There’s something to be said for dressing the part, for honoring the occasion.
I learned this lesson early on from my chameleonic grandmother who wore everything from opera gloves to mud boots, as circumstances dictated. Needless to say, I was surprised to hear it echoed in the biography of Master Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras!
Master Patanjali, as it turns out, was not only a highly realized yogi, but also an accomplished ayurvedic physician, great philosopher, expert Sanskrit grammarian and pioneer in the field of traditional Indian dance. The costumes and movements of ancient Indian dancing were designed so that the dancer would not just perform, but actually take on the identity of the deity they were praising in the dance.
In some sense, this is why I came to work for Hyde. I had been away on a yoga and meditation retreat and wore Hyde literally every single day. I had packed other pants, but each morning when I got dressed, all I wanted to wear was the Divine Drawstring. Because they are unfailingly comfortable and remarkably unobtrusive—not at all bulky or bunchy—I almost forgot I was wearing pants at all.
Something about the freeing outer experience of the clothes gave rise to a freeing inner experience: I was able to let go of how I ordinarily conceive myself and step into a new perception. I felt beautiful, graceful and, dare I say, perhaps even a bit divine.
My love affair with the pants (the Divine Drawstring in particular, but also the Twisted Seam Legging—so flattering!) led me to explore the wide array of Hyde tops. I had never paid too much attention to tops before. Foolishly ignoring my grandmother’s example, I figured my cast-off tanks and tees would work fine for yoga. But when I tried an “official” yoga top (my favorite is the Kitkat, followed closely by the Vira), a strange thing started to happen: not only did I notice a discernible difference in the ease of my asanas (no longer were misplaced seams irritating me in chatturanga and too-baggy tee’s falling in my face in headstand), but also a new-found joy and confidence overtook me in the poses themselves.
Something shifted, silly as it sounds, when I was wearing these beautiful, comfortable clothes. I felt like I was elevated to another level of practice, simply because I was dressing the part.
Perhaps like Master Patanjali’s ancient dancers, I was I was able to experience myself as a yogi—happier, kinder, less judgmental of myself and others—just by taking on a yogi’s outer appearance. Any remaining doubts that I was somehow still an imposter, doing someone else’s practice, fell away. The experience of being beautifully and appropriately dressed for class has led to a deeper connection with the—my!—practice.
And while my teacher continually reminds us to keep our gaze focused in one spot, my eyes admittedly wander around the room. I see what other people are wearing. No one looks as chic, happy and unburdened as the yogis in Hyde. In addition to how the outer look enhances the inner feeling, my personal theory (and I suspect Master Patanjali would back me up on this) is that Hyde yogis breathe more easily in class—and thus enjoy yoga more—because the organic cotton actually breathes! Hyde does not make anything resembling a corset or girdle, nor do we use materials which to me feel more appropriate for a scuba suit.
My understanding of yoga is that its goal is to bring us to place entirely free of all our self-perceived limitations. So we may as well practice in clothes that are similarly liberated. Hence my love of Hyde.
About Hyde Yoga:
Hyde is a Brooklyn-based, yogini-owned and operated line of organic yoga apparel. Born in 2005, Hyde continues to make comfortable and beautiful yoga apparel that moves and breathes with your practice.
About the Author:
Brook Cosby is a New York City-based teacher of meditation and yoga philosophy, freelance copywriter and director of special projects at Hyde Yoga. Known for her clear and compassionate elucidation of ancient techniques for reaching stillness and opening the heart, she teaches meditation at Kula Yoga Project and is on faculty with the acclaimed Conquering Lion Yoga Teacher Training Program. She began her yoga practice after graduating from Dartmouth College in 2000 and has since completed over 1000 hours of training, including Conquering Lion and Jivamukti.