I started doing yoga secretly in my bedroom when I was 15, when I’d found a layout about five yoga poses in Sassy Magazine.
The photographs were in sepia. The instructions were simple: Breathing? I could do that. Sitting? I could do that, too.
Throw in a down-dog and I was rockin’ it.
Secret Yoga became part of my nightly physical fix. After Secret Dancing around to The Pointer Sister’s “Neutron Dance” in my “You Are Here” Milky Way Galaxy T-shirt, I settled into some secret cat-cow and then secret corpse pose.
What’s with the secret stuff? I was rather awkward and shy to the point of tears. Everything I did was kind of secret. What would people think of me dancing by myself? Now I was also doing this weird yoga thing that no one else I knew was doing.
Years later, I realized nothing had to be a secret. Dancing and keeping fit were things to be proud of. Yoga didn’t have to be a secret as I saw it come across the TV and in mainstream pop culture. Other people were doing it—lots of people had done it for decades. I saw more and more faces and bodies on television and in magazines decked out in yoga pants and fancy yoga tank tops with bright colors and pretty patterns.
I became a certified instructor because I knew I could share my passion with others and hope they found passion, too. Though I was no longer in just an over-sized T-shirt, I was wearing comfy pajamas, a sports bra, and a tank top that had seen better days.
That’s what I wore in my living room, in my bedroom, anywhere around the house while practicing.
And that’s what I wore to the local elementary school to teach Continuing Education classes.
And that’s what I wore to the tiny local yoga studio to teach small classes.
Pajama bottoms and stretched-out tank tops were what I felt comfortable in. Students in these classes were showing up in really expensive yoga gear, and there I was with rainbows and unicorns on flannel.
And we all did yoga together.
I own exactly one set of actual yoga gear—clothing designed specifically for doing yoga. The pants cost the equivalent of five pairs of my pajama pants. The top costs about the same. Investing in health and yoga is one thing, but shelling out that kind of cash to look the part is not an investment that seems needed for every time I do yoga…at home or in public.
I love my yoga pants and yoga top. I wear them in rotation with my pajamas and tanks. But I remain conscious of how I appear and how I practice can affect those who are thinking about joining but aren’t sure they quite fit into the look of things.
Yoga is not a competition. Yoga is an individual practice.
Yoga is a focus on your own mat, listening to your own body, and doing what’s right for you. If what’s right for you involves crazy socks and long-sleeves and perhaps a neat hat, then go for it, though you’re going to have to remove the hat for headstands.
Bonus video: The Pointer Sisters’ Neutron Dance! Come on, you know you wanna…
Author: Christina M. Rau
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Bess Georgette at Flickr