Monday, August 11, 2014
Love Your Curves, Part 1: Clothes Do Not Make the Yogi
If you've ever taken a yoga class in a studio, maybe one of the first things that you've noticed is, of course, what everyone else is wearing. The instructor. Your fellow yoginis and yogis. And if you're in a hot yoga class, well, maybe what's more important is what everyone isn't wearing. ('Cause, you know, the only way I'm comfortable in 104 degrees is if I'm completely naked.)
Americans in general are obsessed with STUFF. Lots of stuff. The more the better, right? There are hundreds of companies all looking to sell you clothes that are "designed" for yoga. You know the names: Hard Tail. Prana. Lululemon. Cozy Orange. Gaiam.
They want you to believe that in order to do yoga, you really NEED to buy their clothes.
And to some degree, these kinds of clothes are really nice to wear during asana practice: most of them fit reasonably well, they're comfortable, they're pretty and visually appealing, and they allow you to move.
But if you saw what yoga looks like in India, you might think differently about plunking down a hundred bucks for a single pair of spiffy new yoga pants.
In India, yoga is practiced in whatever clothing you happen to be wearing, as long as it's comfortable and you can move around in it.
So, here's what I think about yoga clothes: wear them. Or not.
As long as you can move without restrictions, as long as you can breathe deeply throughout your asana practice, it really doesn't matter one bit what you're wearing.
I'm of the personal opinion that we shouldn't be worrying too much about what we look like when we go to yoga class. As long as your clothes fit comfortably, wear them. As long as you're not going to have any kind of "wardrobe malfunction", you're good.
If you don't have $165 to spend on a pair of yoga pants, who cares? Wear your sweats to yoga class. Wear your favoritest, most comfortable, ratty-looking gym shorts.
My favorite yoga teacher says this quite often: It doesn't matter what a pose looks like; it matters what it feels like.
Same goes for your clothes.
Sure, it's fun to wear a nice outfit to yoga now and then. And I'm not saying that you should completely neglect personal hygiene, just because you're on a spiritual journey. (Heck, even Patanjali talked about saucha, which is translated to cleanliness of thought, mind, and body.)
But unless you're doing "gym" yoga or something that isn't a spiritual practice (because in my head, if it's not a spiritual practice, it ain't yoga), one of the things that we should be cultivating off the mat is asteya, the practice of non-coveting, or even not entering into debt. If you can't afford to spend $65 on a top designed JUST for yoga, it's not a big deal. There are plenty of beautiful, comfortable, and most importantly, affordable options for you at places like your local thrift shop or resale shop. Bonus: most of these thrift shops and resale shops benefit a small business owner or charity. (My favorite thrift shop uses the money from sales of merchandise to fund our local food pantry, and my favorite resale shop is owned by a friend in the next town over - so my dollars are supporting things I believe in!)
When we practice yoga in a studio, we should feel welcome, no matter what we're wearing. It's the responsibility of the studio owners and teachers to create a safe, welcoming environment for yogis of all shapes and sizes, no matter what they wear to practice yoga.
Now that we have THAT out of the way, look later this week for how to take your yoga off the mat and love your body.