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Yoga Essentials: What to Wear to Class

A great thing about yoga is that you don’t need expensive gear or a fancy wardrobe. As long as you’re wearing something comfortable for bending and stretching, you’re good to go. But while you don’t need to spend a lot of money, what you wear and the mats/props you use can affect your yoga experience. To help you maximize your cash outlay, here are a few tips for making the most of your yoga dollar.

When looking for yoga apparel, be sure you’re free to move easily through the postures, with no restrictions to body or breath. Knit fabrics can stretch with your body, so they are usually more comfortable than a woven fabric. Any kind of legging or jegging will fit the bill for movability. With that said, stretchy pants that are not specifically made for exercise are often very see-through. Take them through a bend test. Bend at the waist and look back into a mirror. If there is more showing through the fabric than you are comfortable with, try a different pair.

Cotton fabrics feel soft and are a good option for most yoga classes. The downside to cotton is that it tends to stretch out as you wear it. You can avoid this problem by looking for items with a bit of Lycra in the fabric, which helps it hold its shape.

If you are regularly breaking a sweat, cotton is not your friend. Its natural breathability is overridden by its tendency to hold onto moisture, which means it gets heavier as you sweat and the dampness by your skin makes it harder for your body to regulate its temperature. In extreme cases, you can even get chafing from the inflexibility cotton gets when it’s wet. Solve this dilemma by opting for wicking and performance fabric (always synthetic) when you’re doing a class in which you will sweat. These fabrics are designed to pull moisture away from your body and to dry quickly, so you’ll be more comfortable in the long-run. Be sure to wash them frequently and check the label for care instructions, because some wicking fabrics require air drying to maximize their performance. You can also find some great fabric made of recycled plastic bottles and the like, and while it is synthetic, it has a nice feel and a luxurious stretch. These fabrics are environmentally friendly as well, which puts you one step closer to being at peace with the outer world.

Although we usually think baggy = comfortable, baggy is not the best option for yoga. Your teacher needs to be able to see your body’s alignment to minimize injury risk. The baggier the clothing, the harder it is for your teacher to see what’s going on. Plus, baggy clothes tend to fall in your face when you’re folding or going upside down, which is inconvenient at best and potentially, um, revealing. This is especially true with scoopy tees. Taking your clothes through a dry run in a dressing room or before you get dressed for class can help you figure out what will actually be comfortable during your practice.

Lots of us avoid sleeveless tanks because we don’t love our arms. Never mind that this is kind of silly, tanks are great for yoga because they give arms and shoulders total freedom of movement, and again, help your teacher see your body’s position. You can always cover up with a sleeved shirt, cardigan, or jacket when you’re not in class. Give one a try.

Beware of zippers, ties, buttons, and other things that are attached to or stick out of a garment. These can really pull and poke if they’re caught in the wrong place.

If pants or capris are too warm for you, you can always wear shorts. We highly encourage either shorts that fit snugly against the body or wearing mid-thigh compression shorts underneath. Again, test them out before purchasing or wearing them to class. If you lie on the floor with knees bent and your shorts flop down and it feels breezy up in there, wear a pair of compression shorts underneath or find something different. We will talk to you if you are showing us too much and believe me, nobody likes that conversation.

Speaking of compression shorts, let’s talk undergarments. For people who wear bras, you aren’t bouncing around in most yoga classes so a low-impact sports bra should work fine. You will likely prefer something that is not super tight against your rib cage that you can get a deep breath. A non-sports bra can also work fine–you might look for one that has more coverage. If you sweat a lot, a sports bra will deal with sweat better than a standard bra.

For people who normally wear a binder, the binder is likely to restrict your ability to breathe deeply and may feel uncomfortable during class, but it also might make you feel comfortable to wear it. You might consider wearing a binder that is a size larger than your regular size or wearing two sports bras a size larger for yoga and other sporty activities. Students have recommended the two-sports bra approach. For people who tuck, it can also create restriction of movement during class that might not feel great. Local business, Rebirth

Garments sells custom underwear made from spandex that can be worn for swimming, exercise, or yoga. Owner, Sky Cubacub, says that these garments are great for movement because of the particular slightly stretchy compression fabric they use. Many of Sky’s clients wear them under yoga pants with great results. Another option would be to wear very loose flowy pants, like harem pants, with underwear that allows for movement and ease. Our teachers are there to make yoga accessible for all people and all bodies. We practice trauma-informed yoga while teaching and we are available to help you adapt a pose or a movement so you can feel at your best in your body.

You can find exercise clothing at many stores and many price points these days, including Target, Kohl’s, and sporting goods stores like Dick’s. In addition to those three stores (which carry some plus size gear often 2-3X), for larger sizes look at Nike, Torrid, Lane Bryant, Danskin, Dia & Co’s activewear box, and Super Fit Hero. Some new places that we haven’t yet tried, but look promising, include Girlfriend Collective and the Adidas/Universal Standard collaboration.

Next time, we’ll take on picking the right mat.

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