Yoga and Fashion: Common Ground?

A recent article by yoga instructor and
fashionista Meghan Blalock sets out to establish the “shared
truths of fashion and yoga.”
She argues that
“contrary to appearances, the two enterprises share a core truth:
they are vehicles by which one can both discover one’s core self
and endlessly re-shape one’s identity.” Blalock then describes
preparing to take a 5:30am hot yoga class during her teacher
training, for which she found the most crucial aspect of preparation
not adequate sleep, sustenance, or hydration, but finding the
“perfect outfit;” something that “helped [her] feel fierce,
strong, nearly invincible.”

She continues, “fashion has always
been that for me: something close to armor, a way to assert myself in
the world with strength, present the image I want to present to the
world, and endow myself with the traits I aspire to.” But is this
yoga? In defining the discipline of yoga, Patanjali’s
second Yoga Sutra states that yoga is the cessation of
mental activity. This refers to a state of union in which differences
between subject/object, mental activity/cessation, and
spiritual/mundane life dissolve. Because attachment and
over-identification are believed to foster suffering, the eight limbs
of yoga evolved to foster non-attachment to the material realm. Yoga
sloughs away the artifice of our attachments to facilitate
greater integrity, authenticity, and transcendence.

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Fashion asserts difference, whether
differentiating class, subculture, or level of cool. Yoga conversely
yokes together the seemingly disparate aspects of the self—with a
resulting sense of wholeness and fullness. Where fashion depends on
constant change, innovation, and novelty, the gradual melting of
layers for a yogi is vastly deeper and more enduring, unveiling the
authentic self which transcends ego and its attachments/aversions. Of
course, yoga and meditation traditions recognize that the universe is
in a constant state of flux. Thoughts, emotions, and external
environments are constantly changing (just like fashion). While yoga
teaches us to embrace this change, the skills it endows for doing so
allow us to understand that any sensation, thought, or desire will
pass if we simply contemplate it long enough.

Yoga and meditation thus provide us
with the fortitude and insight to act intentionally and consciously.
If Lulu makes your heart sing and you love decking yourself out in
the latest trends (full disclosure: I love yoga clothes!), then a
yogic perspective might encourage you to explore these preferences
and the impact your choices have on your mental and social
environments. Fashion certainly has the capacity to afford greater
integrity with ourselves and the planet. Yet consumerism presents a
host of distractions that ancient (and often nude) ascetic yogis
lacked, and fashion’s hedonic treadmill has the potential to take
us further from our deepest selves.

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What do you think about yoga’s
relationship to fashion? Do they share similarities? Differences?

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