The popular media has recently caught the scent of the growing importance of yoga within the blossoming lifestyle trends towards improving individual health and the wholeness of consciousness. Some of these articles have made a caricature of the yoga mama portraying only a tiny tip of the iceberg while missing the enormous impact that this lifestyle trend is creating within our society. But as they say, "All publicity is good publicity" and we all welcome the recognition and attention towards ways to improve our quality of life, health and awareness.
The science, philosophy, practice and art of Yoga are vast. At its basis, Yoga is Union, union with the simplest form of awareness - Pure Consciousness. The many different branches and schools of Yoga all have the same goal which is the complete integration and perfect functioning of body and mind.
Because Yoga integrates and strengthens all aspects of our mind, body and awareness, the benefits from the practice of Yoga are wide and far reaching with improvements in cardiovascular efficiency, the respiratory system, muscular and structural flexibility and suppleness, greater emotional and mental balance, increased energy, reduced stress, increased mental clarity, and improved health.
The clothing that you wear when practicing Yoga should help you on the Path and not be a distraction. Your yoga clothing should allow you to move easily and freely in the different asana postures without strain or restriction. Keep these qualities in mind when selecting your yoga clothing:
- Comfortable. Yoga clothes should be comfortable and allow free movement for your body in the various Yoga positions. Some people prefer loose fitting clothing that allows plenty of room to move and some prefer close-fitting, stretchy clothing with a bit of lycra so your clothes don’t get in the way of your movements. Either can work well and it is largely a matter of choice. Make sure that your clothing also is suitable to your level of modesty and that as you stretch and bend your clothing doesn’t expose more of yourself than you feel comfortable with.
When choosing your yoga wear chose clothing made with pure organic cotton or hemp as these provides maximum comfort by allowing the body to breathe properly which is an essential for yoga apparel. Another important feature of Yoga clothes should be sweat absorbency to help keep you dry and comfortable. Besides being softer, the longer fibers of organic cotton have much greater moisture absorbency than chemically grown and processed conventional cotton. Hemp has the greatest absorbency of all the natural fibers and is a good choice for yoga and activewear clothing.
For ladies, it is wise to invest in a good sport bra which can help considerably with support and comfort. This will enhance and bring self confidence during your yoga practice.
- Healthy. Our desire to improve our health through the practice of Yoga should be supported by wearing healthy, organic clothing. Cotton is the most popular natural fiber but conventionally grown and manufactured cotton is the most chemically-intensive fiber grown with devastating consequences to the environment. Conventionally grown cotton consumes 25% of the pesticides used in the world. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that the nine most common pesticides are highly toxic – five are probable carcinogens.
Protect your health and the health of the environment by selecting organically grown and manufactured clothing.
- Durable. The stretching, bending, and twisting of some yoga asanas can strain some seams and fabrics. Select well-constructed clothing with double seams and durable manufacturing. The longer fibers of organic cotton and hemp are naturally stronger, wear longer and are more comfortable.
- Life Sustaining. Practicing yoga will help us establish balance within ourselves and a balanced lifestyle in harmony with our environment. Part of this balanced lifestyle is acknowledging the right of all people to be paid a fair and just wage for their labors. When purchasing your yoga clothes look for clothing that has been manufactured in a Fair Trade, non-sweatshop environment.
Michael Lackman is a long yoga practicioner. He is also the founder of LotusOrganics.com, an online organic clothing store offering purely beautiful and healthy organic clothing for yoga, exercise, casual wear and sleepwear.