Recently some of my yoga colleagues were on a retreat in Bali where amongst other more important yogic studies there was an outbreak of group bloomer wearing. Back here in freezing Sydney those of us who were left behind were updated with a photo showing a chorus line of yoginis donning their matching hand crafted in Bali bloomers and one even confessed she finally gave in to wearing a pair for the first time. And you know what, that’s precisely what we are going to topic today – the iyengar bloomer club.
And this club is not exclusively a women’s club, oh no. Let’s now unpack.
The humble bloomer was first worn beneath the saris of women in India and some of these women wanted to attend yoga classes with a certain degree of modesty and freedom.
I’m fairly sure it was Geeta Iyengar who made bloomer wearing the symbol of the serious female sadhana. She wore, a lot of the time, roomy green ones and a tucked in polo shirt. Yes that is her in the photo below. Nothing fancy, but serious. If you visited the Iyengar Institute in Pune it was probably in your best interest to go straight to MG road and buy several pairs, or who knows what would have resulted.
The fact is that you can preform all manner of asana without worrying about any outline or exposure of your private parts or roll back or roll up from lycra shorts and this is important in yoga classes, particularly in India where modesty is one part of the practice path, comfort another plus, they are light and cool to wear.
And although Mr Iyengar himself was actually never seen in a pair, (do correct me if I’m wrong) the western blokes soon caught on to the advantages and idea of gusseted legs and men in India and the west started wearing them too.
Back at The Yoga Centre, then in Mosman, Sydney my teacher had a pair in practically every colour. And as she was a serious student of the Iyengar’s this was a kind of symbol of dedication, in a sort of unspoken way, to our fledgling Iyengar yoga community back then. Not to mention that she [still] wears them particularly well.
Fast forward to the new millennium when masses in the west had started flocking to yoga classes where it became a thing that if you were serious and committed to the high standards of your now trending yoga studio or linage then why not invest in the gear to match.
Yoga teachers started noticing a new ‘cult’ of Lululemon arriving in their classes from yoga leggings, mats, hoodies making the humble bloomer go into a recession for some time. And those of us who were quite happy wearing bloomers or for winter, tights from Target or at best Nike started to think hard about some serious personal rebranding into what was now becoming the ‘club of yoga’ attire.
I was in Portland, Oregon back in 2002, around the time when Lululemon was first rolling out flagship stores in the US. I was keen to see anything but the usual sports gear on offer for yoga, or bloomers for that matter. I found LL to stock impressive wicking fabrics, cool designs that made my legs and general form look sort of, well, cool. The logo spoke to my inner yogic balance. Sold.
Of course trends are cyclic and now finally, and fondly, we are seeing the rebirth of the humble bloomer. With sites like for example Etsy practitioners and teachers alike can now find just about any kind of bloomer and that is the game changer if you can’t get to Pune or Bali, or get a friend to bring a pair back for $5 a pop.
These days, back in my Sydney wardrobe, collections of Bali and Pune bloomers usually only get fished out for mid summer intensives or when I go up to Bali on Retreat. Some refuse to ever wear them, others are avid followers.
Recent reports from fellow yoga friend who swanned into class the other day wearing an actual authentic pair of Pune bloomers, discussed the merits of their authenticity and she was right. They were a great fit and with all the hallmarks of pure Indian cotton and stitch tension. Proper Pune bloomers.
What ever you wear to yoga, you will always be transformed away from what is on the outside but on the inside bloomers hold a special place in our [Iyengar] yoga hearts.
Suzi Chin Silicz is an Iyengar Yoga teacher from Sydney, Australia and a periodic bloomer, Target and Lululemon wearer.