When I was growing up, about 90 percent of the people I went to school with were obsessed with Calvin Klein jeans. I remember teenage Brooke Shields asking us, “Do you want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”
In a yoga class, it’s no different. The lovely models who grace Yoga Journal and other magazines in the highest-end athletic wear are nice to look at, but the clothing is not always practical or affordable. Since starting my yoga practice, I have been on a continuous search for not only clothes that fit me and my unique body and frame, but also items that are worth my hard-earned money.
In one of my first vinyasa yoga classes, I wore an old concert T-shirt, and during my first downward facing dog, my shirt went flying up and exposed me in ways I was not ready for. I was wearing baggy sweatpants that wouldn’t hold my baggy T-shirt in place, and I was very distracted and uncomfortable.
The type of yoga class you attend should be a deciding factor in what you wear. For a yoga nidra class (yogic sleep), I wouldn't recommend wearing hot yoga shorts or a bra top. For a hot yoga class, I wouldn’t wear a heavy long-sleeved top or sweatpants. No matter which class you choose, I recommend trying out a few poses while you're trying on clothes to see how your body feels.
My expertise in fashion really only comes from a brief stint as a Fashion Buying and Merchandising major in college. I am not a big advocate for trend silhouettes, but I am a big advocate for what feels good when I practice and teach.
You can find many of the items below at local activewear stores.
Under It All
For women: Your sports bra should feel comfortable. A lot of athletic tops have built-in bras and only support you well if you wear a C cup or below. For larger sizes, a couple of good sports bras will be well worth your investment. I have sports bras that cost $15, and others that cost $50. As long as it makes you feel comfortable and supported, there are bras to choose from in almost every price range. Underwear should feel nonexistent, so a thong or bikini-cut style is a good choice.
For men: I asked several male friends what is most comfortable during yoga, and nine out of 10 recommended boxer briefs. I am no expert on how uncomfortable some postures can become when wearing the wrong underwear, but I have heard horror stories about painful binding and public exposure. Look for support and comfort when when choosing your yoga undergarments.
For women: When trying a new top, I try it out in downward facing dog. I need to make sure my girls stay in place! Form-fitting T-shirts, tanks and yoga tops with a built-in bra are the way to go. From Target to Lululemon, there are selections at a variety of prices.
For men: As with the ladies, form-fitting T-shirts or sports tops will prevent your shirt from riding up over your face and prohibiting breathing. Most of my male friends do not like to shop, my husband included. Save yourself some time and money by trying on a couple of styles (don't wait until you get home) and doing some moves, and then buy five in every color. You won’t have to shop for another five years!
For me, buying pants is hard. My waist is smallish, but below that is ka-dunk-a-dunkish bottom half, with wide hips and long thick legs. Going out to purchase any style of pant, let alone yoga pants, gives me hives. Once you find a pair of pants that you love, buy a couple of pairs right then and there; otherwise, you will wish you had. I buy two pairs at a time, depending on price, to avoid having to do it again for a few more months.
For women: Fitted capri-style pants are what I see being worn most often in the studios. I like a long, fitted pant that has a comfortable waistband. I tend to stay away from pants that need a drawstring to tighten because it’s annoying when the tie comes undone in the middle of a vinyasa.
For men: I have noticed and have been told that loose, long shorts or fitted capri-style pants seem to be the most comfortable. Shorts are tricky for men and women, so I suggest again that you do some poses in the shorts to determine whether you are comfortable in them and whether they are appropriate for your style of yoga.
Unitards are available for men and women and are awesome when made properly, although they are time consuming when you have to use the bathroom. Most of the unitards that I have worn are double layered in the torso. They hold you in in all the right places, and there is very little room for a wardrobe malfunction to occur.
Whatever you choose to wear to yoga, remember in the long run it’s all about the physical, emotional and spiritual results of the practice, not a brand name or the hottest color for fall. When choosing your yoga wear be creative, be comfortable and be practical, and you can’t go wrong!