This is a little message from me to all of the designers and manufacturers of yoga clothes out there. True, this is only my opinion, but I will say that I have discussed this with a pretty wide range of people. I feel like these five qualities are those that many yogis can get behind.
Just to set the ground for what I’m about to say, I’m talking about the asana limb of yoga in this post. It seems to me that the other seven limbs shouldn’t really require special clothing. But, to some degree, asana does. Now, you might say, “it doesn’t if you practice naked.” This might be true for some people. However, some need a little more support in one area or another, and some of us are just never going to practice in the buff. For those who do want to practice nude, or really like the itty bitty tiny teeny outfits, run with that. This is for the rest of us. Given those basics, there are only five things I need from my yoga clothes.
1. I want the clothing to be designed with the activity in mind. Yes, I know that there are many types of asana and it’s hard to remember them all, but I think the basics can be considered. Pants should be an appropriate length. This means long enough to cover all of the important bits when bending WAY over, and it also means not being an awkward in between length that makes bakasana impossible. Necklines shouldn’t be so low that the person across from you is absolutely guaranteed full-frontal nudity when you move into catturanga. Similarly, armholes should not be so large that the person on your right can see the person on your left through the shirt. This is yoga, not the Hustler centerfold.
2. On a related note, the clothing should allow for ease and freedom of movement. They do not need to be so compressing and constrictive that they feel like you are wearing a boa constrictor on all of your limbs. I understand the benefit of compression pants for endurance running. But, I don’t want my yoga pants to emulate sausage casing. I want to be able to flow in a flow class, and not have that hampered by clothing items. This means selecting fabric with some stretch. While some items (i.e. a sports bra) need to be supportive, there is no reason that my calves, shoulders, and ribs need to be squeezed.
3. Part of #2 might be related to a need for yoga clothing that fits a variety of bodies. All too often, brands have one length of pants (we are all the same height?), a limited range of shirt sizes, one type of pants rise, etc. We say that yoga is for everybody but we do not design the clothing for every body. One glance around a yoga class makes it clear that there are a wide variety of waist/hip ratios going on. Manufacturers should get that. Breast size isn’t always correlated with overall body or rib size. Designers need to understand that. Making the center seam in pants the same rise on almost all lengths/sizes pretty much promises that there will be women in the room with a serious case of… I’m not going to say it but you know what I mean. That’s not comfortable for the wearer or the viewer.
4. Speaking of viewer comfort, I have yet to find a magic transporter to get me to/from yoga. So, I want clothes that are before/after class appropriate. Sometimes, I have to run to the elementary school before yoga, or the doctor after, or stop by the pharmacy on the way. Is it too much to ask that yoga clothing has the flexibility to be worn in other settings? Yes, this may mean that we won’t all look like the Victoria’s Secret yoga clothes models (whew!), but it’s a trade-off that I would be willing to make. After all, this is yoga, not a dance club. If I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing the clothes in front of my grandma…
5. That having been said, I would like clothes that have pleasing aesthetics. While I don’t need, or want, to try to look like a cover model, I do want to feel ok about my appearance when I stand in front of a class. So, something a little prettier than black gym style shorts and a gray tank is desirable. Solid colors are great, but they can get boring after a while, and it seems that a little bit of well-placed funky or yoga-ish pattern (without going over the top and heading into old-lady fussiness) would be a reasonable request.
And, as a sub category to all of the above, I want these things at some sort of reasonable price. My yoga clothes should not cost more than my yoga classes.
So, there you have it: five (and a half) things that I need from my yoga clothes. Is that too much to ask?