What Does the Sheer Yoga Pant Scandal Say about Us?

Are see-through yoga pants worthy of front-page headlines?

Bonus: Dressing for Yoga in the Post-Lululemon Transparent Pants Era.

Apparently the media thinks so.

Yesterday, my hubby texted me the story. Secretly, I knew he hoped I would return my $100 dollar pair of yoga pants (Sorry Babe, I bought a different style than the one being recalled) or that this headline would point out the evil of my ways. Why would anyone, especially a yogi, spend so much money on a yard or so of stretchy material just to cover their butt in a flattering way?

I get it. Every time I purchase this expensive brand of clothing, I feel a faint tug at my conscience.  What am I doing in this dressing room, trying on over-priced spandex?  I tell myself they wash well and keep the saggy extra-fluffy parts of my body in check. But then there is the question of slippery business practices and being part of an industry that perpetuates yoga clothing as a status symbol. More gnawing at my insides as I pull the neon colored Luon top over my head. Oh these thumb-holes are perfect.

But more interesting to me than my own need for inquiry into my personal buying practices and yoga ethics, is the media’s fascination with the yoga pants recall?

Is it the image of a roomful of half naked women showing their panty lines (yes, the specific style was made for women only) while in downward dog a guaranteed way to drive up ratings?

Or perhaps that we were duped to spend a lot of money on an inferior product in the name of beauty, fitness or vanity? (I’m not sure this is big news.)

Or maybe, like my husband suspects about me, (he is a yogi as well) there is something missing in our understanding of yoga if we are compelled to spend billions of dollars on yoga pants and support a company that uses enlightenment slogans to get us to buy their wares.

Maybe the naughty peekaboo is not the transparency of pants which reveal our lady business, but why we feel we the need to purchase these pants, that cost sometimes over $100, in the first place. Do we feel the need to cover up a collective low self-worth on the inside with something visibly expensive and attractive which screams out to the world, “I do yoga!”

Does the right brand of clothing make us a more authentic yogi?  I know most of us would say absolutely not. So then I ask you and I ask myself, what is wrong with spending less money on a cheaper quality yoga pant? Or, if we are going to spend the big bucks, lets put our money into smaller companies with fair business practices.

Next time I sit down on my folded blanket to begin my yoga practice, I will remind myself that I am about to embark on yoga.  Yoga means to unite. I will ask myself what is it I want to join with? What do I want to connect with so badly I am willing to fight and change for. Fight my demons and tame the part of me that believes she is never good enough.

Forgetting what yoga is all about is the real scandal.

How can I let myself be naked to my truth, regardless of the quality and coverage of my yoga pants?

As yogis, let’s become one with love, acceptance, strength, courage, clarity and the ability to do the right thing.

Even when we’re feeling insecure, and everyone—regardless of yoga ability—experiences doubt, fear and insecurity from time to time. Yoga is about the transformation and liberation of our inner-self. Ancient yogis in caves didn’t care about six-pack abs or buns of steel. They cared about getting free from the ways they imprisoned their own happiness. The need to bolster our yoga status in pricey pants at the expense of our paychecks and mindful business practices is not freedom.

But like many yogis trying to live mindfully in a world that glorifies outer beauty, youth, status, power, and money, sometimes we forget. This is why it is so important to return to your yoga practice over and over again. Practicing yoga reminds you that what you got covering your ass doesn’t matter at all. The yoga mat could care less.


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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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YogaLove Mar 25, 2013 9:55am

It goes to show you that the public now gets the hypocrites that lululemon seems to now reveal to the world accidentally through their see-through pants. This is just the tip of the iceberg where the company is faltering and where it is headed. I would like to give back to those smaller companies that authentically stand behind their values, and lululemon is definitely not one of them.

Joy Mar 24, 2013 5:48am

I love your article… I have actually recently changed yoga studios, one of the reasons was because I was the ONLY person to not be wearing Lululemon. I felt so out of place. In the four months I was there, no one spoke to me, no one attempted to befriend me, and the room overflowed with unbearable pretension. It is wonderful to be able to buy and wear a type of clothing which guarantees you comfort and wonderful quality, but I believe that what the company stands for, and the perpetuation of yoga elitism, goes against everything that Yoga aims to teach and bring into the world.
Yoga is not about what brand you wear, how you look, or if your leggings matches your water bottle and/or mat. It is about union, breath, life, health, wellbeing, prayer, focus, practice, dedication, love, joy, happiness… People from the South-East of Asia practice in traditional clothes, ill fitted clothing, or any cloth they can wrap around them. They don't have lycra, some don't have mats. They pose on stone floors or the sandy ground outside, they practice on the Earth. But their dedication does not waver or fluctuate. I believe that these people are the true Ambassadors of Yoga

BBolder Mar 22, 2013 3:54pm

"Honey, how can I run fast, if I don't look fast?" – FloJo, when asked about her 3" long fingernails, just before she blew away the field at the 1988 Olympics, becoming the fastest woman in the world (a record that still stands).

Wear what represents you. Whatever it is, own it. (I wear simple black running shorts).

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Anne Falkowski

Anne Falkowski has been teaching and practicing yoga for over 15 years. Currently she is obsessed with Forrest Yoga and can’t possibly relax her neck enough. She writes for her blog and owns a yoga studio in Connecticut. Contact her by email