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Dress for Success

Take your seat in style and discover how what you wear affects how you feel and how others feel about you.

By Sara Avant Stover

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Whether you buy your yoga wardrobe from WalMart or Lululemon, you can find just the right fashions to suit your size, budget, and mood. As a student, you might search for styles that show off your body or personality, but, as a teacher, there's more to consider. When you step into the seat of the teacher you become a role model. Then what you wear has a greater impact not only on how you feel but also on how others feel, too. The task is to dress in a way that uplifts your words, actions, and spirit in service to your students and your subject matter.

How can what you wear help you embody your teachings? How can you use all of who you are, inside and out, to inspire your students?

Appearance Matters

Like it or not, what you wear matters. We all know that when we look good, we feel good; and when we feel good, those around us can feel that, too.

"Our physical and subtle bodies can sense so much more than we understand intellectually," says Hari Kaur Khalsa, a Kundalini Yoga teacher, author, and director of education and training at Golden Bridge Yoga NYC.

"Understanding the impact of our actions and presentation is the path of the yogi," she adds. Therefore Khalsa puts a lot of attention into what she wears as a teacher, and she feels grateful that Kundalini founder Yogi Bhajan challenged her to link spirituality with fashion.

As a result, she says, "I have seen the power that sacred fashion has to uplift people both in yoga classes and on the street."

What to Wear?

When choosing what to wear, consider what colors, styles, and fabrics are comfortable, practical, and uplifting for you and your students. Dress with the remembrance that you are a role model for your students.

"Yoga teachers would be wise to be dressed in a way that looks professional: clean, neat, and modest," advises Desiree Rumbaugh, a senior certified Anusara Yoga teacher. "After that, creativity and beauty would definitely enhance the body of the one who is taking the seat of the teacher with Grace."

Grace can have many different looks and faces. When you step into Grace, you embrace infinite possibility and the courage to radically accept and present yourself, as you are, which is always a divinely unique being.

"Grace can be cutting edge!" Khalsa exclaims. "It is the coolest and most sought-after quality in the subconscious."

Living in New York City, she practices what she preaches and enjoys dressing in a way that is creative and surprising. As a result, Khalsa is constantly stopped, photographed, questioned, and complimented because of her attire.

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Reader Comments

Andrea

I teach yoga at a hospital to cancer patients, undergoing treatment. I arrive at class just showered, free of makeup and any lotions or fragrance as it can make some patients nauseated. I wear very simple clothes-plain, form fitting tshirt for modesty, plain yoga pants. Most patients have lost their hair and are not feeling well. The focus should be on them and the yoga, not what I am wearing. I would never wear white as that is what the drs are running around in and would make the patients uncomfortable. Please remember we teach in different circumstances and surroundings and not all colors represent 'comfort'.
I have noticed that Yoga Journal consists of more and more ad's for expensive yoga clothing. Disappointing to be honest.

lindsey

"i disagree with the earlier comment saying we should not wear tight clothing as teachers"
as a teacher, i prefer to wear snug fitting clothing, not only because i find it easier to move in during my vinyasa flow classes, but also because i feel that it allows my students to better see my body and alignment.

Mamaji

I have to agree with reena that the white turban look makes me uncomfortable and would potentially turn off new students -- kind of cultish.

That said, I appreciate other parts of this article. I think being comfortable without looking too "sexy" (ie, "Check me out") is critical. A studio should not be looked at as a stage! At the same time, remember that many students look at the teacher as a role model, whether we like it or not, so cleanliness and crisp presentation are perhaps underrated. Wearing something that allows students to see your precision when demonstrating a pose, but that doesn't show off the body too much, is probably a happy medium.

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