Yesterday, I spent a wonderful afternoon shopping at Lululemon, the apparel and accessories boutique for yogis, runners, dancers, and more. The clothing--glorious! The store’s atmosphere? Divine--chic and sporty. I left with two complimentary “Om” bags filled with new Boogie shorts and sports bras, one set of which I donned to my bikram yoga class this morning. I like to sweat in style!
Indeed, the sports bra I purchased has straps that come to a peak at the top of my back and then descend in four cascading lines into a half-diamond. The grace of gown in ready-to-sweat form!
And my shorts? Oh-so-short in the front, but curving a bit deeper in the back. They’re line-hugging with a pop of color and pattern--texture, almost--at the elongated waistband. In such a skin-bearing shape, even my five-foot-tall self appears to have the longer lines of a dancer.
Indeed, I would shop all day in that store if I could, buying up each new item, each new color and pattern as Lululemon comes out with it. But as I was browsing through the store, loving every minute of it, picking out everything in hot pink or sophisticated all-black--a little question was nagging at me:
Is it ok to be mindful, meditative--a yogi--and be fashionable? Is it ok to care about looking trendy, chic, and dare I say sexy?
Into The Om: The First Encounter
I first discovered Lululemon in college. My roommate was writing a story for The Spectator, the university’s newspaper, about the store and, after seeing a movie in the Lincoln Center area together, she asked if I didn’t mind walking a block or two to the nearest Lululemon shop.
As soon as I walked in, I knew the love affair had begun. Lululemon was everything I wanted to be as an athlete--it was sporty (the mannequins were not some flimsy, model-types--they had feminine yet strong, muscular legs. Their calf muscles protruded in all their glory); it was empowered and empowering--the store’s manifesto, which includes “do one thing a day that scares you” and “dance, sing, floss and travel”--was on the walls, the water bottles, and even the underwear: “Do it now” recently graced the Premium Technikini. And, finally, it was feminine, fun, and flirty. With their whimsical, subtly insinuative and innuendo-bestrewn slogans and product names--including the “Hook Me Up” bra and the “Hot Cheeks” running skirt--Lululemon makes any girl feel that working out is sexy!
Love At First Sight! (Or So I Thought.)
Needless to say, I couldn’t stop gushing over the store’s apparel. Designed with the bodies of dancers, yogis, runners, and more in mind, the clothing had the perfect fit with the perfect feminine touches--design and otherwise. As we walked out of the store, I turned to my roommate and said--in that exaggerated, dreamy fashion: “Oh my god, I want everything in there!”
In reply, she turned to me and said, abruptly, “You liked it? It’s everything that’s wrong with yoga.”
I was appalled. What could be so wrong with that feminine, flirty, and gloriously yoga-loving haven? And so she expounded--yoga was meant, in its origins, to be about the spirit, the mind. About the purity of a sacred experience. It was not about bodies and fashion and definitely not about looking cute while doing it. This, she insisted, was yoga (and, she lumped in, society), diminished.
Uh Oh, Must This Modern Yogi Repent?
And, so, as I walked through Lululemon yesterday, this time on my own in a nearby mall, I thought about what she said. Why did I really want to buy all these hot pink sports bras and adorably hip-hugging pants? My thoughts immediately went to one of the books I read recently by Gary Zukav--in buying these clothes, was I seeking, to use his words, “external power”? Did I just want to manipulate and attract the attention of the gloriously shirtless men in my bikram yoga class? Did my ego feed off of wearing bright pinks and other feminine colors and patterns? Was I seeking fulfillment from without when I should really be looking within?
My gosh, all this anxiety, and over what? So I want to wear chic apparel to yoga class? So be it!
I am sporty and athletic and powerful. I am graceful and elegant when I swan-dive into the separate-leg-stretching posture in the bikram series. I am mindful and meditative. I try to stay focused, centered, and tuned into myself as I breathe deeply throughout class. And, you know what, I’m also girly! I do yoga with sass, and I like it. When I go to Kundalini yoga class, I wear pink instead of white. So what? I still tap into my energy centers, I still feel the glorious tingling sensations, the presence and aliveness. Who cares that I do it in the wrong color?
So embrace everything that you are. Be strong, sporty, and sexy--none are exclusive and limiting; be one, be all, be everything you want to be.
Namaste to that!