INITIALLY I THINK THE WOMAN in downward dog on the other side of the yoga studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is wearing a type of surgical glove — the kind worn by nurses and meth lab workers. Curious, I pretend to need another support block so I can walk by her to get a closer look.
I see she is wearing a Thriller-era Michael Jackson glove. One sparkling silver glove. I thought perhaps she was covering hideous burn scars or a prothsesis gone wrong. After class she takes her MJ glove off revealing a perfect little hand, just like her other one.
My next New York yoga experience happens in the South Bronx. My other choices of class were Street Brawling Bronx Style and How To Tolerate a Red Sox Fan.
The instructor’s name is Joey. She wears a florescent yellow unitard, wooden hoop earrings, and hot pink toenails as she guides us through Half Lord of the Fishes. Afterwards Joey lights a smoke, changes into faded jeans, burgundy leather biker jacket, and black riding boots, and then speeds away on a vintage Raleigh 10-speed.
In fact, in most of the New York area yoga classes I took, very few people left wearing what they contorted and sweated in.
This is not the case in my hometown of Vancouver. There the de rigueur yoga attire is lululemon Athletica, in which no one is ashamed to parade around in public. Personally, I feel squeamish if I’m seen wearing flared men’s yoga tights between the gym and the 30 feet it takes to get to my car in the underground parking. But many others do not share my overly conscious sense of Brooklyn fashion.
In Vancouver, people proudly sport lululemons as acceptable anytime fashion, from protest marches to job interviews to dinner dates. Does this make Vancouver more carefree than Brooklyn? Maybe. Does Williamsburg care more about maintaining its sense of vogue? Yes. Can the South Bronx kick Vancouver’s ass in an after-school fight? Probably.