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Are Cute Yoga Toes A Must For A Good Yoga Pose? [The rebellion against the "yoga look" has begun!]

Posted Sep 26 2013 1:38am


 See, these ladies love working out in footed jammies! And so can you!

“Cute pedi!,” my neighbor said.

“Thanks! Jelly Bean and I got bored the other day and we painted our nails.” (Which she immediately peeled off even though I’d just spent half an hour hunched over fingernails the size of rabbit pellets. Kids.)

“So fancy! What is that – glitter?”

I wiggled my toes happily in the grass and replied, “Yep! I painted them black and then did a top coat of ‘Jessica Rabbit’!” (It’s a chunky red glitter custom-made by my friend Krissy of Glitter Bombs Away .” Also? Krissy has THE BEST names for her polishes!)


 These are Krissy’s nails. Gorg, no? I have neither the time nor the patience to do this on myself but I admire those who can!

“You going to yoga today?”

“Huh?” It was such a non-sequitur that I was momentarily rendered speechless. While I do love yoga and have taken a few classes at my new gym, I haven’t found anything that I love and (sadly) yoga hasn’t been a very regular part of my life since moving here. Why would she think I was going to yoga?

“You know, since you painted your toes,” my neighbor clarified. She joked, “I mean, you either get a pedi for sandal season or because you’re going to yoga or Pilates, right?”

Ah the yoga pedi! She’s right. It’s a thing.

This time I can honestly say that I painted my toenails because 1) my toenails have been painted so long that I think my feet look alien without polish (seriously I think they’ve been painted one color or another pretty much continuously for the past decade – it’s gotten so bad that I even think other people’s naked toenails look wrong. I’m sorry.) and 2) because you can take the girl out of her Goth high school angst but you can’t take the Goth out of the girl and 3) I’m a magpie – SO SPARKLY!


These are Krissy’s fingers but that’s basically what my toes look like. Except way messier, as if they were done by a 3-year-old. Because they were. 

But I am not going to lie: I have totally painted my nails in the past because I knew I was going to be barefoot on a mat with a good chance that my toes would be in close proximity to someone else’s face. I mean it’s just common courtesy that if someone is presumably staring at your toes whilst holding Warrior III for five breaths, you give them something fun and non-stinky to look at, right?

Of course the point of yoga is to be focused on your own beautiful practice and not aesthetics – yours or anyone else’s. And while it seems like guys have gotten the memo – I’ve never seen more scraggly beards, unwashed pits and holey pants than at a yoga convention – (some) women have seemingly gone the exact opposite direction. Want to know if you’re one of them? Can you say “Lululemon is a yoga lifestyle brand” without laughing?

Seriously though, for a form of exercise – er, “lifestyle” – that’s so pared down to the basics that really the only equipment you need is yourself, it does seem slightly ironic that it’s now considered a necessity by many people to have yoga pants that cost more than a gym membership for a month. And it’s not just yoga or Lululemon. Have you seen how much Zumba pants cost? Or those x-ray Nike leggings? Or all those specialty lines of designer yoga-wear (always with the loud loud prints) that make Lulu look bargain? While nothing in fitness comes cheap, I think the irony is the sharpest when it comes to yoga.

How did this happen? I mean, you guys know me. I LOVE to look cute at the gym. I have a crap ton (that’s metric, right?) of workout clothes. I have tutus in twelve colors. I AM RIDICULOUS. And I know it. But I figure, hey, everyone’s got to have a hobby and if mine is wearing a gold leotard then who am I hurting? Plus, I’m a pretty thrifty girl at heart and the majority of my stuff is second hand. I don’t own a single thing from Lulu except a yellow sweatshirt I got for $3.99 from a thrift store that clearly had no idea what it had. (And also, Lulu is supposed to be like magic for your butt but it doesn’t do a thing for mine. Weirdly, Old Navy capris have been the most flattering!)

But one of the things that has changed since my move here to Colorado is my fitness fashion. It turns out that since most of my workouts these days are solo and/or in the dark outside or in my friend’s basement, I don’t care nearly as much about fitness fashion as I thought I did. These days I stumble out of bed and throw on the first thing I can grab – usually my comfiest black capris and a super soft but wildly unflattering oversized Krav Maga tee (which may already be on since I like to sleep in it too). When I was a gym regular the only time you would have caught me in that outfit was on the worst day of my worst period. But now? Who cares.

And while I still cute-up for Zumba, my new minimalist-for-me attitude has saved me money, stress and time and opened my eyes a bit to the way the clothing has overtaken some of the sports. Since when did it become more credible to simply dress like you did something than to actually do it? At best it’s kinda vain and time consuming. At worst it could be pricing people out of fitness endeavors they might otherwise enjoy and further segregating the haves from the have-nots. (Remember the #1 factor correlated with obesity ? Income level.) Ladies who Yoga have become the millenial version of Ladies who Lunch. And I’m not the only one noticing this. Bring on the revolution.


Recently Yoga Dork posted her “Yoga Fashion Liberation Manifesto” under the post title “ This Yogini is Mad as Hell About Yoga Fashion and She’s Not Going to Take it Anymore “. While her post is mostly tongue-in-cheek, I found myself nodding as often as laughing. See how many ring true for you:

  • I will not wear yoga pants that cost more than a week of groceries.
  • I will not subject my body to a yoga thong.
  • I will not worry about my underwear showing.
  • I will not care about my underarm stains, nor will I care about the underarm stains left over on the shirt from last week.
  • I will not paint my toenails just because I want the guru to like me.
  • I will not care whether the guru thinks I’m pretty.
  • I will not care whether the other girls in the class think I’m pretty. Yoga is not high school.
  • I will not style my hair just for yoga.
  • I will not buy special clothes just for yoga.
  • I will most certainly not buy special clothes that are supposed to help me find enlightenment. No one has ever found enlightenment from a T-shirt. Not even one with a really good shelf bra.
  • I will pair my J.C. Penney exercise pants with an old shirt I got when my kids went to the state math contest in 2011, and I will not care. Math is cool. [Charlotte's note: JC Penney is HUGELY underrated for workout gear. I've loved their stuff for years. It's cute, lasts forever and is super affordable. Also, math IS cool.]
  • I will, if I need to, practice the Ashtanga Primary Series in a pair of pink pajamas with kitties printed on them.

This one – ” I will not buy special clothes for yoga” – really stuck out to me. I’ve been brainwashed to believe that I do need special yoga clothes (and special running clothes and special Zumba clothes and…). We’ve all heard the spiel about special wicking fabrics with made-up tech-y sounding names and attributes like “3-way stretch” and “anti-odor control” but the truth is that for most activities you probably could do just fine in your jammies. (Once on a vacation I forgot my running clothes and went for a jog in my billowy pajama pants and t-shirt and was amazed to find that it impeded me not even a little bit. I felt like an extra in a horror movie as I crashed through a corn field but the mechanics of running weren’t hindered at all by unconventional attire. Plus, anyone who’s ever done a race in a crazy costume will tell you that you can run just fine in a lot of weird stuff.)

I’m not going to argue that certain elements of fashion can’t make yoga (or whatever) easier. A sports bra is a necessity. Bike shorts are genius, frankly. And nobody wants to freestyle 800m in their flannel nightie. I’m also not going to say that it’s wrong to want to look cute. Every time I write about this I usually have a few people comment that they wear whatever they like and don’t give two shakes of a donkey’s tail what other people think about them. Which I think is awesome! I wish I were that way too. But I’m not. I do care what people think of me and no matter how hard I try it’s not as simple as flipping a “don’t care” switch. There’s a reason that so many articles tell you to buy some cute, well-fitting clothes for the gym – looking good can be its own motivation!

But there’s a line here – somewhere between caring too much and too little – and I’m not sure where exactly it falls for me. Except that painting my toes for yoga is on that side and my super soft Krav tee is on this side. I’m wearing it now.

What’s your opinion – has fitness fashion overtaken its original functional purpose? Do you feel like you need “special” clothes for different activities? Have you ever forgotten your clothes and had to improv with what you had on? And because I’m curious – anyone else think that naked toenails look kind of weird? Or am I just neurotic?


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