Tag Archives: Lululemon

Do These Pants Make My Ass Look Fat?

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Caution: This material contains some judgment.

The CEO of Lululemon sportswear attire aligned his company with the yoga community years ago in a successful effort to corner the yoga apparel market. The society of yogis fell prey to the promise of promotion, free swag and membership to an elite community; their own, as re-gifted to them by the long arm of  a clothing chain with Mafioso chutzpah.

Lululemon has been cited for one questionable act after another but if the yoga public flinched it didn’t show in sales records; not until the company made a pair of yoga pants that woman complained were too sheer.  And CEO/founder Chip Wilson countered that their fat thighs were responsible for burning those threads bare. Not his fault; they were not his targeted clientele. You know, not everyone looks good in his yoga pants.

He’s right and not every company caters to every body.  It’s the only thing I’ve heard him be right about since his company starting getting bad press but that’s what took him down. Don’t fuck with women’s self image. We are too insecure to handle that. Take advantage of Chinese workers. Brainwash and manipulate your employees. Just don’t say that our asses are too fat. That is our moral breaking point. That is our moral outrage.

I’ve said my piece about this company long ago. I don’t give a rat’s ass what they do with their bad luck upside down horseshoe branded clothing. That’s how this country’s commerce works. You do what you can to make a buck and let the buyer beware.  Lulu was deep in the drink by the time they came to Nashville. I’d never heard of them but it didn’t take long to see they weren’t “yoga people” (whatever that means now) but people selling pants; period.  And they knew how to work a system that was increasingly commercialized and dependent on its own sales.

I was under the impression that most folks don’t know anything about Lululemon’s policies although it’s probable that anyone on the yoga blogosphere does. I didn’t see the company’s stock plummet when the internet was alive and aghast with the underpinnings of the company’s philosophy; survival of the fittest and no tears for the losers, the CEO’s outspoken defense of employing Asian children at a pittance or his delight in creating a name for a company that would sound funny when Asians tried to pronounce it. How many folks quit wearing the clothes or detached themselves as ambassadors when they discovered that the company’s staff training extended into their personal lives? And will the yogis aligned with the company bail because of a fat ass attack where a manipulative people baiting money making machine was not reason before?

The attempt to blame shoddy workmanship on the consumer was stupid. Chip Wilson is smart enough to be a millionaire entrepreneur but it took a clueless pot shot at women’s bodies to show that he is nothing more than a guy with an opinion that most guys know not to share. Any guy who’s known a woman knows if a woman asks: “Do these pants make my ass look fat?” the answer is no.

Is it possible that people who knew the company was un-cool turned their heads until insulted by the implication that their bodies weren’t hot enough to turn someone else’s?

Why are we undone by some pants maker’s opinion?  Surely clothing designers everywhere have these conversations behind closed doors.  Did Lululemon so successfully run a clothing sale campaign that we believed they were an entity interested in our well being, not just our attire?  And why the indignation when it comes to our looks more than indignation about a company that inserts itself into the local chapters of our business?

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What Will I Do With This Awareness?

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In this season of silver grass and sharp light I reflect on the shadows that do not reflect but absorb light.

I am a yogi, a yoga teacher, a teacher of clarity; of awareness sustained, of purpose defined and attitude checked.

Yoga teacher:  One who shines light?

Light shone at light makes a blind spot. There assumption may ripen.  Shine light at darkness to reveal what was not there before.

Embrace the yogi who points to the darkness. Do not tell her about the poverty of negative thinking or that her vision reflects her soul. She calls attention to the unattended which even if born of light is not always bathed in it but sometimes hidden in shadow.

And what will I, the yoga teacher, shedder of light, do with my own awareness?

Will I find happiness or comfort? Will I be better off?

As the day dawns on another threat of a government shutdown I ponder the little project I just signed on for; teaching a tiny segment at an event to bring yoga to the warring tribes of Africa.  The video that persuaded me to participate indicates that yoga has had a positive effect on a few thousand people and the hope is that it will enhance the opportunity for peace. I see no harm in it but I wonder at yoga’s effects on our own warring nation.  In fact I see that Lululemon seems to have some part in promoting this event, a business known more for the havoc it wreaks than any humanitarian bent.  And indeed I am aware that some yoga community politics are in play even here.

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The fragmented tear sheet of harmony amongst us is a scrapbook that sits on the shelf of hard covered hard edged, dusty tomes that set the tone of both our doing and undoing despite our best intentions. Still, we cannot stop doing. It is what we are.

That is why yoga has begun an evolution as a social service for the at risk and less fortunate who are more than the churches can handle, more than the families can handle while the government; an overwhelmed, ungainly lumbering beast rumbles through the mist trampling delicate underlings in its myopia.  It is a noble thing to help others find peace.

Here’s a news clip that shows a line of very overweight people waiting for free food boxes. The correspondent reveals “all sorts of things to keep a family going: donuts, pancake mix, white rice, pasta, commercial peanut butter and mayonnaise”.

We are unevenly informed even if we share a heart. Our perceptions are different even when we are evenly informed. We are a diverse, disparate people. We will not storm the gates together. Our greatest cohesiveness is majority vote. Cohesion is a patchwork quilt of mismatched swatches.

If awareness is turned inward so that we might discern what to let in and what not to let in, will the world wait for us? How many invitations to save the world, how many pleas, invitations, how many e-mails, texts, tutorials will wait as we contemplate?  Eyes and ears tuned to beauty, love and light will give respite though we cannot remain there without pause or interruption.

1694 Golden Grass by Rob Lindsay

I am teaching a class at Vanderbilt. People are losing their jobs en masse. We share our thoughts about why, when and who.  Extending the conversation from the astonishing to the absurd, one of my students evenly says, “My new yoga mat can cause cancer”. The room of scientists, researchers and medical professionals are aghast.

She hands me the cardboard wrapper from the yoga mat bought at Wal-Mart. The label says; this product contains one or more chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm.

The mat is named “Lotus”.

I think back to a sign I saw posted outside the walls of the new age/yoga Chopra Center in Carlsbad last month. Chemicals used in this facility have been known to cause cancer, birth defects…….

My cancer causing mat owning student says she was born in the 70’s and purposefully stays there. She lives in the country, listens to old rock and does not watch the news. She describes herself as a woman of faith who keeps her eye and mind on the good words of the good book. She says nothing about returning the cancerous yoga mat she is lying on. She picks the battles she feels she can win.

I asked my students what yoga does for them. I want to know if the work has the desired effect of creating awareness and if heightened senses bring peace or agitation. They tell me that they come to class frazzled and leave refreshed; that yoga helps them manage stress more efficiently for about 24 hours.  Then they do it again. I think of a friend who has just confided that she’s taken a pill every day for 10 years to keep her positive. She’s afraid to go off.

We are so aware that we can’t handle all that confronts us. Nothing in this life will let us go back to sleep. Is yoga a break, a temporary fix with a cumulative effect? Perhaps that is enough. But as the yoga teacher, it is not a break but a constant call to awareness that has no filter.

Cheekwood optic fiber cotton candy Bruce Monroe by Rob Lindsay

I am driving from one job to another and traffic is not on my side. I finally get around the driver with a handicapped badge on his rear view mirror who drove with infuriating exactitude 10 mph below the speed limit. I have reflexively unwrapped the chocolate bar I’d stashed for the infusion I’ll need three hours from now. It’s still early in the morning.

I look at the old gentleman beside me in his upscale car and careful attire, well groomed hair. I imagine him a native to this once sleepy Southern town; a man who has deep roots while all around him is changing as immigrants like me have changed his home. I imagine him gracious about that, generous in his acknowledgement of the good that has come with the traffic, crime and bad manners.

I see a picture from my childhood; a picture that is a feeling collage more than one image. I am relaxed. Life is good in my 50s middle class world. There is slowness.  There is quietude. There are friends and there is time and there is a wide open empty highway in the darkness that two headlights pursue in sureness toward a promising destination. It is gone. Maybe it was never there.

 

What will I do with this awareness? Will I live like a prisoner making paper dolls? Will I storm the prison walls?  Or will I expand my revelation that silver grass in light sharpened by a darkened  sky  is the field of all of us.  I choose always to be reborn by this temporal  beauty as the mud beneath and the sky above will shift and shift again.

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Filed under American culture, Buddhism, meditation, nature, new age enlightenment, poetry, politcal action, social action, social commentary, yoga, yoga and politics, yoga practice, yoga teaching, yoga wisdom

The Pants Seller’s Circus; A Fairy Tale

The Pants Seller’s Circus

  A Fairy Tale

written in 2010;  the author was inspired by Lululemon and  the fiefdom of ambassadors

Long ago and far away a small group of sages designed a system of actions (SOA) that might save people from themselves. They called it yoga but that name had since been forgotten.

SOA lasted throughout time in a quiet fashion amongst a small group of people and it was too small a group to change the world but then the SOA spread to the land of America. Like all things in America it took root and prospered.

In SOA this was written: Do no harm, do not steal, do not covet, do not lie and do not overextend yourself as to make yourself self righteous or make others weak.  They called this part the first Limb with five branches and it was the first step towards the beautiful universe. This step had to be built to gain access to the next step or the next step would crumple.

A group of hawkers got hold of the system.  They were part of a universal tribe of hawkers who made a living by selling goods all over the world.   The hawkers came to each village and sought out the most influential and successful entrepreneurs of the SOA and knighted them. Those who were knighted were given gifts of gold and promises of glory in return for advertising the hawker’s wares. They became corrupted and shills for the hawker industry.  And the hawkers sang the leaders praises while selling high ticket gear that appealed to the leader’s people.

SOA had eight limbs all together which were intertwined with one another. Step by step, limb by limb, the devout could move from the outer to the inner realm.  But if one step was missing, one had to go back because no one could stand on the next step without sinking if the one before was missing.  The steps were not just steps. They were actions that took one from the gross to the subtle. Like a wooden Russian doll with smaller and smaller dolls inside it, one had to uncover the surface to attain the doll beneath. The last limb, the last little Russian doll was called Bliss. Everyone wanted to get to it. Some were in a hurry.

There were some priests and priestesses among the leaders and their flocks who feigned knowledge of Bliss at the center of the system. They spoke quietly or in song cloaked in shawls and turbans. They did not have the patience to step limb by limb. They were desperate to have Bliss right away. They spoke knowingly of Bliss and the virtuous path to Bliss but they had bored a hole in the outer shells, in the outer limbs and crawled into the belly of Bliss like fruit flies and there hid out laying waste to all the outer layers that became porous as rotting wood.

The knighted leaders of SOA were lost souls.  Their attraction to it was fragile, born of a love of attention and an attraction to power.  They disseminated the SOA for their own means and they did not live by it. They fought amongst themselves and it was even whispered that a photograph was taken where they lined up with arms around each other striking a pose like hapless Rockettes but had knives to each other’s backs like Brutus to Caesar.

To get to the second Limb of five branches the people had to answer questions: Do I feel  pure of heart, do I have a desire to press on, do I have a desire to learn, am I ready to confront myself, am I capable of acceptance? It was easy to answer yes because they were delusional but it was the third Limb that kept the leaders’ purses full.

It was the third Limb that the hawkers could market to. It was the body. The body needed gear. The body had a mind and the mind could be manipulated. Though the human form might follow the thought of the first limb and the second limb it didn’t have to. All one could really see was the form itself. No one would know the difference.

SOA was in danger. Co-opted by the hawkers it would live on as an accessory to the high priced gear.  All the hawkers needed were its name and its form.

Seers and sages cloaked in the garb of modern folk started leaving the cities.  The planet was in danger. It was used up and angry. The cities were claustrophobic with frightened people who had lost their purpose. The seers went forth seeking space to focus on ways to sustain and replenish the earth and waters. They went to the mountains and plains to make peace with the planet. They carried SOA in their hearts. They carried the books and their notes and journals and they lived like Renunciates honing their skills of intuition tuning their minds to love.

Left behind were still hundreds of teachers who were also students of the SOA. The people didn’t notice them easily as their spirits were cloaked in such a way as to make them invisible except to those who sought them out.  Some say their vision was clearer in the shadows away from the glare of celebrity and fortune but I for one know that glare does not eclipse anything except in the eye of the beholder or judges. One can do both.

Life began to slowly change because jobs were scarce and money was more precious and the people began to appreciate that life could be good without so much stuff but the economy was predicated on buying stuff and it began to fail.  The leaders of the SOA were affected too and although they still had power and some fortune, it was dwindling. The leaders began to notice that the people were getting weary of the leader’s swagger and bored by the hawkers’ gear. The leaders began to fight amongst themselves. America’s success was predicated on selling systems and gear. There were the Great Marketing Wars. SOA was renamed and repackaged in hundreds of ways all over the country and much of the free market got involved to support that with gear and cheap labor and materials. There was no other way.  The people were distracted and anxious. They had so many choices and so much to buy.  Meanwhile the country was being decimated, torn to pieces by partisanship. SOA was just part of the chain of partisanship that was running through the desperate country.

The people supported the hawkers of every system whose advertising assured them of their inadequacies. They could benefit from the hawker’s wares.  They could benefit from the system of religion. They could benefit from SOA.  The people were insecure, broke, and emotionally bankrupt and the wars waged on exhausting their resources ever more.

Not the end: Just the beginning.

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Filed under allegory, cultism, fable, new age enlightenment, satire, social commentary, yoga, yoga and politics

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There are laments about the yoga community. I have read ample examples of ill winded posturing and spoken about them, too. Lately the topic is what are we wearing and who we are buying it from. How we  are  further defined by sex and politics and certifications and styles is ever present.  There is much to rail against and thankfully there are those who take up the mantle. Apathy is mine too often.  I love to be pleasantly surprised by something.   I look to the torch carriers to hold the light that can’t go out. We are too many in the dark.

But I wonder if the vast landscape of humanity is not telling enough. Why are we surprised? Aren’t people who do yoga just people doing yoga? That is not the same thing as a yogi who holds a job and buys a house and has kids. And who says a yogi is pure, anyway?

If yoga becomes a discipline for the masses why wouldn’t we expect it to come with a pair of pants and a matching tank top! But isn’t it better that watered down yoga washes over us than to not know it at all?  Yoga used to be the domain of the wanderers. All things come with a price. But there are ways around it. There are choices.

Don’t be surprised by the choices people make. We do not want control as much as we want convenience. If a factory that makes yoga props or clothing employs children we will say, but how do I know who is employed by the other factories? How do I know that this is any better? If a yoga studio is suspicious but it is in my neighborhood, it is the lesser evil to stay close to home anyway. And if there is a coffee shop nearby, even better. It’s so easy. It’s so convenient. I’m so busy.

And we are so expansive. How can we condone anything evil when there is also so much that is positive? We must take into account the good things and forgive the bad.  God forbid we take a stand! That is rigid. We are flexible.

Who has the strength to go against the tide? See what we want: Order. Look at the outlaws and rebel Occupiers making up language and laws and code. Watch the enforcement, the first step, order.  Yoga for the masses meant codes too. Read the basic code of restraints and observances. We have always been the same. Restrain us. We run rampant with desire.

But if all yoga classes were a forum of discussion for the codes and ethics there would still be disagreements. All would interpret in isolation of self. This is a self serving society. This yoga is not exempt but part of it. Don’t you see? It’s been integrated, conditioned and reclaimed.

If we believe we need to be beautiful to be lovable why does it stop at yoga’s door? If we believe we need to be successful, why would it stop at yoga’s door?  If we believe we have to be sexy why would it stop at yoga’s door, if we believe we can get away with something anywhere, why would that thinking stop at yoga’s door.

I was naive once. I thought it stopped at yoga’s door because yoga was pristine and therefore those who handled it were accountable to be worthy.  And they are; if it’s convenient. There are choices but they are harder and harder to make.

Yogis are not drop outs. Yogis are goal oriented like everyone else. Yogis want to be admired like everyone else. Yogis want to make money. Yoga does not exist in a bubble. Look at the environment and look at your yoga. Isn’t there commonality?

This country’s leaders have made it easy to be self serving by example. You do what you want and fall upon your knees at the public viewings claiming your human weaknesses before God, repenting, telling how God forgives all. And if God forgives, we must follow his lead.  Now we may regularly lie, steal, whore, whatever because we know we are just mortal and that God and our fellow mortals in his image love us anyway.

Light bearers and bards, keep talking.  There are people who hear you. They may or may not be yogis. But that does not matter. We are all the same.

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