Friday, May 10, 2024

Nava's Zen: Two-Piece Yoga Outfits Challenge Indian Norms

Eight years ago, when I began my yoga practice, I found myself surrounded by mostly Indian yogis, and yes, they love to be known as all sorts of yogis or masters, instead of yoga instructors. They all dressed in faded t-shirts and faded multi-patterned, multi-colored yoga leggings. It seemed like wearing these clothes was just what you did in Indian yoga circles, and as I got more into yoga, I started dressing the same way.

The message was pretty clear: if you're doing yoga with Indians, wear faded stuff. Decency in temples for yoga, is part of respecting places of worship, which as a Hindu I honour. Yet, most stuck to the faded look. Some even resembled as though they are wearing their home clothes (HOME ATTIRE), and coming straight to temple yoga.

But then, I tried aerial yoga. And suddenly, everyone there, especially the Chinese folks, wore two-piece outfits. At first, I felt a bit weird in my usual attire, but eventually, I decided to switch things up and got myself some two-piece yoga outfits.

Subsequently, even for my own Zen yoga (ZEN YOGA OUTFITS) sessions at Nava's Zen, I stuck to the two-piece outfits. But when there is a mix of guys and girls in the groups, I switched back to simpler clothes – just a plain t-shirt and some neat yoga leggings, nothing too flashy. Also, due to, knowing very well, that these groups will drop dead seeing me in two piece yoga outfits. You can just see it in them

Now, let me delve into why this change has been so significant.


Observing Correct Technique

Wearing a two-piece yoga outfit is more than just about fashion; it's about embracing your body, regardless of its shape or size. I deeply admire those who wear them because it shows their acceptance of themselves and their willingness to observe their movements in the mirror during practice, ensuring they're performing the poses correctly.


Highlighting Specific Body Parts

Wearing these outfits for conducting my yoga sessions allows me to highlight specific body parts during poses, like demonstrating that in a forward fold, it's the waist that should be engaged rather than just reaching for the feet with the arms. It's about building flexibility in the right muscles.

Professionalism in Appearance 
Dressing professionally adds a touch of credibility to my role as a yoga instructor; it beats showing up in faded leggings and a stretched-out t-shirt any day.


Confidence Regardless of Age

And let's not forget the boost in self-confidence it brings. By confidently donning my two-piece yoga outfits, I'm sending a message that age is no barrier to feeling great and embracing oneself. In fact, I'm proud to show that even in my 60s, I can exude more confidence than some of the younger instructors who shy away from wearing such outfits. As a yoga instructor, I firmly believe in embodying the principles I teach. If we preach self-confidence and healthy living through yoga, it should be evident not just in our words but also in our physical appearance.


Challenges in Embracing Change: Indian Culture and Norms

Despite the positive changes I've experienced, there's still a downside to wearing two-piece yoga outfits, especially when it comes to sharing videos on social media. Unfortunately, I've faced criticism and derogatory remarks, such as being called "old lady" or "shameless."


It's disheartening to see how deeply ingrained cultural biases can influence perceptions, particularly regarding Indian women wearing such attire.


However, I choose to view these comments as reflections of the insecurities of those making them. It seems that confidence in one's own body is often misconstrued and attacked, particularly when age becomes a focal point.

Redefining Perspectives: Challenging Indian Cultural Norms

Even Indian female yoga instructors, including plus-size ones, often wear tight t-shirts and yoga leggings without realizing the potential immodesty. However, wearing two-piece yoga outfits is deemed obscene. Yet, those who opt for tight t-shirts and yoga leggings, inadvertently reveal more than intended, highlighting the need for a shift in perception.


It's high time Indian society reconsiders its stance and recognizes that wearing two-piece yoga outfits isn't inherently obscene. Instead, it represents a step forward in embracing our bodies and feeling empowered. Let's refrain from passing judgment based on clothing choices.

Questions for Reflection: Rethinking Indian Cultural Standards 
Do you ever attack/backstab me behind my back because of what I wear for yoga? 

Are you lacking confidence, leading you to criticize others

Do you use Indian norms to justify your judgments? 

Have you ever considered how you look in Indian attire? 

Do you prioritize looking presentable for yoga? 

Is lack of self-confidence the reason why you put down other Indian women who keep in shape and size, and dress accordingly?


These questions prompt us to reflect on our interactions with others and ourselves.

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