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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

Recently when Khalsa had exited a movie theater and was waiting to cross the street, a woman beside her leaned over and whispered in a thick Brooklyn accent, "I don't know what this is about, but whatever it is, I love it and so does my husband!"

Khalsa was wearing a white turban, a white silk kurta (long, flowing shirt), a dupata (scarf), jeans, and boots.

Adrian Cox, a vinyasa teacher and owner of Yoga Elements in Bangkok, Thailand, has only recently started to consider the correlation between his wardrobe and his teaching. "I've discovered rather late that fashion in yoga is part of the image I project as a teacher," he says. "Especially here in Asia, appearances are super-important."

Cox now puts more thought into what he wears when he teaches. He opts for cleanliness, modesty, and simplicity by dressing in a standard uniform of white sweat pants and a T-shirt when teaching.

Maintain Modesty

Even when you get bold with your attire, always choose clothing that exudes respect for your students and the teachings.

"Teachers are not meant to wear tight and sexy clothing," says Anna Getty, a Los Angeles-based Kundalini Yoga teacher (and former fashionista) who specializes in pre- and postnatal yoga.

"We are supposed to wear clothing that is loose fitting, comfortable, clean, and uplifting."

In her prenatal classes, Getty makes sure that the mothers-to-be feel comfortable. She opts to wear something light and feminine, such as white cotton pants and a pink Indian-inspired shirt.

"There have been a few times in the past when I have worn yoga clothes that may have been a little too sexy for a prenatal class," she recalls. "I could feel that some of the moms were uncomfortable."

"I see how I made the class more about me than about them," she says.

Choosing Your Colors

The colors that you wear should also reflect modesty and enhance the greatness of your teachings and your own spirit.

Yogi Bhajan taught, "A teacher should look like a sage and a prince or princess of peace and divinity." To achieve this, he recommended that teachers wear white or cream in cotton or natural fabric. White, he said, represents light and magnifies one's aura ten times, while natural fabrics benefit your psyche, energy, and nervous system.

If you wish to be more colorful, play with letting your clothing reflect your inner state and that which you wish to create in your class.

Twee Merrigan, a Prana Flow teacher, turns to rasa, or color therapy, which teaches that earth tones are grounding, blues and whites are cooling, and reds are invigorating.

Whether you choose to dress in white or in color, consider the impact that your purchases have on the environment and on others. Clothing made of natural fibers, like organic cotton and bamboo, not only feel better on your skin but also make a positive impact on the environment. As a role model to your students, what you wear can inspire others to live and dress more consciously.

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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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