See that girl in the front row? I’ve seen her adjust those Hard Tail pants, so she knows that her thong is showing,” says Malissa Shriver, speaking after a Maha Yoga flow class on a recent Sunday morning.
Shriver doesn’t mistake Brentwood’s Maha Yoga for a monastery; after all, this is where she met her husband, Santa Monica city councilman and Kennedy heir Bobby Shriver. Steve Miller’s “Rock ‘N Me” blares from the sound system, cell phones bleat intermittently and musky pheromones mingle as fiercely as teens at a mixer.
“Girls have their hair done and wear makeup,” says Shriver, outfitted in matching navy blue City Lights boot-cut pants and top; in her ears are thumbtack-sized diamond studs. “You wouldn’t want to come here if you looked crappy.”
Striking a pose doesn’t always mean assuming downward dog. Marc Jacobs now makes a $400 yoga mat bag; the wildly popular Lululemon Athletica label offers 29 different styles of skin-tight, full and cropped cotton pants in Crayola colors.
But what’s surprising is that Shriver and other women can recognize a pair of Hard Tail pants as easily as a Birkin bag. Yoga-wear companies like Prana and Nuala update their lines seasonally, like couture designers. Last month, Stella McCartney launched a line of yoga wear with Adidas.
According to the National Sporting Goods Assoc., Americans spent $138 million last year on yoga clothes and accessories. That number has rocketed 72% in the past four years. Om, indeed.
“It’s a lifestyle with a capital L,” says Katherine Stewart, author of “The Yoga Mamas,” a novel about a pregnant woman who finds enlightenment at Manhattan’s most elite yoga studio. “Yoga style conveys material comfort and happiness with oneself.”
It also inspires socioeconomic envy. “If I see someone wearing yoga pants, I think, ‘Why does she get to do yoga in the middle of the day?’ ” she adds.
Okay, so lust isn’t exactly recipe for enlightenment. But even super yogi Shiva Rae realizes yoga clothes have to transcend the skimpy white loincloths of ancient Hindus.
“It’s kind of impractical to do yoga in the nude.”