I have a lot to get caught up on with this blog, including my experience last weekend at Kripalu in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, but today, I want to talk about something that affects everyone who practices yoga (unless, of course, you practice yoga in the nude)...
Oh, yes. Once you get into yoga and start getting Yoga Journal and Vegetarian Times and checking out all those great yoga conferences, you can't help but notice what everybody's WEARING.
Cool pants with little slits up the side near the ankles. Bright, graphic t-shirts featuring Ganesha and the Om symbol, with little sparkly things sewn onto them. Headbands, jewelry, socks...even, ugh, a yoga thong?!
Now, let's be realistic for a moment. I'm a working mom on a budget. I would love to be able to blow $90 on a single pair of cool yoga pants that have a little lotus symbol embroidered on the back just above my buttcrack, but it's not gonna happen. I have bills to pay.
When I was at Kripalu last weekend, I of course made a trip to the gift shop. The newly-expanded gift shop, according to some repeat visitors. As expected, they had a HUGE selection of yoga clothing. T-shirts, tank tops, workout gear, headbands, skirts, dresses, hoodies. (Although, thankfully, I did not see any of the aforementioned thongs.)
After I had finished browsing the book selection (which was really tough - I'm a book junkie, and I could have taken home one copy of each yoga practice book they had on the shelf), I took a cruise through the clothing. A particularly cool pair of yoga capris caught my eye - they were made from some lovely-feeling organic fabric, they were the right length (because being 5' 3" means that most "regular" length pants come down well below my ankles and under my heels), and they had that lovely little symbol embroidered on the back above the buttcrack.
The price: $78.
For a pair of capris.
At first I thought, hey, I'm on a little vacation here. Why shouldn't I splurge on one nice pair of yoga pants for myself?
But my inner skinflint just started adding up my monthly bills, expenses, and the fact that I'm going to be coming up on two big trips in the next eight weeks.
That's when it hit me: I really don't need those $78 yoga capris, and neither do you.
The way I figure it, yoga is about what's going on inside, and not so much on what it looks like on the outside. Just like when you're in an asana, it doesn't matter if you can't do a perfect Warrior II or if you wobble out of Tree every time you pick up your opposite leg.
And anyway, yoga is supposed to be about building individuality, discovering about what's so special about being uniquely YOU, isn't it?
That made it easier to walk away from the $53 tank tops and those $78 yoga pants. I realized that one of the things I cherish about myself is my ability to pull together a cool, funky, and eclectic style from finds at the local thrift shop and resale shop. That's who I am. Why should I be someone different when I step onto my yoga mat?
Answer: I shouldn't.
So, go ahead and drool over the tie-dyed yoga pants with lace cutouts, or the burnout t-shirts with pictures of the Buddha. And if you have the money and want to buy one for yourself, go for it. But nobody ever reached enlightenment because they bought a t-shirt with a lotus flower on it. (However, if those $78 yoga capris would have helped me with my forward bends, I would have bought them in a heartbeat.)
I was much happier spending that $100 on three new yoga books and a restorative yoga CD recommended by a fellow workshop attendee. No matter how much weight I gain (or lose), I can use those books and that CD. They give me concrete practices to add to my sessions on the mat, and tools that I can use to keep my stress levels low and my anxiety at bay. I doubt that a new pair of yoga pants would have given me so much.
For now, I'm going to stick to my $20 athletic pants and $6 tank tops from Target. And I'll keep my eyes open for cool clothes at the thrift shop. Because that's who I am, and I want to be able to remain authentic, both on and off my mat.