November 17, 2013

My Discount Store Yoga Clothes.

I have a confession to make.

I had never even heard of Lululemon until sometime last year when I saw a funny viral video about yoga. While I admit I am not a yogini and certainly not an advanced student, I have been practicing fairly regularly for about six years.

The classes I have taken have ranged from Hatha Mom and Me  at a small studio, a basic eclectic yoga at the local YMCA and a couple of studios that practice Vinyassa, Kundalini, and Iyengar yoga.

Maybe it’s because I attend classes in smaller cities, but yoga apparel has never been a high topic of conversation at any of them. Sure, I occasionally hear conversations from other students like, “Where did you get that cute top? I like the OM sign.” or “Oh, I never wear shorts to yoga because I don’t like my knees.” But labels have never been brought up in any of the classes I have been to.

So lately, I have been hearing so much negative press about Lululemon and I can’t understand what all the hubbub is about. While I do see why some people were upset when the company refused to refund their customers’ money after selling them see-through pants, I can’t figure out why people continue to buy their clothing if they don’t like it.

The first pair of yoga pants I purchased were from (gasp) Walmart.

Okay, Walmart is not my favorite store but I wasn’t sure I would like yoga and I certainly wasn’t going to invest a ton of money in attire. My Walmart pants served me well though, and I continued alternating them with the pants I bought from Target. Every so often I find a hidden gem in an overstock store that sells brands like Athleta or other organic cotton yoga clothing. However most of the time I get by with plain fitted T-shirts and basic brands.

Apparently though, yoga is not immune to the keeping up with the Joneses phenomena that prevails when it comes to status quo and branding. This seems ironic to me considering the first of the Yoga Sutras reads: “With Humility (an open heart and mind) we embrace the sacred study of yoga” 1.1 

While most of us understand the term humility to mean lowering oneself to another, it is considered a spiritual practice by Buddhists and key towards achieving enlightenment.

In the Bhagavad Gita, humility is described with the concept of amanitvam which means both modest and humble behavior and is listed as the first virtue. A Hindu scholar, Vivekananda, states that “each human being is the Universal, recognizing and feeling oneness with everyone and everything else in the universe, without inferiority or superiority or any other bias, is the mark of humility.”

So how do $80 sweat-wicking crop pants fit into all of this? They don’t.

Nowhere in the sutras does it say enlightenment is achieved through a certain brand of clothing.

I’m not advocating we all show up to yoga in potato sacks, and everyone has the right to wear what they want but at some point we need to reassess our priorities.

Why does it matter where we bought our tank tops? Why would a $70 pair of yoga pants hold more status for some people than a $15 pair? And why, oh why is this an issue in the yoga community which should be aiming towards the ideas of non-attachment and being present and not about projecting a certain image?

While I get that many people attending yoga classes are not there for any type of enlightenment and could care less about The Yoga Sutras or The Bhagavad Gita, there is a lot more to yoga than attaining sculpted arms and tight abs. I like to look cute too, but truth be told no one really seems to care about the brand of my pants.

I’m not there to be the center of attention as anyone can see by watching me topple over in Tree Pose.

I’m in class because I love yoga. I love it for the way it has helped me grow spiritually and I love it for how it has challenged me as a person. I love it because it has helped me let go of some of my ego as I struggle to attempt crow without breaking my nose. I love it because it has taught me acceptance—both in my successes and my failures.

So for now I will continue working on getting my heels to descend closer to the floor in Downward Facing Dog. I will strive to slow down my thoughts in Savasana. I will work on revolving my torso in Triangle and allow my hips to let go a little in Lotus.

I will work on the Eight Limbs of Yoga and I will do it while wearing my discount store yoga clothes.


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 Editor: Catherine Monkman

{Photo: Lynn Friedman via Flickr Creative Commons}

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