My name is Uschi, and I have spent the last 2 years connecting with womens’ empowerment communities in Varanasi, India. I am working to launch a clothing line that showcases the hand craft skills of women artisans on garments shaped in classic style, with a flattering shape and comfortable fit.
This journey has been a discovery into the hopes we share as women. Despite differences in Culture, we are seeking the same recognition, value, and love for our creativity-be it internal, or external.
After years working in the retail division of a high fashion company, I returned to Ojai to look deeper into what had been hinted to me for my life thus far. I began teaching Yoga at Lulu Bandha’s, where I found roots for my creativity to thrive.
During an educational journey to India in 2007 as co-leader of 11 teenage students, I first met the women who I am now working with. At this time their collective was just beginning-their first 10 members sewing in the courtyard of a barn. I was so inspired by them.
Upon my arrival in the States, I decided I needed to return and explore the potential I sensed through combining our skills, and defying the limitations of culture and language.
The women with whom I am connecting are incredibly brave souls. Each is a pioneer in her community, attempting to create a shift in consciousness. This will empower her through literacy, and independent means of income.
By honoring womens’ skills through continued production development, we are nourishing the growth of their self-value. Our ability to provide a means for this growth is an opportunity for us to nourish our own.
My intentions have grown through my fluency in their language and culture.
In the winter of 2009 I took on the role of directing their programs of production and education. This is an incredibly challenging position, where I communicate in predominately Hindi, and am confronted with huge cultural challenges and differences. I find myself driven into this work with such intense strength, I am inspired to meet these challenges, for they are fundamental to what I am building.
My hope is to continue to spread the word and facilitate work for the collective I am building.
I hope you’ll be inspired to take a closer look and keep in touch.
These beautiful pieces are available to pre-order. Each one is lovingly hand-crafted and a little bit unique from the finest silks and hand embroidered cottons. View the collection and you can order here.
You can download Yoga music here
Our mission with our clothing is to never create a boring design that unfortunately is all too common out there in the yoga/’spiritual’ world. Chakra tees… yawn! Uplifting phrases by themselves in a cute font…BORING! (and a prime example of lazy design.) With this collection we are inspired by people finally waking up on a mass scale. Sure, it took a major economic global contraction caused by major greed and misinformation. The debt mindset that somehow is rewarded in American society and how we do business. We could go on. But lets talk about the clothes themselves. They are in a word, ‘killer’. We have dresses this season that are beautiful and fluid and yes, sexy in supple bamboo and organic cotton. (The Kimberly Racer Tank Dress) A new style of tank top that not only shows off your back and shoulders with elegance but brings joy and a smile with the front and back graphics. (The Nadine Tuck Tank) Plus a cute, slouchy jacket that will make you want to crop off your hair so you can be like Jean Seberg in ‘Breathless’. (The Martine Jacket)
I see most people walking around realizing only a fraction of their potential, like partially opened flower buds. So with what is going on right now, people are being called on to evolve on all levels. The fresh, jewel like colors and smooth, supple textures of organic pima cotton and bamboo reminded us of flower petals.
As we are a graphically driven line, we’re always on the look-out for inspiration in language. Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Yoga master,who came to the West in the early ’70’s, was one of the great teachers who really saw what was going on with the West’s hunger for meaning and experience outside of ‘normal’ experience. He had a list of phrases called ‘Sutras for the Aquarian Age’. The ones that we used are:
‘The Other Person is You’, ‘Vibrate the Cosmos, The Cosmos Shall Clear the Path’, Understand Through Compassion or You Will Misunderstand the Times’.
Why? These felt like the most resonant for what is going on right now.
We also got creative for the back prints on our shirts. The Sikhs have a sacred text called the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, which is like a long, beautiful, powerful poem. Each verse invokes an emotional response when chanted or read. The ones we loved were ‘One Universal Creator, the name is Truth’, ‘Image of the Undying, Beyond Birth Self Existent’ (which is on the back of our Chicano art inspired Black Lotus Tank) and ‘See the Brotherhood of all mankind as the highest order of Yogis. Conquer your own mind and you shall conquer the World’ (on the back of our ‘The Other Person is You’ Tee. Even when I write this I get a shiver from that last one as it is so frickin’ true.
So, there you have it. Truth is, we only have tiny quantities of each of these new things and you do not want to miss out. See you on the path and thanks for sharing it with us. We are on this path together, my friends.
You can download Yoga music here
Our world in the early 21st century has become less and less compartmentalized. As we have become more multi-dimensional in our lives, we demand the same things we use on a daily basis to become more versatile. For example, who just has a cell phone anymore? At the very least, it is a camera, alarm clock and personal music player. You can even accessorize it for heaven’s sake! More and more we’re also demanding the same thing from our wardrobes. Here are five ways to maximize your yoga/activewear pieces outside of class:
1. Look For Natural Fabrics Wherever Possible
Nothing screams “I’m just about to go to the gym!” more than wearing something made out of a wicking fabric. Natural cotton pants in particular, with the right weight fabric and cut can look elegant and put together with the right shoes and top.
2. Choose Functional Yet Fun Pieces To Dress Up Or Down
Pieces that have unusual scale such as a longer hooded jacket, add pizzazz to any outfit and are useful to stretch out your wardrobe when you don’t have time to change from A to B.
3. Layer Color
It looks cute to have a little color showing underneath something such as a practice bra or top with feminine detailing peaking out beneath a ribbed tank top or scoop-necked T. Perfect for lunch with friends and then as a workout outfit later in the day.
4. Wear Denim
This may seem obvious, but it is all to easy to get into the habit of constantly wearing workout clothes if you lead an active lifestyle and don’t have to go into an office everyday. For a more put together look, try putting on a pair of jeans with a practice tank or bra under a ribbed tank or scoop necked T. Or a denim jacket over a practice tank. Paired with a flowing skirt and flats or a pair of leggings and shorter skirt over the top, you can make a quick transition with effortless style.
5. Avoid Large Logos
Unless you are wearing something over the top in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, this is to be avoided. Who wants to be a walking billboard for a faceless corporation? They should be paying you to wear their garments, not the other way around! Seriously something that is sporty yet elegant is the most versatile and normally means something subtly branded or no visible logo.
You can download Yoga music here
Some fashion from that time has endured and became reworked in later decades. But even now there is an undeniable “cringe factor” with the words “Hippie Fashion”. It’s a shame that with a flowering of consciousness, there seems to be a corresponding disappearance of stylishness.
It’s more fashionable for designers to be concerned with decay, darkness and nihilism than to embrace love, awareness and acceptance. Note also the incredible pressure people in the fashion world have to be thin and impeccably chic at all times! (That’s a shout-out to you, Karl Lagerfeld!)
On the other hand, who has not seen (and secretly wishes they hadn’t) the individuals who’ve found ‘enlightenment’ and are now wearing whatever they please? Washed-out, shapeless kafkans accessorized with the de riguer mala beads and other assorted items? Or a T-Shirt with yet another chakra graphic?
Clothing in the yoga/spiritual world is generally pretty boring. It is no wonder that in this age where spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation, Buddhism, etc. have become mainstream, the young, the cool and the influential would rather wear something anarchic or ironic instead of something that actually means something.
Perhaps there is no quick fix in sight. But the times are changing rapidly. Economies are contracting and the old practices and ways of relating are failing. There will be another re-emergence of heightened consciousness. It will shake the foundations of human culture. And the girl wearing her “Self is the Guru” T-shirt with her skinny jeans and Louboutin heels will be ready.
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Looking back at my sporting goods shopping habits, I’m convinced that my need to buy equipment and apparel has been my way of committing myself to a new sport. In other words, the more I buy, the more committed I am to getting better at the sport.
Take for example the time I decided I was going to take up running. Not only was I going to learn how to run around the block without getting winded, but I was going to train to run a marathon. My first investment was a pair of good running shoes, purchased from a reputable running shoe store. The salesperson made me run around in various shoe models, and when we agreed we had found the perfect pair, I handed over my credit card and he handed me my shoes. I was now an honest-to-goodness runner and had the shoes to prove it.
Then I started accumulating running clothes. First it was a basic pair of shorts, a singlet, and some sweat-wicking socks. Sensible stuff. Then I started “rewarding” myself whenever I’d sign up to run a race; I’d buy coordinating tops and bottoms, thinking that if I looked good, I’d probably run good, too. Eventually, as I traveled around the country to run marathons, I found I needed more stuff. Energy gels, water carriers, and anti-blister goop when I had to go the distance. Tights, long-sleeved shirts, jackets, gloves, and headgear when it was cold. Lightweight shirts, shorts, and visors when it was hot. And one must never forget the coordinating sports bras and socks!
The same thing happened when I took up skiing, although this time there were more things I needed to buy before my first trip up the slopes: parka, ski pants, thermal underwear, turtleneck shirts, ski socks, goggles, ski hat. After several trips using rented equipment, I decided to buy my own skis, boots, and poles. Ta-da!… Now I was a skiier! In time, I bought more tops, more bottoms, and more accessories as ski conditions (and fashion trends) dictated. I wore form-fitting lycra pants when they were trendy, then baggy insulated pants when everyone went grunge. My neck gaiters matched my knit hats, which matched my turtlenecks. I was finding it harder and harder to store all these acquisitions in my already cramped closet.
Or take the time when I decided to get scuba-certified. Again, this required that I purchase the bare necessities: a dive mask, snorkel, booties, and fins. I’d be able to rent the rest of the stuff I needed, but when I heard about what divers do inside their wetsuits, especially when it gets cold, I decided to buy my own. After going on a few dive trips, I’d accumulated a waterproof camera, a dive knife, a waterproof flashlight, ankle weights, and all kinds of doodads that I could conveniently hook on to myself while I swam around with the fishies. Thank goodness, however, that diving hadn’t become another regular habit. Otherwise, I’d probably have a BC, regulator, dive computer, and even more dive paraphernalia sitting in a bin in my garage!
As if that weren’t enough, I took up yet another sport a few months ago: golf! When I started taking lessons, my first few sessions with the instructor were with rented clubs, a pair of walking shorts, and a golf shirt that I bought from the pro shop (heaven forbid I wear a shirt that was intended for another sport!). Once I decided that golf and I got along well enough together, I headed for the equipment rack to buy golf clubs, again trying to get the biggest bang for my hard-earned buck. I steered clear of the popular Callaway and Titleist clubs and settled on a decent Wilson women’s beginner set from Wal-mart (it was the same set a women’s golf association was promoting, but at a lower price. So there!). And while I was at it, I got some golf shoes, shorts, pants, and shirts. It’s all about the look, you know…
So that brings me back to my obsession with all things yoga. Again, I started by investing in the basic needs: a mat, plus a couple of yoga pants and yoga tops. Decent quality stuff at a decent price. Then I started adding on more stuff. A mat bag, a microfiber mat towel, more clothes, even matching flipflops. My practice was looking better, so I wanted to make sure that I looked better, too.
I started taking note of what the more hardcore yogis were wearing. And as with all of the other sports I’d been involved in, there were name brands galore. Hard Tail roll-top yoga pants. Lululemon body-hugging cami tops. Be Present quick-dry cropped pants. There was such a variety of styles and colors, and I wanted it all! I even started collecting logo tees from the studios I practice at — Truyoga, Liberation, Rising Lotus, Santa Monica Power Yoga – as well as from the out-of-town yoga studios I’ve visited — Jivamukti in NYC, Flow Yoga Center in DC, Back Bay Yoga in Boston. But what gives me the biggest kick is when I travel in my Yoga Tribe and Culture Tanks with their yoga lifestyle graphics, such as Change Your Karma - Do Good, Off the Mat into the World, and Breathe the Change: Global Mala. Long-time yogis usually take one look at me and say “You’re from LA, aren’t you?”
I guess I’ve arrived; I’m now yogically-hip
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Yoga may be a practice with a spiritual basis but the primary concern that most yogis (at least female practitioners) have when choosing their yoga pants is: does my butt look good in these? Are they comfortable AND flattering? Will they stretch/bag out after I practice in them? What kind of rise is too high/too low? And what will they do if I sweat in these? (Who has not suffered the dreaded crotch –sweat look)?
For the discerning yogi, here are some things to consider when finding that perfect pant:
1. Color – it’s a cliché but dark colors like black, brown, dark blue are easier to wear and more flattering than other hues. Grey marle (the old school athletic sports grey of old gym shirts) is cute but risks making you look a bit collegiate. Plus it really shows sweat. White is a stunning shade to pull off and de riguer for Kundalini yoga practitioners. A form-fitting pair of white pants requires supreme confidence and if you feel you have the legs to do it, go for it!
2. Fabric- the trick is to find something that has good weight and has that nice thigh/butt/waist support factor without feeling you’re wearing a wetsuit. This is especially important if you’re wearing a lighter color for the ‘cling’ factor. Look for fabrics that are ideally natural fibers as they allow your body to breathe when doing a challenging practice. Cotton/Lycra mixes are ideal and organic cotton is even better. Something that you can also just throw in the washing machine is essential. Most pants for active wear should also be color-fast.
3. Cut – this is critical in finding that perfect pant. The most flattering length for a variety of body shapes is the bootleg with a little flare at the ankle. They make your legs look longer and the hips look proportionate. A wide-waist band is also key to avoid being cut in half in forward bends and feeling secure and supported. Most people feel best when the waist-band sits an inch or so above the hips. Another bane of yoga pants is the dread ‘camel toe’ look at the crotch. Avoid this by making sure the pants are not too tight across the thigh and the rise is not too low. An interesting detail such as a faux fly, will help to minimize this.
When you have the pants, the rest of your outfit is a breeze!
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