Yoga Pants Ignite Controversy

yoga pants
Photo by lululemon addict

Yoga Pants: By turns celebrated and maligned, this sartorial novelty is not without its share of press—and controversy! Fashion aficionados mourn the trend as excessively laid back and sloppy, while devotees cite comfort and convenience as support for wearing them outside of yoga class. Most recently, an Ohio’s Loveland High School added to the fray, claiming yoga pants are “too revealing” to be worn by students.

Seventeen teens—including many honor students—spent the day serving in-school suspension for wearing yoga pants Thursday, while “dozens of other students said they were sent home or forced to change their clothes.”

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Senior Olivia Legg shares, “I feel like if I wore jeans and a cute shirt, I’d be more distracting than what I’m wearing now.” Many students interviewed indicated they did not wear the pants for attention, but for comfort, pointing out that jeans, skirts, and dresses could be as equally “distracting” but do not warrant prohibition.

The school dress code does not explicitly prohibit yoga pants or leggings, but does forbid “revealing [or distracting] clothing.”

Echoing the belief that yoga pants are inappropriate, a recent MSN Travel compilation of “worst dressed cities” lists Vancouver, BC as number 3, an honor credited to Vancouver being LuluLemon’s birthplace. The ubiquity of yoga pants leads author Vivian Song to sniff: “Really, what gives with the whole wearing of bum-hugging workout gear to every other place except the gym?”  “Worst-dressed” claims aside, the prospect of their impropriety merits discussion. School district dress codes do in some cases prohibit spandex, of which most yoga pants (LuluLemon’s “luon” notwithstanding) are arguably comprised.

Traditionally, Ashrams—even some in America—forbade revealing attire (today’s yoga pants would almost certainly qualify).  Some American Ashrams continue to request devotees shun such attire, and in India, where Shiva Rea was recently subjected to scathing criticism for, among other things, revealing attire during a yoga performance, this is the norm rather than the exception.

While modest attire may thus seem needlessly square to the modern yoga practitioner (and high school student), traditionally it is viewed to foster cultivation of an internal focus and relationship with the higher self (Atman), as opposed to the desire and attachment driven ego.

How does what you wear and what you see other yoga practitioners wear effect your yoga practice?

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