Downright Chic in Downward Dog: Closed Set with Julie Bensman

If you didn't know me and glanced at the right side of my palm, you might mistake me for a construction worker or a gardener. Calloused and swollen, my thumb is the type that makes cashiers wince and manicurists gasp. It is the thumb…of an editor. Often referred to as Crackberry, my work-supplied smartphone is always by my side: on the subway, in the street, on the treadmill, tucked inside my purse while stealth emailing during movies. The only times it seems the rollerball is not connected to my thumb — and doing digital damage — is in the shower or during yoga.

Namaste, people. Four times a week, yoga is my 90-minute reminder that, despite the panicked tone of an email from a publicist whose client will NOT have her hair brushed by anyone other than her personal stylist who, oops!, is on vacation in Fiji for the next week, EMAILS CAN WAIT.

A 2008 market study by Yoga Journal indicated that 6.9% of U.S. adults (or 15.8 million people) practice yoga. I’m going go out on a limb and posit that most of these yogis are stressed out New Yorkers like myself. And in true New York fashion, they’re looking downright chic while in downward dog.

“In the last few years, the sheer volume of yoga gear has increased exponentially,” says my good friend, certified yoga teacher and author of Po(i)sed, Amy Rosenthal. “Studios used to be just studios. Now, they’re serving as stores, too. The retail section of YogaWorks Union Square, for example, is much larger than the studio’s changing area for students.”

The same Yoga Journal study shows that Americans spend $5.7 billion a year on yoga products, including trendy clothing and accessories that are making the leap from mat to street. Still, not all yoga wear is created equal and, in a market this saturated, what sets the fashionable and functional apart from the imposters?

“Always stick to tapered bottoms and fitted tops,” says Rosenthal. “Flares may be back in fashion, but they’re not practical on the mat. Try easing into Tree Pose wearing loose, flowy pants. It’s not easy.”

Rosenthal reminds me that when it comes to yoga fashion, there is no judgment. That may be, but when you’re posing next to the supermodels in my Vinyasa class, it’s never a bad idea to have these top picks on hand:

Zobha Amelia Tank


$64 at
I personally love this tank for its longer length (yoga is no place for midriff baring) as well as the shelf bra with removable cups. I’ve had my Zobha gear for practically a decade and it’s still going strong.

Be Present 108 French Terry Raglan Sweatshirt


Super soft and eco-friendly (the fabric is produced by spinning wood pulp into fibers), this sweatshirt is emblazoned with 108, the sacred number in both yoga and Hinduism. 

Lululemon Groove Pant


I know Amy loves her tapered pants, but this style was designed for both practice and post-practice activities. With Lululemon’s signature breathable fabric and 4-way stretch, they’re reversible, too.

Jade Pink Mat


$69.95 at
In honor of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Jade will give $5 from the sale of each Jade Pink mat to a Breast Cancer Charity so stock up! On the eco-friendly front, Jade mats are made sustainably with natural rubber tapped from trees (read: no PVS, EVA or other synthetic rubber).

Manduka Limited Edition Lyrics Practice Tote, ONEness


I love the imagery on this tote, which is mean to showcase the “inspired fusion of word and image.” So Zen.

Happy posing…