- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 15, 2005

The comfort and ease of movement that make yoga clothes great for posing in a class also make them ideal for running around town. The same organic cotton boot-leg pants that flatter muscle lines in the tree pose are equally flattering pretty much everywhere else a casual day might take you.

“My favorite yoga pants have become the equivalent of my favorite pair of jeans,” says Debra Perlson-Mishalove, owner of Flow Yoga Center near Logan Circle in Northwest. “I think we started seeing yoga clothes everywhere when they began to be boot-cut. That cut is more flattering than tapered leggings.”

About 16.5 million Americans practiced yoga in 2004, says Dayna Macy, spokeswoman for Yoga Journal magazine. That is a 43 percent increase from 2002.

Those yogis — both budding and experienced — spend about $27 billion on products annually. That is a lot of mats and blocks as well as organic cotton pants and tank tops imprinted with wisdom.

Bonnie Choruby is senior vice president for Lucy (www.lucy.com), an active wear catalog company that opened two Washington-area stores this month. At Lucy, yoga gear falls into the “balance” category of clothes — items that work in many facets of life.

Among the most popular items at Lucy: the perfect crop pants ($38). They are cotton and Lycra jersey with a drawstring waist perfect for the pose “downward dog or walking the dog,” the catalog says.

“Balance is one of our biggest, fast-growing categories,” Ms. Choruby says. “The clothes are definitely attractive and relative to our busy lives. I love that concept. You can wear them to yoga, but also to school and to work, depending on where you work.”

Christine Davis is a Washington massage therapist and yoga instructor. Among her favorite clothes are a pair of green velour tie-dyed cropped pants.

“I wear them everywhere,” she says.

Ms. Perlson-Mishalove’s favorite pants are from Be Present, a small Colorado company. The cropped pants are slit at the bottom to provide even greater ease of movement. They are made of a lightweight, quick-drying material.

Ms. Perlson-Mishalove carries the pants in the small boutique at the Flow studio. They always sell out quickly, she says.

Jon Dobrin, founder with his wife, Amy, of Be Present, says their vision when they began designing and selling the clothes in 2002 was to make “functional” clothes for yoga class and elsewhere.

“So often, people wore sweat pants to class, but they didn’t want to go out looking like that afterward,” Mr. Dobrin says.

Mr. Dobrin and others in the yoga industry suspect that many people buying yoga wear don’t even practice yoga. Wearing yoga clothes means you embrace a lifestyle — one that promotes peace, health and serenity.

“Yoga is a lifestyle,” Mr. Dobrin says. “It is something we do on the mat, but it is also how you walk through life.”

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