The Dilemma of the Yogini in Cowgirl Boots. ~ Sandi Burden

Via elephant journal
on Nov 7, 2012
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Photo: Jenn L

Cowgirl boots. Who doesn’t love ‘em?

Soft, buttery leather, every color under the rainbow, cut and embroidered and dyed and stained and embellished with all sorts of wonderful cowgirl things, those clickety-clackety heels that make us feel oh-so-fancy as we strut on by.

That’s right. Everyone loves cowgirl boots.

Cowgirl boots are my dilemma.

I’m a yoga teacher. I’m vegetarian. I’ve been working my way to vegan for quite some time too, but I’m not there yet. I occasionally fall into a gelato or two.

I practice ahimsa: the avoidance of violence and the act of non-harming. I don’t swat flies. I drive my son crazy by not squashing mosquitoes, either.

Vegetarian is easy. The idea of consuming an animal is just not for me. And I’m not the sort to point out why you shouldn’t eat one of our furry, feathered or scaly friends. That’s your leather baggage, not mine.

Leather furniture? Horror! I prefer to sit on my animals while they are alive, thank you.

Leather interior in your fancy-pants new car? Horror part deux! No, thank you. I would prefer all the fancy gadgets and cloth seats, please. Not an option? Well, crap. I’ll have the fabric seats, the crappy sound system and no moonroof then. Sigh.

A leather jacket? Uh, no. The last person to look good in a leather jacket was Michael Jackson. Ditto on the leather pants.

Fancy-pants leather handbag? Naw, I’m not a label girl, so this one is easy, too.

But…cowgirl boots.

I live in Oklahoma. I love everything that even smacks of cowgirl. I collect vintage photos of cowgirls. I adore old magazine ads featuring a cowgirl or two. I love a snap shirt and a fringed skirt and I love how cowgirl boots make me feel.

So, I tell the hubs what Santa might want to bring me for Christmas this year. Yup. Cowgirl boots.

So, we go shopping in Cowtown America, right here in big ol’ Oklahoma City. I’m jumping up and down and clapping my hands at all the colors and styles and heels and—oh my! Hand tooling! Red roses! Blue birds! Snip toes! Cowgirl heaven!

And then the cute salesgirl wearing the ridiculously gorgeous pair of boots says it: “Calfskin, ostrich, goat, sharkskin, lizard, snake, elk, crocodile and…bison.”

Ugh. Those words just two-stepped me right into downtown Dilemma City.

Photo: Sandi Burden

I can think about ahimsa and parade around on my high horse in my own little mind about how I don’t do this or that, but…how am I really going to feel wearing those animals on my feet?

And what effect do all those dead animals that we sit on and wear and use to carry our oh-so-important stuff have on our psyche in ways we can’t begin to comprehend?

How do I, the vegetarian, tryin’-to-be-vegan, ahimsa-practicin’ yoga teacher justify shopping for, buying and wearing cowgirl boots?

I guess, like most folks, I’m pretty good at justifying just about anything my heart really desires. Gelato, anyone?

I think about the words of my teacher that it is part of our dharma to reduce the amount of suffering we cause in the world.

Hey! I reduce suffering! I reduce it a bunch, ok? Remember all those mosquitoes I didn’t kill all summer? I should have some boots! Some really fancy-pants boots! Hmmm…maybe the red, handmade ones, with the little flowers all over them…or the ones with the fancy stitching. Maybe…or…


Right now, as I peruse all the lusciousness of the cowgirl boots available on the big ol’ World Wide Web, I am feeling the pull towards the fancy-pants boots.

But, won’t I feel crushed every time I look at them? Will I think about that little goat or mighty elk, or my beloved bison every time I slide my feet into those soft, buttery leather shrouds?

I am a yoga teacher. I practice ahimsa. I adore cowgirl boots.


Dilemma City, indeed.


Sandi Burden is a lil’ ol’ yoga teacher in big ol’ Oklahoma City. When she’s not teaching Vinyasa or Gentle style classes or performing Thai Yoga Massage, she can be found playing with her beloved dogs, embarrassing her children or trying to fulfill her lifelong dream of kissing a bison. She can be found on the big ol’ World Wide Web at or on Facebook at



Editor: Jayleigh Lewis

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8 Responses to “The Dilemma of the Yogini in Cowgirl Boots. ~ Sandi Burden”

  1. Charles says:

    Some Swami's wear deer skin moccasins. Just pray for the soul of the animal(s) every time you see those boots and every time you put them on, take them off, or even think about them. Treasure those boots. Wear them in until they're faded beat to hell and then keep wearing them. Feel like getting another pair? Don't. Keep wearing those same ol' boots because at least then you'll know you honored the soul of the animal(s) who probably died a dismally painful death to make them, not to mention the potentially sick or injured workers at the tannery. (unless you can find someone who makes them as part of their harmonious lifestyle, then by all means do everything above and feel even more blessed that the option exists)

  2. Tippy says:

    Those are some beautiful boots. I like the article and what Charles wrote.

  3. Jon says:
    I agree with you completly. As a vegan leather is completly off limits for me I wouldn’t even think of purchasing it in any fashion. So I buy my belts from moo shoes they carry the best non leather accesories I have seen and they have lots of shoes and boots. Hopefully this helps.

  4. Casey says:

    Oh my gosh, I feel the exact same way! I am disgusted to the point of fury when I see someone wearing a fur coat, but then I feel totally hypocritical because I wear leather shoes. I don't really buy anything else that is leather, but still… Let me know when you figure out the answer to this conundrum, because I could use the advice from my trusted Guru! xoxo

  5. clare says:

    I have a beautiful pair of boots from Novacas( no cows) . I too list after Frye boots, and have considered them in thrisft shops too. But then people.moght see mu boots and wamt them too..and now I am back to killong cows. However in my novacas people.comment all the time, and want to.feel how soft.they are and tada….a chance an alternative to cowskin. OH! And look up the big buddha wyatt boot! you will love them!

  6. ethon says:

    wow really, nice collections of vegan shoes,Vegetarian shoes are eco-friendly shoes for wearing…

  7. Ethon says:

    wow really, There’s an amazing shoe sale going on… and it’s eco friendly!!!!!!!

  8. ehowtobuy says:

    Cowboy boots have become an exciting expression of individuality and taste.