What to Wear

A case for wearing shorts

Credit: kinoyoga.com

Credit: kinoyoga.com

A couple weeks ago, I read an article posted on Elephant Journal by Kino MacGregor, titled Confessions of a Loved & Hated Ashtangi. I have been pretty oblivious to why yogis love or hate her up until this article. One of the criticisms she receives is her choice of wardrobe, namely the short shorts.

This part of the article addressing her choice to wear shorts was pretty provocative to me:

I figured out long ago that if I wore pants, I would use friction instead of core strength, and that no men were wearing tights to hold themselves up in the challenging arm balances. So I made a conscious choice to wear shorts even though I slipped and fell off my arms for years.

I am not a fashionable person by any means (I can rock a scarf though!), so I assume when people wear shorts to yoga, it’s to stay cool during a heated or hot practice. I’ve never thought of yoga pants as a crutch to hold or stay in a posture longer.

Maybe Kino’s on to something. Maybe pants are a form of cheating by using your body sweat to create a cloth surface with more friction. When I used to use a towel over my mat, I needed to spray it down with water before practice so I wouldn’t slip. This is starting to make sense.

From a muscular standpoint, I remember having a lot of trouble with tree pose in the beginning. If my pants were dry, my foot would slip right off my calf or thigh. So I rolled my pants up to be able to grip skin to skin. Again, I used friction alone to stay in the posture. As I got stronger and my balance got better, I found I relied less on getting a grip with my foot against my flesh and more on grounding in my standing leg and pressing in my heel of the bent leg. It was active, and it was strong.

Now, I try to imagine doing ashtanga in all my sweaty glory without pants to wipe my hands on. My arms glisten and drip by the end, so I can only imagine that my legs get equally as slick. If I have to rely on muscle and alignment alone, I may be flopping all over my mat. This sounds like a challenge worth trying. I don’t know if I have any suitable shorts that won’t ride up with as many forward bends as we do, but I’ll look into it.

So what do y’all think? Pants vs shorts. Is Kino on to something?

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8 Comments

  1. Anytime I have worn shorts it is due to heat. But like you, whenever I do tree pose I pull up my pant leg. I never made the connection before but I will definitely think about it now!

    • Terri says

      i need to find some suitable shorts for this challenge. all of mine are cotton, which is good for nothing more than lounging around the house. they would be sopping by the time i got done! let me know if you try it out and how it goes.

  2. I practice in Bermuda – so, unless I’m in a room with AC, its fairly easy to become sweaty. I remember once conciously making the decision to wear leggings the next time so that I could stay in crow. I never considered it ‘cheating’ until I read Kino’s article. So enlightening!

    • Terri says

      who knew clothing could be used as a “prop” in yoga, right? her insight was definitely enlightening.

  3. Sat Inder S. Khalsa says

    My legs never sweat, never. only my torso and forehead, sometimes in the summer my arms. A little sweat creates enough stickiness to help, but with jone my dry skin slides. Even so I don’t wear any clothes to practice in!

  4. Josie says

    Clothes are definitely a prop. When I transitioned to a yoga studio with a focus on arm balances and inversions, I stopped using shorts, and use only below-the-knee capris and long tights. I don’t care if it’s cheating, sweat slippage on top of the challenge of the poses is just too frustrating.

    A tip – avoiding fabric softener, and air drying your yoga pants will make them more grippy.

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