What to Wear to a Yoga Conference. ~ Michelle Marchildon.


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Enlightenment is not about the pants.

{Click for more tips on what to pack for your journey… ~ Ed}

I am packing for the Yoga Journal conference at Estes Park, and once again it comes to this: I don’t know what to wear!

In my first yoga teacher training the instructor made it clear that if you are becoming a teacher to get discounts on all the clothes then you are effed up. Okay, he didn’t say that. He said you are unenlightened, which is pretty much the same thing.

He went on to say that yoga was not about the pants. So apparently, he has never seen himself from behind? Let me be perfectly clear: If I ever find a pair of yoga pants that cost $19.95, make my butt look good and hold in my muffin top, then screw Aparigraha I am buying 50 pairs.

This year my book tour and teaching schedule brought me to various parts of the country and I discovered that what you wear to practice yoga is extremely regional.

In Los Angeles, everyone looked great. To keep up with those beautiful yogis I had my hair and makeup done for a video at YogaGlo, and then promptly went upside down. What’s more, the camera was at the back of the room so it has now immortalized a view of my butt. After seeing the results of this appearance, I ask again, can anyone possibly look good in yoga pants?

In Colorado, there is an understanding, and I believe it started 2000 years ago in Mysore or Boulder, that the truly enlightened are too busy meditating to shower. When I do look good people think I am, well, stupid. Here is an excerpt of an actual review of my book:

“This book is brilliant, which you wouldn’t think it would be just by looking at Michelle.”

 Right? Apparently, you cannot be fabulous and be taken seriously at the same time. It is not allowed.

In Arizona this same understanding is held in Tucson where I frequently visit YogaOasis. One time I walked into the studio with everything matching, as in all in black, and this one dude said, “Every time I see you, you look like some kind of model.”

Um, I am not ignorant. I know that “model” is code for “moron.” But hey, as Einstein said, you could choose to live life as though everything was a miracle, or as if nothing was a miracle, and I choose to be fabulous, which is a freaking miracle at my age. BTW, I’m quoting Einstein baby. I am not a moron!

In Long Island, specifically the Hamptons, I noticed that the yogis there wear a lot of bling. I happened to notice that because instead of doing whatever the instructor asked us to do with our eyes closed, I had mine open because I was checking everyone out. Yeah, I know you are not supposed to do that. But come on!

I. Could. Not. Help. Myself. There was a lot of bling in that room. And celebrities! The only thing more abundant than bling was attitude. This is an actual excerpt of a conversation I overheard:

 Yogi with Bling: “I am a yoga teacher, and I can tell you were over-efforting.

Yogi with Better Bling:    “I am a yoga teacher too, and you were over-efforting more than me.”

This conversation proves that I am right when I say, everyone is a yoga teacher these days.

Even Buddha Wears Bling

Now back to Colorado.  One thing is for sure, I do not have to worry about packing bling for Estes Park where there are more elk per capita than yogis. But I am worried about the pants. I just want to know, can you be cute and enlightened? If not, I’m going to be hanging out with the elk. You can find me in the field outside the studio, but please, don’t take a picture unless my butt looks good. Thank you.




Editor: Kate Bartolotta


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Michelle Marchildon

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist, and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga. Her second book, Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga, is for yoga teachers who want to inspire their students. Michelle is a columnist for elephant journal and Origin Magazine and a contributor to Teachasana, My Yoga Online and Yoga Journal. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches in Denver, Co where she is busy raising two boys, two dogs and one husband. You can follow her on Facebook at Michelle Marchildon, The Yogi Muse. You can find her blog and website at www.YogiMuse.com. And you can take her classes on www.yogadownload.com.


58 Responses to “What to Wear to a Yoga Conference. ~ Michelle Marchildon.”

  1. lonesomelotusyoga says:

    Well, I'm going to the Kripalu teacher conference next week, and I thought I was all set. I'm taking the same two pair of pants I always wear, and I'm counting on them giving us a free tee shirt. Now I'm starting to feel a little anxiety. I have no bling whatsoever. I have a little piece of carved bone I wear on a leather shoelace around my neck, but I'm guessing that wouldn't count, right? It's too late to order anything from Prana, and I wouldn't know what to get anyway. I've got green pants and brown pants. What else is there even for guys? Yikes, this is going to be messed up. I have some really old black pants, but my wife hates them and I think she's hidden them somewhere. I haven't see them for a while. Besides, my butt doesn't look good no matter what! I never catch women checking me out! There's just not much there. Oh, man. I'm going to call and see if I can still cancel and get my money back. Thanks, Michelle! You saved my dumb ass!

  2. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Ha ha. I think you'll be just fine. But if I look fabulous, don't hate me, okay?

  3. Mish says:

    Hey Michele, that was great. As a fellow Long Islander and yoga teacher I know that long Island Yogis are very fashionable.I should know, I am the creator of MishogaWear Yoga Couture. Can and check me out sista mitraH

  4. Sarah says:

    I'm not so sure you should be so concerned. it's all about the practice, right? you practice in the clothes that make YOU feel good. I always show up in the same old stuff (and alas, a lot of my "old stuff" gets that stinky yoga smell, and yet i STILL wear it because it's comfortable). if i feel like being fabulous, i just throw on an overshirt to wear before practice begins. And I don't know what those northern yogis are doing with their bling – Bling while on the mat, for me, would just become an obstacle keeping me from breath, focus, and movement… which I would never be okay with.

  5. Sara says:

    I always operate with the mantra "wear what you dig." Who cares what your butt looks like, or how much bling you're rockin'? It's all about the energy you bring with you, and how you act toward the other people you come into contact with. Pretty much all of my yoga attire comes from Target, unless I get lucky and score something sweet at St. Vinnie's, because I just cannot justify dropping more than $20 on a pair of pants or a top that's just gonna get all skankified from being worn so often. So there it is. Wear what you dig. Just do it.

  6. ? says:

    This is the type of article that sends me away from elephant journal for a long time. Please don’t call yourself a yogi.

  7. greateacher says:

    very interesting

  8. Sean says:

    Absolutely terrible. I suppose its only my fault for actually clicking on the article, but I admit my curiosity got the best of me. Thank you for an utterly mindless article, I will be sure to never read any of your “fabulous” articles again.

    • Michelle Marchildon says:

      There is a way to go directly to the comments where you can state your opinion without being informed at all. That way you won't have to click on the article. You can thank me later.

  9. Jeff says:

    Nice work Michelle. One of the things I've enjoyed about different studios/shalas where I've practiced is the variety of people, which is often reflected in how they dress as they pursue their practice. Its obvious that some folks bring a fashion sense onto the mat, some bring their holier-than-thou, can't believe you even think about what people wear attitude (to the mat AND the comments) and most are there for their practice, whatever its focus, intensity, or history. All part of that rich tapestry of life and yoga. And don't worry – your butt looks fine.

  10. Erica says:

    Yeah, you know, I notice that your articles have a consistent theme of your insecurity about your body. Although I applaud your honesty about it, I am of the opinion that the yoga world needs more examples from its leaders of embracing what you have and shifting the focus to the things that matter. I agree that yoga conferences are flooded with an abundance of classically "hot bods" in fancy yoga gear, but it would be more relevant and interesting to me to hear about how someone overcomes the pressure to conform. Articles such as this one lack inspiration and only feed into the dogmatic materialism and superficiality that you are loathing in your condemnation. Why not challenge it by loving and accpeting your curves, your butt, your muffin top and sharing THAT with us? I've never seen you in person, but from what I can tell, you have a beautiful 50+ year old body. Women in their 50s just arent' going to look like women in their 20s and 30s. Not without artificial help. Wear it as a badge of honor! Own it!

  11. papillon says:

    you're so funny. thanks for representing the honest majority. it's hard to find practical pants that aren't too sexy, or too distracting. and anything on your butt is distracting. everyone else can have panty lines, just not the instructor. the sweaty crotch thing is not so fun either.

  12. greateacher says:

    I dont get the ibe at the CO area. I feel it is funnier without this insult.

  13. Devin says:

    What a waste of an article and the time it took to read this. Not only is this woman a judgmental witch but its obvious she has insecurity issues which are the last things I’d ever want in a yoga teacher. She has a chip on her shoulder and I’ve had it with this woman. Grow up, write something meaningful, and go do some yoga because clearly you’re not doing yoga off the mat. Unbelievable.

    • Miz James says:

      Wow. Nasty. /She's/ judgmental? You sound like one of those born-again types telling other christians they're not doing christianity right. And god forbid your yoga teacher should admit to having any insecurities and be an actual person. Quelle horreur!

      It's a puff piece. It's supposed to be lighthearted and funny. If you don't think it's funny, you don't think it's funny. I'm not sure how this leads you to draw conclusions about whether or not the author is "doing yoga off the mat".

  14. Devin says:

    … And I agree, this author and the fact that elephant publishes her crap articles have what lead me away from this site. Please don’t call yourself a yogi Michelle, and do yourself and the world a favor and get a new job.

  15. Ilikeyoga says:

    This article had an obvious spin of humor. Those that took this too seriously, aside from the commentary on how superficial and naturally curious humans (yogis and non-yogis alike) truly are, missed the point. Come down off the pious mountain-top and be real. I LOL’d – thanks M!

  16. livetstrae says:

    I think this is a very funny and honest article and I enjoyed it very much. Thank you for being real M 🙂

  17. sam says:

    I never know what to wear anywhere!

  18. roz says:

    I read this article because I was shocked at the title. I get that this is supposed to be humorous, but as an instructor, you should know better than to openly feed into the superficial attitudes that already plague our culture. I had hoped that you would wrap this up with some sort of lesson about how truly meaningless it is to compare yourself to others and judge your looks so harshly, but you totally dropped the ball. How very sad and hypocritical it is to even notice or think of such things at all, let alone write an entire article on it. 🙁

  19. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Dear Roz,
    I have re-read the title, "What to wear to a yoga conference," and you are probably right. It is shocking. Furthermore, it is degrading to women, insulting to men and denigrates all of mankind. I am disgusted by this obscene use imagery and will no longer be reading Elephant Journal. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    • lonesomelotusyoga says:

      You have dropped many balls, Michelle. Your snarky, self-deprecating, bemused take on pop yoga silliness should find no place in civilized density! You may well say obscene and disgusted! Yes you may! And you call yourself a yogi.

  20. Mary T says:

    Wow. In yoga we can never judge how “yoga” someone is, as each individual comes to enlightenment in their own time and in their own way. I truly wish all comments on all articles would focus less on judging the writers journey and more on the community supporting every personality on here, even the ones we could superficially deem shallow. It makes me sad, and I’m generally a very happy person. And to say someone is not yoga because they look at anothers pants-yoga is about acknowledging our flaws, accepting them, then letting them go. Maybe the vitriol in the comments will impede that process. Ahimsa-in all things, even comments, for me personally.

    P.S. I am a magpie in spirit and I am drawn to a little bling. I still feel pretty good about my yoga practice. 🙂

    • Miz James says:

      Here, here Mary! It makes me sad that so many "yoga people" are so humorless and judgmental. Why does everything have to be turned into a fricken lesson? Why can't someone throw out something honest and light without getting flamed for not being "yogic" enough? It's called FUN people. Instead of lecturing people to get on the mat, maybe you should get off your soapbox and go get drunk and go dancing or eat a gluten-free fair trade tofu sandwich with extra sprouts, or whatever it is you used to do for fun before you forgot how to have any.

      P.S. I can't believe I am defending someone I've never met in a stupid online forum. I guess it is because I am one of those funny, self-deprecating types too, and it's upsetting to see someone torn down so viciously for what (to me) is clearly a little well-meaning light humor.

  21. Wow! I have to say I find the comments both disheartening and kind of telling at the same time. Lots of "yogis" telling Michelle off and that she has no place here? My take is: let's admit it. There are a lot of people who seem to be wrapped up in the spiritual materialism of yoga and use it as a lifestyle accessory instead of part of a spiritual or even wellness path. If that's not you, cool! Good for you. But I love that Michelle is exposing this issue, and is pretty damn funny doing it too. If it touched a nerve, maybe you should take a closer look at what that says about what's going on for you here. I find when I'm offended, it often has much more to do with me and where I need to let go or open up, than what I am finding offensive.

    • Kim says:

      Right on Kate! It blows my mind that this article can be read as anything other than humor. Parody, actually. Satire. Irony. Sarcasm. It's a take on what I have always called 'MTV Yoga'. And "serious yogis", before you get triggered – I'm kidding!!!!! Sometimes, I think the mat is actually a blindfold; folks can use it as a way to NOT see themselves. Dogma is dogma, Peeps, even if you agree with it. For a practice about facing one's reality, and letting go, there is OFTEN a lot of competitive jabbing in the Elephant comments. I'm sure the triggered will think I just judged them. I'm not saying your jabbing is wrong. Do what you will. Have your journey. We only live over and over. (tongue in cheek, for the serious readers). I'm just noticing. I am NOT right. And, I'm not mad at you for missing the humor. You could choose not to be mad at Michelle for having some.

    • I couldn't agree more, Kate. Get over yourselves, haters. I hate to tell you, but ALL yoga teachers are insecure, in some way. NONE of us are on a higher path than you, and none of you, just because you act holier-than-thou with the idea that opinionated blogs should be objective and sacrosanct, are on a higher path than the rest of us. We are all hypocrites. We are all morons sometimes. All of us trip up, say the wrong thing, or do something stupid. Much like the insulting and derisive posts here, which is a combination of all 3. What's worse? Michelle's article, or the lack of Ahimsa associated with the nasty responses. The elitism and cruelty associated with these responses is more frightening than anything I have ever read by Michelle. And if you are yoga teachers spewing this nastiness, I hope I never end up in your class.

  22. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Thank you Kate. Actually, I just want to be clear: It doesn't matter what you wear for enlightenment. However, if you care this much about what I'm wearing, you might have some more work to do.

    • Diane says:

      I want to lend you my support as well. As much as the practice of yoga is about letting go of one's insecurities, losing the need to judge and loving yourself and others for who they are, you have received some very judgmental and unloving comments. You were clear that this was your experience, your challenge and recognized (correctly, in my opinion) that others probably deal with the same thing. I hope that those who chose to infuse this conversation with such vehemence and negativity will meditate on why your personal post caused them to react the way they did and perhaps find a piece of themselves that could use a little extra love and attention and that this experience will help bring them closer to enlightenment.

  23. Rob says:

    I feel sad that there is no trace of wisdom or humility in the writing. A genuinely wise person can write satire and make you think, make you want to do better. This writing doesn’t have that effect (and the author is obviously a professional writer so I assume that the effect she gets is the one she went for).
    But perhaps I’m reading too much into it, and perhaps I don’t understand American humour (or Yoga).
    Probably both. I’m sure it’s relatively harmless, I just don’t see what it has to do with Yoga.

  24. Marge Liebler says:

    Go Michelle, the Yogi Muse!

  25. tahneefournier says:

    I loved this article because we need some sense of humor and a reality check in our yoga world. With so many yoga 'gurus' falling by the wayside, we need people like Michelle who write to challenge our perspective about yoga and offer us a good laugh. Michelle's offerings are the ONLY reason I read elephant journal and I always feel better when I do. Well done, Michelle I love your work!

  26. Way longer and better thought out, and fun, article than my first response which was "Clothes, silly!"

    I always find the clothing "vapors" some people indulge in bemusing. Between the strident folks tut-tutting on just the right "brand" or look and the strident folks tut-tutting about those folks. I'll just wear my "I'm Not With Them" t-shirt.

    I remember being thrilled to find men's yoga clothes that actually fit me in just the right way so that they are tight enough for my teacher to tell what my muscles, etc. are doing without being so tight that I look that I got lost on my way to a latex fetish fair. Then seeing people become concerned about the brand. Oy….

    Hey I didn't care what I or others wore (nor what people think about it) when I was a teen and I'm not about to start now. 😉

  27. Nicole Kennedy says:

    I ready your stuff knowing that it is going to be humorous and self depracating…Hold onto your sense of humor, girl. Dont let the yoga nazis get you down….see now I have probably offended someone….ha ha

    • Michelle Marchildon says:

      I am hanging on tight, thank you. I didn't realize that to practice yoga meant you may not, ever, laugh again. But I am getting an education!

  28. Michelle Marchildon says:

    If you believe that yogis have the right to free speech, that you are free to wear anything you want, that just because you have enlightenment doesn't mean you are better than anyone else, then support me by clicking "like" on the Yogi Muse facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/michelle.marchildon#!/pag
    Otherwise, the Elephant Journal will only be able to post stories about rainbows and unicorns, which I guess everyone agrees is yogic.

  29. Courtney says:

    What a serious bunch we all are. If I can laugh I can breathe. If I can laugh I can let go a little. This made me laugh, (at myself as well) so thank you.

  30. Liz Belile says:

    If loving Michelle Marchildon's irreverent, satirical, ironic commentary is wrong, I don't want to be right. Also, I'm marketing my new line of yoga t-shirts that say "I'm the Serenest!" Who wants one?

  31. Guest says:

    Jesus Christ. Michelle, your article was hilarious. Haters, get a life.

    • greateacher says:

      None of us are haters. I dislike her undercutting comment about Colorado yoga practitioners. She could as easily have said some thing about all their shirts having the OM symbol entwined with mountains.. might be typical or regional.

      None of us hat eher. We hate, if that is correct, her denigrating shallow aspect which she ascribes to many or all yoga practitioners.

  32. jenwerlinyoga says:

    haha. Funny writing, Michelle. Seriously, people…lighten up. It's fun to make a joke and enjoy life a little. There are some hidden truths in her satire. Yeah, its trivial, "unenlightened" thoughts, but if we were all perfect, we wouldn't be human.

  33. lucyyogini says:

    Michelle, thanks for the chuckle. I love that you poke into the uncomfortable places and do it with such wit and humor.

  34. […] me, they will let us know.) I have been hounded by them lately. They have been very vocal that what I wear to practice isn’t yogic, that getting angry isn’t yogic, that writing about yoga scandals isn’t yogic, and that making […]

  35. […] Are you someone who looks down on girls who wear makeup to class? […]

  36. […] Materialism. Waylon thinks his readership is 75 percent anti-materialistic, so stop writing about what to wear to a yoga conference. Really? I think you might be projecting, super Buddhist man. After all, you live in America, […]

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