Yoga. This 4-letter word, this philosophy of life and all that it implies, will always remain a rather divisive concept. Many will heartily smile from ear to ear and spend hours telling you how and how much yoga has changed their lives, how essential a healthy mind and a healthy body are, while others will dramatically roll their eyes at you and swear to their great gods that they are not fooled, and that they don’t need another guru…
Nevertheless, and among the plethora of international days decreed by the UN, some more absurd than others, the one devoted to yoga, every June 21st, remains an ideal opportunity for yogis, true believers or just curious people, to celebrate, to commune, and to rediscover a little of this spirituality in a more and more hysterical and deleterious XXIst century. An opportunity for us as well, at Pulse, along with Hanane Lazaar, for a quick chitchat about yoga in the Arab world, and a little bit of fun reinventing and reimagining its dress code. Lazaar is a Moroccan yogi and fashion designer, a life-lover to the fullest, and an artist, always off the beaten track, daring and creative.
Why is yoga still quite niche and misunderstood by the masses in the Arab world? Is it because of religion? “Yes, I do think that religion is one of the reasons. People still feel, and fear, that a yoga practice, associated with Hinduism, goes against the teachings and the beliefs of Islam. And some of my Christian friends share the same concerns when it comes to yoga and Christianity. But it’s not the only reason. Yoga is still seen, at least here in Morocco, as a luxury that most people can’t afford.”
Which three words would you pick to convince someone truly reluctant to try yoga? “I genuinely can’t say: “Hey, try yoga, it will change your life!”. It will, definitely, but it depends on the person. What I can do is sit down and tell them how much I love this practice or that, the discipline, how much it has helped me, and how I have modified it and it helped lift out things that I don’t want to do personally. If they can relate, then I am sure they will give it a try. Yoga, along with other things, has helped me maintain order in a chaotic and messy world and life. I am truly thankful for that.”
And what about the dress code? Can we be comfortable and fashionable at the same time? Lazaar smiles: “It depends! This handmade djellaba, for example, is not ideal for a 90 minutes yoga session, but I love to wear it and strike a pose”, she says. Her second Instagram account, coveredyogagirl is “just for fashion and body movements, and everybody knows that outfits are not so pretty when it comes to body movements…”
For yoga, Lazaar usually wears clothes designed by her mom and herself for their brand Dobarem (in Morocco, this word means courageous, or tough, and often refers to the lion…), or thrifted items, even some “borrowed from a family member’s closet”. Most of the time, she goes for flowy skirts, designed by Dobarem as well, or harem pants and large tops.
Hanane Lazaar has definitely a motto: whatever she is doing, she does it with style.