Elevate Difference

Hamsa Clothing Yoga Pants

Hamsa is a Sanskrit word for a meditation we all do daily without intention; it is our first, and inherent, pranayama: inhale (ham) and exhale (sa). Breathing is a natural way to steady the mind and calm the body. It provides a method to refocus one's physical and mental rhythm, and channel it in a more positive, stress-free way. Because of this, pranayama is an integral part of yoga.

As one might expect given the name, Hamsa Clothing is a woman-run company that facilitates yogic comfort through the sale of cotton pants and tees made to stretch (thanks lycra!) with the body—particularly the female body—during one's yoga practice. Its sister company, Moonseats, sells meditation cushions. Run by Sangeeta from Cape Town, South Africa, Hamsa Clothing is an alternative to the corporatism and competition that has infected the world of yoga.

Sangeeta provided me with three sample pair of pants for this review, each a different design and color. The first were rather small for my size 12 lower half, and when worn resemble a pair of calf-length leggings. (It's possible these would be ankle length on someone who isn't six feet tall, like I am.) In fact, I can easily see these having a dual use if paired with a cute top instead of a tee. The deep red material is spiced up a bit by a multi-colored floral design that I simply adore: a sort of modern, fashionable take on Hawaiian print. I also love the soft stretchiness of the fabric, and its breathability while hugging the body.

Pairs two and three appear to be made of a different material than the first, a heavier and thicker cotton—though no less soft and stretchy—that would work well for winter sessions. The medium size fit me just fine, though to be honest, a large may well have fit better. Both pair have a reinforced roll top waist, which allows you to adjust the waistline in order to achieve a more snug fit and create the most flattering and stylish look for your particular body type. The roll top also makes these pants suitable for ladies with a bun in the oven (or on a badly bloated period day) since they will expand as your belly expands.

What makes the second and third pair distinct from each other is both the color (one is periwinkle blue while the other is steel gray, both of which are very pleasing and calming) and the shape of the leg. The blue pair is a standard pant style: semi-loose yet fitted at the thigh and slightly flared (more like boot cut) at the ankle. The gray pair, however, is a bit more adventurous and reminds me of something I see the hippie tourists wearing around Kolkata: a harem-style cut that is baggy throughout the length of the leg with a tightly bunched cuff at the ankle. My recent readings of the Indian editions of both Marie Claire and Vogue have confirmed that this style is coming back into popular fashion, so perhaps this means I am now ahead of the curve. The construction on all three pair of pants is impeccable.

Hamsa does have another Sanskrit meaning, one that is no doubt the actual root of this clothing company's name. Hamsa is typically translated as swan, a term that is a slight misnomer since swans aren't indigenous to India and the creature called hamsa was probably actually a goose. Somewhere along the way the linguistic swap was made when hamsa became associated (through repetition) with the inverse of the word, soaham, meaning "that which I am." Because when asked to self-define, we'd probably all rather be swans than geese, no?

Written by: Mandy Van Deven, January 6th 2010