By Michael Lackman
The sciences, philosophy, practice and art of Yoga is vast. At its core, 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 consciousness, the health benefits are huge. Yoga devotees experience improved cardiovascular and respiratory functioning, superior muscular and structural flexibility combined with overall improved suppleness, greater emotional and mental balance and clarity, increased energy, reduced stress, and overall improved health.
The clothing that you wear when practicing Yoga should help you on the Path and not be a distraction or hindrance. Your clothing should allow you to move easily through asana postures without strain or restriction. Keep the following qualities in mind when selecting your yoga clothing:
- Comfort. Yoga clothes should be comfortable enough to allow for free movement of the body in almost all 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 that won't get in the way of your movements. Both work well and it is simply a matter of choice. Make sure that your clothing is suitable to your level of modesty as you stretch and bend, so your clothing doesn't expose more of you than you desire.
When choosing yoga wear, chose clothing made with pure organic cotton or hemp. These fibers provide maximum comfort by allowing the body to breathe which is essential for yoga practice. Another important feature is sweat absorbency. Appropriate yoga clothing will help keep you dry and comfortable. Besides being softer, the longer fibers of organic cotton have greater moisture absorbency than chemically grown and processed conventional cotton. Hemp has the most absorbency of all the natural fibers and is an excellent choice.
For women, 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.
- Health. Our desire to improve our health through the practice of Yoga should be supported by the clothing we wear. Cotton is the most popular natural fiber grown today. However, conventionally grown and manufactured cotton is the most chemically treated fiber which devastates 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.
- Endurance. 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 establish a balance within our self and our lifestyle, in harmony with the environment. Part of this balanced lifestyle is acknowledging the right of all people to be paid a fair and just wage for their labor. When purchasing yoga clothes look for clothing that is Fair Trade, sweatshop-free.
There are numerous benefits to the mind, body, and spirit through the practice of yoga. Get the most from your yoga practice by selecting yoga clothing that will support your maximum experience.
Michael Lackman has been involved with yoga, meditation and holistic development for 35 years. Michael and his wife, Shellie, founded LotusOrganics.com to make it easy for everyone to have purely beautiful and healthy organic clothing for work, school, yoga, exercise, casual wear and sleepwear. Michael also authors an organic clothing blog.