online yoga courseBy Gopi Rao

The expression, “to gild the lily” means to take something that’s already beautiful, and give it unnecessary trappings to make it even better. In America, gilding the lily is a way of life. We have become so used to the commercialization of so many of our activities, that we barely notice any more when we are the target market. Yoga, due to its increasing popularity, has become such a focus. Below, please find some accessories that marketers have tried to pair with Yoga, that not only fail to improve practice, but can actively hinder it.

Essential oils

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) found, in a 2007 study, that lavender and tea tree oils can mimic estrogens, causing some extreme effects, such as young boys developing breast tissue. Use these oils with care and constraint.

Boot cut, floor-grazing pants

These pants are certainly more flattering than tapered, slim fit pants. However, stepping on the cuff, and falling over, is much more common in these styles. Select your pants for a close, comfortable fit.

Toe Rings

Wearing toe rings, during Yoga exercises, can be harmful if the foot swells. In addition, asanas, which bend the toes forward, can cause the toe ring to cut into the flesh of the toe. In India, where toe rings are commonly worn, doctors see many such foot injuries, and amputations are common. Toe rings, and other jewelry, should always be removed before practice.


A 2008 article entitled, “Incense Smoke: Clinical, Structural and Molecular Effects on Airway Disease,” in Clinical and Molecular Allergy Journal, lays out the dangers of incense smoke. Cigarettes produce particulates at a rate of about 10 mg per gram burned; incense produces more than 45 mg per gram burned. The authors of the article, and researchers, found inhaled incense smoke pollutants to cause respiratory system dysfunction, and to be indicated in allergic contact dermatitis. Incense smoke can also trigger asthma attacks. Do you really want smoke in your Yoga school?

Black Henna

Henna, a flowering plant, can be used to temporarily stain skin, nails, or hair with designs. However, “black henna,” a product illegal in the United States, can be made from the dried indigo plant or from para-phenylenediamine, an ingredient in black hair dyes. The “tattoos,” produced with black henna, can result in chemical burns and in future allergic reactions to printer ink, perfumes, chemical hair dyes, textile dye, sunscreen, photographic developer, and some medications.

Temptations, to make Yoga training more glamorous, abound. Before buying an expensive or potentially dangerous accessory, consider what you really need for practice: an open mind, a willing body, and a simple space.

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