexibility
- Memory foam footbed is very comfortable and supportive
- The shoe uses a breathable mesh upper for airflow
- Lightweight shoe ensures natural movement
- Sizes may run small
- A bit bulkier than a “second skin” fit
2. Vibram FiveFingers V-Soul
If you’re into the barefoot feel that some shoes can deliver, then you should definitely try the Vibram FiveFingers V-Soul shoes. The five-toe, footlike design truly feels like a second skin, letting you experience a barefoot feel without actual contact with the ground.
The polyester fabric upper is highly flexible, yet superbly durable for long-term use and high levels of activity. 3mm Vibram technology not only adds to the flexibility factor, but it offers reliable traction even in wet and slippery conditions using a serrated blade tread pattern.
The shoes feature a secure and reliable fit, using a hook and loop closure that lets you adjust to suit your feet size and shape.
These unique shoes may have an exotic look to them, but they are incredibly lightweight and feel almost like you’re wearing nothing, giving you the full yoga experience. And when they get dirty from outdoor use, simply throw them in the washing machine and let them air dry.
- Minimalist design is exceptionally lightweight for a barefoot feel
- Cool and breathable design
- Adjustable closure for the perfect fit
- Unique Vibram outsole pattern is highly gripping and reliable
- Flexible for free range of movement
- Silly-looking appearance
- Limited size options for women
- Velcro delivers a cheap-looking appearance
3. Barerun Barefoot Sports Shoes
Who knew a quality, high-performance shoe could be so affordable? Barerun Barefoot Sports Shoes are such a great choice for anyone who enjoys everything about yoga except for the barefoot part.
For a meager and affordable price, you can purchase functional shoes that have the flexibility of a sock, acting as a second skin for your feet. The free range of movement in this product is unreal, allowing you to flex and stretch as needed.
The subtle stretch and mesh of the upper allow for free airflow, letting your feet breath even in a fitted design. With a slip-on design, it’s easy to pull these shoes on and off when you’re in a rush – and the smooth neck prevents chafing and irritation.
A quality rubber sole not only prevents you from slipping but is thick enough to protect you from foreign objects that might cause injury. This is perfect for anyone practicing yoga outdoors.
If you’re active in a yoga class, there’s a chance you’re also involved in other activities. The Barerun Barefoot shoes are versatile tools that are also great for the beach, swimming, kayaking, fishing, and outdoor yard work.
Style isn’t so much as a small issue when it comes to these shoes, because customers can choose from a whopping 44 different color and design options. There’s a fit for everyone when it comes to these shoes!
- The extremely flexible and lightweight shoe is perfect for a second-skin feel
- Breathable mesh upper allows excellent airflow
- Solid rubber sole prevents slips and protects feet
- Numerous color and design options to express style
- Multifaceted footwear can be used for various other activities
- Highly affordable price
- Little to no arch support
- Sizes too narrow for wide feet
- Materials are not heavy duty and may fray with heavy use
4. Great Soles Non Skid Socks
Many of us can probably agree that there aren’t many things in this world better than a brand-new pair of socks. However, if you’re searching for the best footwear to rock during your next yoga session, then these socks might just beat out all the rest.
The best thing about Great Soles Non Skid Socks is in the name. They use non-slip technology across the bottom to give you extra grip, stability, and overall control during your most intense and challenging yoga movement. Various silicon dots cover the bases.
Each sock is hand-dipped using eco-friendly dyes, delivering fabulous style without harming the world around you. The low-cut design is trendy and athlete-approved, while the “never-slip” heel strip works inside the sock to keep it in place on your foot.
With 12 fun and unique ombre-style designs to choose from, you can feel confident in both the performance and look of these highly functional socks.
- The mid-foot band provides extra arch support
- Several silicon dots are great for anti-slip traction
- The Y-shaped heel and heel strip keep your socks in place
- Eco-friendly design is harmless to you and the environment
- Few sizing options
- Colors appear different in-person versus online pictures
5. L-Run Barefoot Skin Shoes
Some people want nothing more than a no-nonsense shoe that’s easy to pull on and slide off when the time comes. The L-Run Barefoot Skin Shoes features an easy on and off design that saves you valuable time and gives you one less thing to think about.
Made from a blend of polyester and rubber materials, these shoes were designed to be lightweight and very comfortable. Their snug fit takes the shape of your feet while the soft lining cradles them for extra comfort.
With a breathable mesh upper, your feet will feel fresh and ventilated during your activities. This feeling of a natural fit is unmatched, and the protective toe guard gives you the confidence to enjoy the freedom the shoes provide.
A rubber outsole ensures anti-slip technology so you can stay on your feet. The entire shoe is extremely flexible and lets you move as you need to. With a wide variety of color and design options, you can match these shoes to your favorite yoga gear with ease.
- The slip-on design is comfortable to wear and use
- The antiwear rubber outsole is non-slip and flexible
- Breathable upper allows airflow and ventilation
- Many color and design options suit every style
- Extremely lightweight and dry quickly
- Fitting and sizing is a bit confusing
- Not recommended for outdoor wear
6. FitKicks Women’s Solid Shoes
When it comes to doing yoga, there is usually a minimalist approach to equipment. The practice itself requires little to no distraction for focus, so it’s only appropriate that a yoga shoe offers the same.
FitKicks Solid Shoes are super simple and perfect for anyone practicing this discipline. The snug, form-fitting design acts as a second skin and makes you feel as though you’re almost barefoot without actually exposing your feet.
The construction of the upper provides excellent ventilation for smooth and consistent breathability throughout your exercises. The elastic strap is simple and easy to use for a no-nonsense fit.
While the shoes themselves do not offer much in the way of protection, as they are made for low-impact use, they do support an added toe guard to provide a little extra cushion where you need it most.
The rubber sole delivers superb traction across a variety of floor types, yet still remains thin and highly flexible for your most complicated poses. And because the materials are so minimalist, these shoes are very lightweight and easy to move in.
- Flexible design with elastic strap gives a tremendous second-skin fit
- Thin rubber sole has superb traction yet remains flexible
- Breathable materials to keep your feet cool
- Toe guard offers excellent support and protection, great for bunions
- Very lightweight and comfortable
- Sizes run small
- Toe guard can cause some chafing
- Not suitable for outdoor use
7. Sanuk Yoga Duet Sandal
Yoga shoes come in all shapes and forms, giving everyone plenty of options to suit their preferences. While many people like the idea of a sock or a sneaker, others might enjoy this Sanuk model, which is a sandal.
The Yoga Duet Sandal boasts a modest design that ers on the side of comfort and simplicity. Just two straps serve to hold the sandal against your feet. Made from polyester and cotton, they are designed to keep your feet comfortable and secure.
The base of the shoe is actually made from real yoga mat material, which is excellent for anyone who would prefer to go barefoot to a session but for other reasons cannot. The rubber sponge outsole gives you the feeling of being on the mat without having to sacrifice protection.
Because these sandals use very minimal design and materials, they are incredibly lightweight. Their open construction allows for excellent airflow, so your feet don’t feel trapped in a tight shoe.
- Yoga mat bottoms are extremely comfortable
- Easy on and off
- Great airflow and breathability
- Lightweight design is easy to walk in
- Fabric straps are not adjustable and will have varying fits
- Not supportive or tight enough for long walks or intensive training
8. Skechers Meditation-Knotted Studio Flip Flops
If you feel that sandals are the right direction for you to head in, then we can’t emphasize enough how much we recommend the Skechers Meditation-Knotted Flip Flops. Not only do these shoes have everything you need for a quality yoga session, but they come highly recommended by studios and professionals everywhere.
First things first, let’s talk comfort. These Skechers sandals are made with a yoga foam padding for a comfortable and cushioned footbed. Even though you aren’t standing barefoot on your mat, you sure will feel like you are.
Second, these shoes rank with the best in terms of traction. The outsole is well-designed, using a rubber surface to promote a healthy grip. In the same breath, we can also say that the shoes are highly flexible for a full range of movement.
Of course, due to the open design of a sandal, these babies provide ultimate ventilation for free airflow over your feet during your sessions.
To top it all off, these sandals are also extremely cute and stylish with an easy on and off design and a comfortable fit.
- Highly breathable with lots of airflow
- Very flexible and easy to move it
- Excellent traction for confidence and safety
- Very comfortable design and easy to put on and take off
- Cute and stylish design
- Not durable for high-intensity use
- Not supportive for those who need extra arch support
9. NBERA 2econdskin
Another shoutout to that second-skin feel, NBERA literally uses the concept in their name. For anyone who loves the idea of an almost-nothing feel on their feet but hates the thought of going barefoot on a public yoga mat, NBERA 2econdskin might be the choice for you.
The fitted design of this shoe is like that of a sock. It uses a specially engineered silicon foam treatment that lets the shoe keep its shape, while the thin and stretchy fabric makes for the perfect fit.
Within the sock is a cushioned insole for added comfort. However, wearers can easily remove this insert for a thinner feel, or they can replace it with a more supportive insert. Either way, these shoes are so lightweight that you can add or take away, and you’ll still feel like you’re walking barefoot.
While this shoe has been around for a little while, it did receive an upgrade that’s proven to make it more durable and better suited for rigorous activities. In fact, the neoprene outsole delivers the ultimate grip for zero slipping and the utmost safety. It even holds up on wet surfaces.
The 2econdskin is available in a brief array of colors from neon to black, so pick your style and get to that yoga class.
- High levels of traction deliver safety and confidence
- Highly flexible design for natural movements
- The upgraded design has the shoes running more durable
- Very lightweight and comfortable with a removable insole
- Shoes tend to run a size too small
- Basic protection not great for most outdoor activities
10. Vibram FiveFingers Furoshiki
Vibram has already startled our list with a unique and interesting-looking design, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see yet another eye-catching yet functional yoga shoe from this brand.
The Vibram Furoshiki shoes are definitely a sight to behold. Their unique look is nothing close to typical, but their performance is undoubtedly top-notch. Modeled after a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth, these shoes are designed to wrap around your foot for a snug and comfortable fit.
Using trusty Vibram rubber, these shoes fold on easily, covering your foot with high quality and stretchy fabric, which allows for freedom of movement and delivers high flexibility. Once wrapped properly, you simply use the hook and loop closure to seal the deal.
The lightweight Vibram rubber makes wearing easy, but it also offers high levels of traction through its various treading. Meanwhile, a lightly cushioned footbed adds a little more comfort.
Though the appearance may seem a bit odd, the performance is nothing to laugh at. Try these for yourself for a skin-like feel and a lightweight experience.
- Very comfortable fit and design
- Excellent minimalist option for a lightweight feel
- Vibram rubber is highly gripping with treads for traction
- Very flexible and easy to fold up for travel
- Easy to wrap and adjust fitting
- Shoes offer minimal support
11. Toesox Bellarina Yoga Socks
We mentioned some yoga-type socks previously, but when talking about the Toesox Bellarina Yoga Socks, we have entered a whole new ballgame. These innovative socks take design and functionality to another level.
Unlike other socks, these Toesox feature a five-toe design to quite literally make your socks fit like a glove. This strategy actually improves movement by preventing all kinds of bunching and twisting in the fabric. It also promotes a more natural movement for a second-skin fit.
The bottoms of these socks house non-slip grip soles that prevent accidents and falls. They also make it easier to stand firm in your poses while handling quick movements.
The organic cotton design is highly comfortable and very soft, and the low-ankle shape supports the Achilles and demonstrates a low-profile look. Not only are the materials extremely breathable for continuously cool feet, but the five-toe construction actually helps to improve airflow as well.
And of course, being that these are just like socks, your feet are free to feel lightweight as if you were wearing nothing at all. With a wide range of colors from basic black to funky patterns and neon hues, there’s little reason not to try this sock.
- The lightweight, form-fitting design is perfect for free movement
- Highly gripping non-slip technology is safe and reliable
- Added heel tab and arch bank deliver top-notch support and protection
- Five-toe design promotes airflow and improvements movement
- Sock-like design lacks firm cushioning
The above list shows you some of the best possible footwear products you can use when practicing the challenging yet rewarding art of yoga. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned veteran, you can use this list and this guide to find your next quality pair of yoga shoes.
While all of the shoes are this list come highly recommended by us, we had to pick a few of our favorites to showcase to you today.
When it comes to overall performance and quality, we had to go with the Skechers Meditation-Knotted Studio Flip Flops. This may seem like a surprising choice given all of the shoes that included full coverage, but we just can’t get over how great these shoes really are.
In terms of comfort, these sandals are awesome – simply put. The cushioned footbed is made from yoga foam, which gives you the ultimate yoga feel. Because they feature an open design, airflow isn’t even a question. Your feet stay dry, fresh, and comfortable.
A cute design, high traction, and excellent flexibility make these shoes one of our favorites on the list.
As far as premium product goes, we chose a pair of shoes that might cost a little more but deliver excellent results. The Vibram FiveFingers Furoshiki shoes offer a unique style with high levels of functionality.
Essentially, to wear these shoes, you simply slide your foot in and wrap the fabric around the top, closing them on either side with the easy-to-use hook and loop closure. The Vibram rubber makes up a significant component of the construction, making the shoe flexible, comfortable, and highly gripping.
The shoe is very minimal in design, so it may not offer the arch support that everyone needs. But if you’re a fan of the second-skin fit, you’re sure to be a fan of these innovative shoes.
And finally, for anyone who may be on a bit of a budget, we love the Barerun Barefoot Sports Shoes for the best value. These shoes are extremely affordable – you might just buy two. They are very minimal shoes, which means it’ll feel like next to nothing when you slide them on your feet.
The construction uses a mesh, breathable upper that has excellent ventilation, while the bottom features a rubber sole for both anti-slip and impact protection. Finally, we love that you can purchase these shoes in over 40 different colors and design options. That says there’s a little bit of something for everyone.
Whatever your reason is for preferring shoes during your yoga class over going barefoot, we’ve got you covered. Try out one of these awesome products and see how your next session goes.