What to wear to yoga
These days, yoga clothing has fallen prey somewhat to consumerism. You will find all kinds of clothes aimed at yoga students making choosing your yoga apparel quickly overwhelming and disheartening.
This section will look at yoga tops, bottoms, and things in between so you can make a choice quickly and confidently.
For many of us, the type of top we wear will be informed by:
- cultural and societal expectations
- the type of practice
Practitioners in more conservative countries will turn up in non-revealing tops that at the very least cover the shoulders. My students (in Japan) tend to wear long t-shirts that are either short-sleeved or long-sleeved and rarely form-fitting (and this applies to people of all genders). However, when I practice in studios in my home country (the U.K.) I see women in cropped tops or even just sports bras as this is acceptable in that culture. I am not here to deem one way better or worse than the other. So, let’s look at some options.
Slower practices like restorative yoga and yin yoga might call for long-sleeved tops in winter months as you are less likely to work up a sweat than you would in an ashtanga or hatha yoga class.
For people who identify as women, a tank top with a built-in bra might suffice, or a top over a sports bra or running bra that provides good support might be an alternative option. Avoid a regular bra as they might not be supportive enough or underwiring might get a little uncomfortable. I generally opt for a sports bra and a reasonably loose t-shirt as this provides a lot of movement and decent coverage of the tum and bum. Beware that you might need to occasionally tuck a t-shirt in, as they will ride up when doing inversions like downward-facing dog or other yoga poses like standing forward folds.
For people who identify as men, topless is acceptable in some yoga studios, (particularly in hot yoga classes). Most of the time, I’ve seen men in T-shirts or tank tops. Whichever is easiest to move in and the same advice applies as it does for women.
In hotter practices, yoga shorts (tight and loose shorts for people of all genders) are a popular option (I LOVE these yoga shorts by Ripple), though beware that in poses like Crow Pose the more you sweat the less traction you have. For that reason and more yoga leggings are a common choice as they will provide better grip.
However, some yoga leggings can feel very restrictive depending on the material and fit. This is not always ideal as yoga is all about focusing on the breath – kind of hard to do when you’re all cooped up in lycra and spandex. I always opt for bamboo organic cotton leggings with a high waistband, like the black yoga pants that Bamboo clothing UK sells. This cotton is a very flexible, soft, stretchy material, and breathable.
High-waisted leggings stay in place, meaning you don’t have to worry about the top of your leggings rolling down and exposing your tum (this can get a bit distracting and will happen during more vigorous practices like vinyasa yoga or ashtanga yoga). Another great choice is a looser bottom along the lines of slouchy capri-style yoga pants, like the style offered by the brand Ripple.
Absolutely one of my top picks when it comes to deciding what to wear to yoga. If you’re a one-and-done kind of girl like me, then it’s the perfect yoga outfit. All concerns about what tops to match with what bottoms go out the window with the option of a jumpsuit. This is essentially a yoga top and bottom joined together at the waist. Why is this a great option?
Depending on your body type, you can go braless (I do) or add a yoga bra. You don’t need to worry about your tummy popping out to say hello as it will be safely hugged in by the jumpsuit providing plenty of coverage. This can make a huge difference to your practice as you stay more focused on the breath and less on potentially negatively judging yourself. Yoga is all about self-acceptance, and though I firmly believe all tummies of all shapes and sizes are perfect for a yoga class if you are someone who finds yourself getting distracted by leggings rolling down, a jumpsuit takes all that away.
You don’t need to worry about matching colors and styles – all done for you. And, (if you hadn’t already guessed), my all-time favorite yoga wear brand makes jumpsuits for summer and winter. If you do get chilly in Savasana, you can always throw on a T-shirt if you need an extra layer.
Traditionally, asana is practiced barefoot, so no need to worry about footwear. However, if you need to opt for footwear (some people do for various reasons), then by all means add a pair of socks.
Personally, in winter, I will put my socks on during savasana for extra comfort so I don’t get distracted by how cold my toes are. Yoga socks add a little extra grip if you find yourself slipping on your mat.
Yes, I know, not yoga wear technically but given their proliferation in the West they deserve an honorable mention. Did you know that a yoga mat is only a recent invention? That’s right – you don’t actually need a yoga mat to practice yoga.
However, if you go to a yoga studio that requires you to bring your own mat, then opt for one of these non-toxic mats so you reduce the harm done to the planet and to yourself.