So you are about to enrol in your first yoga class or start your yoga self practice - what to wear?! Believe it or not the clothing choice for yoga can highly effect your yoga practice. Pick the wrong clothes for your yoga session and you might find it difficult to move around, get into the poses and more importantly feel comfortable within your practice. Suggestions in this blog are only tips from my own experience, and I do not believe that there are certain things that women should wear or that men should wear. In this sense I take a more non-binary approach and believe that what is comfortable is the best thing to wear for your practice.
The best clothes for yoga are clothes which you feel comfortable to move, stretch and workout in. Yoga is a physical activity, varying in its level of intensity so different styles might permit for different kinds of clothing. For yoga, you need to be in some form of fitness or workout wear. Denim jeans are not an option! You want to wear clothes which support the practice you are about to do. For yoga, most people opt for tight clothing like leggings and tank tops. This makes it easier for you to concentrate on the movement in your practice rather than fidgeting with the clothing you are wearing. Sometimes loose clothing can be a distraction.
When you book your yoga classes and are planning what to wear take the time to check out what the class might entail. This will inform what you will need to be wearing. For styles such as yin or restorative, where you are going to spend a lot of time laying down, chilling out on the mat. You might like to have layers of clothing. Yoga leggings with a top, followed by a long sleeved top, and perhaps even a blanket. This way you can keep your body covered whilst you are in the stiller poses. In contrast, if you are attending a hot yoga class, like Bikram, you know it is going to be hot and you are going to sweat so dress appropriately. You'll need to wear clothes which are going to keep you cool so no thick fabrics. Shorts and a sports bra/vest/crop top would suffice here. For most styles of yoga like Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Hatha you're going to get warm in the sessions as you will be moving around the mat. Generally yoga leggings and a crop top, vest top, tank top are all good choices.
For your practice you might want to wear a sports bra, particularly if you have breasts which need some support. Ensure you choose a sports bra which correctly fits and prevents you from needing to adjust or rearrange your top half all the way through the class. Feeling comfortable and supported in your practice is really important. You will find there are typical yoga tops, usually tank tops or vest tops, that are a tight form-fitting style so that they're not so loose that they're interfering with your downward dog pose, covering your face in inversions or just generally getting in the way! There are lots of different lengths of yoga tops - you can find crop tops which are very petite and really only cover the boobs, or you can get crop tops which are longer in length and cover up a little more flesh.
Depending on your preference, yoga leggings or yoga shorts are the perfect pants to practice in. Again, comfort is key. Do you like to have your legs covered or do you prefer to show off your legs? What helps you stretch? What can you move best in? These might be questions to ask when making this decision. Pay attention to the fabric of what you choose, generally something Lycra-based is good so that when you get warmer your body can breath. Also a material that absorbs sweat well is always useful.
Some people prefer looser clothing and might opt for yoga pants. Generally yoga pants might have a more floaty, looser feel which can feel quite pleasurable in movement. The only thing about yoga pants is that sometimes it can be hard for the teacher to see your alignment and form in the poses. If they are more baggy in style, they could interfere with things such as inversions so it's worth bearing in mind what style of yoga you will be practicing. If you choose yoga leggings go for the tighter option so it will be possible to see the alignment and form in the pose easily. Some feel daunted by the prospect of squeezing into a pair of yoga leggings and if you feel like that then you shouldn't force yourself to wear what you think the norm is, find a style which suits you instead.
In short - no! Yoga has never traditionally been practiced in footwear or socks and that is because it disrupts the connection of the foot to the floor. I can't even imagine how somebody would do yoga in shoes! For yin and restorative, socks could be worn because the reality is that you are not moving around so much so the likelihood that you could slip is low. Your yoga class or practice is probably one of the only parts of the day when you can take your shoes off and enjoy being barefoot so take advantage of it!
Well, anyone who practices yoga is a yogi in my opinion! Real yogis wear whatever serves the needs of their practice.
A guy should wear whatever he feels comfortable in and whatever is suitable for the style of yoga being practiced.
For your first yoga class whether it is in a yoga studio or at home select an outfit that you can move around in with a sense of freedom and ease. That is appropriate for physical fitness and exercise, and finally something that is so comfortable that it fills you with confidence so that you can enjoy your yoga practice fully.