Yoga clothing is a multi-million dollar industry with a whole array of clothes available that claim to be specifically designed for yogis. From crop tops with intricate straps, to vibrant printed leggings, bamboo toe socks, even meditation shawls. Nowadays you can go to a yoga class dressed head to toe in brand name designer clothing like Lululemon or Donna Karan. It seems like every movie star has their own line of yoga-inspired active wear. With such a variety to choose from, it’s easy to be overwhelmed.
The important thing to remember is this: expensive, boutique clothing is not a prerequisite for practicing yoga. Even the very idea that you need fancy clothes to do yoga is not particularly yogic. If you’re brand new to yoga, take heart. Chances are you already have something perfect to wear in your closet.
So, what do you need to consider when dressing for yoga? Comfort and practicality. These are key. You want clothes that allow you to move freely, preserve your dignity and keep you at a comfortable temperature.
In terms of tops, whatever you would wear to the gym
will work for yoga, too. Sports bras, vests, crop tops and T-shirts all
have their place. I prefer soft, breathable fabrics so I don’t get too
sweaty - cotton or viscose are ideal. Certain yoga sequences may include
multiple inversions, so check that your top can stay comfortably when put in a handstand
before committing to a particular shirt. Personally, there's nothing
worse than flashing a group of total strangers my sports bra as my shirt
falls around my face in downward-facing dog!
Lastly, consider bringing a sweater or a longer-sleeved layer to pull on during savasana.
It’s much easier to relax if you're feeling cozy. Bringing socks is a
good idea for the same reason, just remember to remove them for all
standing poses - slippery feet are not safe or helpful!
Shorts or leggings are popular options. When choosing fabrics and styles, consider the temperature of the room you practice in, especially if you’re into Bikram yoga, or Hot yoga, shorts are perfect for this particular style.
Form-fitting leggings, you know the ones, have become the go-to for yogis practicing more athletic forms of yoga like Vinyasa and Flow yoga. This is because these leggings stay put and won't get in the way of your Sun Salutations or more complicated asanas like crow pose. (Learn more about Sun Salutations in Why Salute the Sun?)
For most leggings, it’s worth getting a friend to check the opacity (or lack thereof) of the fabric when you bend over. A surprising number of leggings do not pass this test and checking first is an easy way to avoid potentially embarrassing moments!
Some people prefer loose yoga pants to leggings. These can be great, and super-comfy, especially if you are into Kundalini yoga or are taking a Yin yoga class. Just be aware that the extra fabric could be annoying if you’re practicing a dynamic yoga like Ashtanga where you might get tangled up in your own clothes. (Read more about Kundalini yoga in Kriyas, Kundalini and You.)
Wear What's Best for You
As you get more into practicing yoga, you may want to invest in special yoga clothes that suit your personal preferences, just remember that what you wear to yoga is never the most important thing. If you’re comfortable practicing in an old pair of sweatpants and T-shirt, and I have for years, go for it!