I went on Kurt Johnsen’s radio show “Health Wealth and Happiness” last week to talk about Pass the Mic, and got to sit in while he interviewed Yeah-Dave Romanelli. They got into a pow wow about the relative merit or demerit of the Yoga Journal “Talent Search“. I believe Kurt’s point was that marketing fashion and cool tricks as being what yoga’s about is risky business. Well, it got me thinking.
DID YOU KNOW: Yoga is now a $6 BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY?* And for some reason it seems to revolve in large part around black spandex pants.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with fancy yoga clothes and gear. And I get that there’s merit to the instructor not wearing MC Hammer pants, so that you can see what he or she is demonstrating. I also get that while practicing, you wanna wear something that’s not gonna get in your way. But what I don’t get is why that all has to mean spandex. Unless you just dig it.
Like lots of people I know, when I started taking yoga classes at a studio, I got hooked during the introductory new student special. And then signed up for a pricey membership, and went out and bought a bunch of pairs of tight black polyester spandex pants. Not to mention a $60 sweat towel to put on my mat, that I would eventually leave at a studio, never to be heard from again. And let’s not forget the $22 stainless steel eco-friendly water bottles.
All of this simultaneously caused pain to my ever so fragile pocketbook, made me more self-conscious about the weight I had to lose (and leaving the house in said pants), and had me wondering whether or not I could afford to practice yoga. Thankfully, at some point I came to the realization that one of the beauties of yoga is that it doesn’t require any of that. All I needed was me.
So nowadays in class, you’ll likely catch me donning sweats or American Apparel leggings from eBay (see: above), a Hanes beater, and a $9 mat from Target. Not because I don’t like nice things (I sure do!), but because for me, I’ve found that my scarce resources are best allocated elsewhere.
There’s no mat, yogi towel, groovy toe sock or nifty boob lifting and separating wonder sports bra that are going to make my body and mind healthy and free of pain. For me, it’s the actual practice of yoga that helps work towards that goal, and it’s the reason I go to yoga in the first place.
The beauty of the healing benefits of yoga are that they’re free; and require only yourself, gravity and the ground. The cool toys are just icing. Besides, what kind of gear do you think Patanjali** and his posse were sporting? =)
*I found this article while proofing my entry. Yes, it uses a lot of the same punch lines. Guess they’re just some of the obvious ones. Right on, Elephant Journal!
**Patanjali = Considered the Granddaddy of modern yoga.