A Little Review of Four Popular Yogawear Brands

I don’t normally do reviews on this page.  It’s not because I’m opposed to them; I just don’t typically think to do them, and I don’t buy a lot of stuff to review (unless you all want to hear my reviews of kale, peanut butter, and soy cream cheese).  Recently, however, I did a little shopping at Lululemon, Athleta, Prana, and I Am Beyond. So, I thought I would take a minute to pass on some of my thoughts about each.

Lululemon

Lululemon is popular and expensive.  There is just no two ways around that.  I’ve wanted to buy things from them far more than I have actually purchased, due to the cost.  But, recently I bought a pair of capris and was gifted with a tank.

Material – Materials from Lulu seem to vary, but for the most part they are strongly weighted, with a lot of compression effect.  They recommend washing Lulu products completely alone, because washing them with other items can cause the material to appear “pill-y” quickly.  In some ways, I like the feeling of support offered by these clothes, but in other ways, I don’t.  I found the tank very snug on my ribcage, and it was an uncomfortable snug (like a compression sock) that just didn’t work for me and I would have found distracting in a class.

Functionality – Because of the compression factor, Lulu items do provide a good amount of support for even a vigorous class.  And as they tend to be very form fitting, there isn’t anything getting in the way or dragging around.  As a small chested but big ribbed/shouldered woman, I find it really hard to get a fit in a top from them, and many are overly low in the cleavage area.

Looks – Lululemon clothes have that Lululemon look to them.  You know them when you see them.  They are clearly athletic apparel, but with some “fun” details in colors (usually accent colors).  There aren’t many of their items that I would wear for other than athletic purposes, but that’s not necessarily a drawback depending on how your schedule works out.

Cost -Pricey, very pricey.  While I think the quality is pretty good, there is something that troubles me about paying almost as much for a pair of pants as I would for a month of unlimited yoga classes.  I have heard that discounts can be had for instructors (in store only) but haven’t tried that out.

Customer Service / Returns – Watch the return policy for Lulu.  It is a very short window of time, particularly for gift giving or online orders.  My spouse ordered me the tank for my birthday.  By the time it arrived, the day came, and I tried it on, the period when I could return it had already passed.  So, now I’m stuck with a very expensive tank, with the tags still on it, and no way to exchange it or get the funds back.

I Am Beyond

I Am Beyond was a company I hadn’t heard of at all until after I started spending a lot of time in yoga studios and noticed the little lotus logo on a few people.  As a teacher training completion gift, I bought myself a pair of capri pants, and a jacket from them.

Material – Again, there are different fabrics available in this brand.  Some are relatively thin, which could present a problem dependent on how you are using them.  But, some are thicker.  The supplex/lycra blend that seems to be the most common is possibly one of the softest, most pettable fabrics I have ever experienced. I have to work when wearing the capris not to keep petting my own thigh.  Really.  This fabric isn’t thin, but it’s not as thick or compressive as Lululemon’s similar Luon blend.

Functionality – Because there is less compression, it’s possible that some people may find I Am Beyond products to lack support.  They have a wide variety of styles for most items, but here too I found that a lot of the tanks seemed a little low cut for a vigorous yoga class.  Maybe I’m just a prude.

Looks – I Am Beyond is pretty stylish, and has some unique pieces.  They don’t seem to utilize patterns much, but the solids run a wide range of colors and the styles are different from offerings I see other places.

Cost – IAB is less expensive than Lulu, but more expensive than Prana or Athleta for similar items (i.e a standard pair of capris runs about $90 at Lulu, $70 at IAB, and $60 at Prana and Athleta).  You can also sometimes find promo codes for I Am Beyond, so be sure to check that out before you order.

Customer Service / Returns – I haven’t had to use the return policy for this company, but I noted that it is about the same as Lulu – so a short window. If buying for someone else, I would suggest a gift card rather than an item, because a decision about fit will need to be made rather quickly after arrival.

Prana

Prana was the first “real” yoga clothing company I ever got anything from, as a gift.  Recently, I was able to purchase some additional items to give them a better try.  They included capris, tanks, and a dress.

Material – While you’ll also find a variety of materials here, the tops tend to be a relatively “slinky” poly blend, while the bottoms are thicker and more matte.  I like the material of the tops for washability, lack of wrinkle when packing, and flow.  However, if you have issues with slippery feeling fabrics, you’ll want to watch this.  In general, I’ve found the material for Prana to be more supportive than I Am Beyond, but less than Lululemon.

Functionality – Prana has a pretty wide range of items, so it’s not too hard to find things that will work for you.  I’ve found it pretty easy to get tops that don’t leave me in fear of flashing anyone around me.  Because I’m not large chested (or even medium), I find the tanks to have enough support, but I would think that the weight of the material would make this not the case for anyone with average or above breast size.

Looks – If you like prints, Prana might be a good choice for you.  They tend to have a wider variety of prints than the other three.  Once in a while, I see a print there that I feel like is a little middle-aged (but, hey, so am I), but in general, they are pretty.  Their clothes also don’t scream “workout wear” so they are pretty easy to dress up for other purposes or wear transitionally.

Cost –  As noted above, Prana is generally a lower price-point than Lulu or IAB.  This certainly doesn’t make it inexpensive.  If you can catch a sale or know a friend who is an “Influencer” (and then wait for one of their Friends and Family sales) then you can get a good deal on their items.

Customer Service / Returns – Prana has quite a liberal return/exchange policy and they are good about helping with that process.  I’ve been generally pleased with their customer service.

Athleta

Athleta is part of the Gap company’s offerings.  They have few physical locations, so that has made me hesitant to order.  But, I’ve gone ahead for a few things using birthday gift cards, including pants, a skirt, a tank, and (in the past) swimwear.

Material – Items at Athleta vary pretty widely in intended use, so there are a lot of different fabrics.  For the yoga specific clothes, most are lycra/nylon blends and of a weight similar to Prana (so thicker than IAB, but not as thick as Lulu).  Other than the more swimwear oriented items, I haven’t seen as much slippery cloth as Prana.  I’ve had mostly good experience with washability of the fabric, with the exception of a little pilling action on a skirt.

Functionality – They have a lot of stuff.  A lot.  It takes some time to go through the pages, because the way things are marked may not really reflect what would be functional to do in them.  For example, some of the yoga tops are such that I’m pretty sure they would fall over your face if you went into any inversion.  It’s worth it to take some time and sort through the site to find what you want.  The tops with support inside seem to be a little more supportive than Prana or IAB, but less so than Lululemon.

Looks – Again here, there is so much to select from that it is hard to say.  They tend to have less print items than Prana, but more than IAB.  A lot of the items have kind of a California/surfer vibe to me.  But, then again, I’m from Indiana, so what do I know?

Cost – Prices at Athleta are similar to Prana, but they have sales with more frequency (though not as often as the other companies in the line).

Customer Service / Returns – Similar to Prana, Athleta has a good return policy.  They are part of the Gap corp., so customer service is about what you would expect there (functional if you call, but they won’t know a lot about the specific items beyond what you can see on the page).  If you have a local store, which are few and far between, returns and exchanges are much easier.

So, there you have it, my little review.  Right now, I would say that Prana is my favorite of the four, but I can see why someone would pick any of the others as well.

Happy shopping,

L

10 Random Things I Love Right Now

Old Path, White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh.  If you have studied Buddhism before, this book will create new ways to think about old ideas and encourage your consideration of the interconnection of all being.  If you haven’t, it is a very enjoyable way to get started while being told an interesting story.

Quaker Quakes in Sweet Chili. Yum! My sister, Allison, recommended these when I confessed to a potato chip binge and it was a good suggestion. The only problem is that they are hard to keep in the house.  I haven’t tried all of the other flavors yet, but I suspect it is only a matter of time until I do!

George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. I sort of happened upon this series accidentally. I don’t know how, but I had missed all of the discussion about the HBO show. I saw it on Amazon while looking for vacation reading and did the pages/price calculation and decided it was a good deal for the ratings. Really. So, I read it while in Indiana and it took me almost the whole week, which is near forever for me, but was quite a good read. I’m now on book two.

The Quinn dress. I recently got this dress from Prana and I adore it!  It has enough support that I don’t need an additional garment underneath and it can go from super casual to semi-dressy with the addition of jewelry and a sweater, along with a change of shoes.  I wore it multiple times during my recent vacation and plan to pick it up in another print.

Anahatasana is a pose that I am really enjoying at the moment.  Something unhappy is going on with my shoulder, so some poses that work them feel bad, but this pose is a good pain – nice and opening.  We did this last night in Beth Filla’s class at Yogawood and with the heat it felt delicious.

Logitech 305M wireless mouse. I just got this little guy when I returned from my vacation to Indiana this week and I love it. Come on, how cute is this mouse?? And the USB thingy stores inside the mouse when not in use, so I won’t lose it. It was plug and play with both my Mac and my PC.

Camera+ for iPhone. I haven’t been totally happy with my regular camera app on the iPhone, and while Instagram is fun, I feel like it’s too limited.  My sister, Angie (check out her awesome blog) suggested this one to me and at $1.99 it was a very good deal!  It does a lot for an iPhone image app.

Community supported agriculture! – For the third year, we belong to a local CSA at Muth Family Farm in Williamstown, NJ.  I love going to pick up my basket of veggies each week, getting to wander through the available produce, selecting everything that looks delicious (which is almost everything I’m eligible to take) and then figuring out ways to cook it up each week.  Tonight, eggplant non-parm with fresh basil, parsley, and green onions is on the menu for dinner!

Running a Life blog. Ok, this is a funny one.  I do not run.  I’ve been trying lately and it’s not going well.  I’m not exactly sure that my body is made for running, and the bone on bone action going on in my hips and knees seems to also be a problem.  But, I love this blog.  Maria, at Runningalife.com makes me want to get out and run like the wind with every post.  That’s good writing!


The Amazon Kindle. I hate to end with a pricey electronic, but I just can’t help it.  I freaking love my Kindle.  When I bought Derek his, way back after they first came out, I didn’t want one.  I thought I wouldn’t use it.  And then he got me one and I was hooked.  I love it – a lot.  Having an endless array of books available to me – what’s not to like?  In fact, I currently have the 2nd generation model and am considering a new one because mine has developed a few little glitches.  That’s some serious technology love.

And those are 10 random things I love today.

L

Are You a Yoga Skeptic?

Science Lab

Image by Curious Expeditions

In my non-yoga related field of study, most participants fall pretty neatly into one of two camps.  They are either social scientists or they are humanist/interpretivists (some would say that critical approaches represent a third, but that’s an argument for another day).  Early in my academic life, I spent some time on social scientific work, even getting to coauthor a few publications from that perspective.  I pretty quickly decided that approach/world view just was not for me.  It wasn’t that I didn’t think it has things to say; it does.  It wasn’t that I didn’t see the utility or logic in such an approach; I did.  It just felt incomplete to me to study living beings totally at the level of science.  I felt like I was missing something crucial that could only be fully examined through looking at the diversity of individual experience rather than the ascertaining the common patterns.  So, all that to say that I don’t usually self-identify as a scientist and am often most drawn to non-scientific research when it comes to understanding the human experience.

Now and then, however, my inner scientist pokes her head around the corner and says, “Um, excuse me, but do you have some proof of that?”  I had this experience this week reading about Prana and yoga philosophy.  My inner scientist (or skeptic, you might say), does not much rebel at the idea of a universal connection or that we are all one.  Apparently, there is enough evidence for those to keep her quiet – or it’s a leap of faith she is willing to make.  The concept that breath is the root of everything in the body, that works for the science skeptic.  After all, without breath there is no life, so it seems somehow perfectly reasonable to go there.

This week in class we read and discussed prana, the nadis, chakras and so on, and the inner skeptic scientist ran right into the center of my brain and made her presence known.  Had the reading started first with prana and nadis, as we did in class, I think that might have happened more slowly.  Even the skeptic is ok with the idea that there is a life force in the body that cannot be reduced to the breath, or the nervous system, or the cardiovascular system.  It’s something else.  And with that accepted, the general notion of nadis also works – if there is an energy, then the idea of energy pathways is reasonable enough for the skeptic.  But, when I started reading for this week, I began with a chapter from Jivamukti Yoga by Sharon Gannon and David Life.  The first paragraph begins with a description of Kundalini (consciousness) coiled as a snake at the base of the spine, reading to ascend to cosmic consciousness through  the sushamna nadi (central energy channel).  Yeah, um, what?  My inner scientist skeptic started immediately getting antsy.  I think there may have been some pacing.  From there it headed into nadis and chakras and vayus and granthis and I think that my inner scientist may have begun holding her head and moaning slightly.  “Wait!  Where is the evidence?  How do you know there is a central channel with two channels wrapped around it?  Snake, what?  REALLY?  Chakras and granthis that cannot be seen?  Uh huh.”

It’s not that I can’t believe in something unseen (see me speaking of this part of self that I’m calling the inner scientist/skeptic?) but known though experience.  I think it’s that when I start thinking about the physical body and then combining that with talking about the metaphysical in ways that I have not really experienced, then somehow that part of what is “I” wants some evidence.  I want to see it or see that someone has.  I want to read some test results.  I guess I want proof.  Interesting from a humanist/interpretivist!

I don’t think this will be a stopper for me in these studies.  I just have to find a spot from which I can think about these ideas and examine their utility for being (after all, as I tell my students, the accuracy of your memories is not important at all – what is important is what they are doing for/to you today).  I just need to find a way to be with this knowledge that doesn’t make my inner scientist squeamish.  And, I think I can.   My nervousness about accepting as “fact” (or even more as dogma) what I have no experience of (including scientific ) has a lot to do with how uncomfortable I am with accepting religion, but when I embraced Buddhism as a philosophy built on experiential examination of being, it was all good and I became comfortable enough to say that I embrace Buddhist thought – in the understanding that Buddha said we shouldn’t accept this way of thinking about being as the absolute – we should always question and bring in what we have experienced.  So, this will be a part of my ongoing project in yoga.  How about you?  Do you have an inner scientist/skeptic and how does this impact your yoga practice?

I must say, people who think yoga is just “fuzzy stretching” are awfully confused ; )

Namaste,

L