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What to Wear to Yoga Class

Updated on September 4, 2014
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If you're new to yoga, you might wonder: What should I wear? Just like any other type of sport or physical activity, yoga requires particular types of clothing that will help you maximize your performance. Yoga class etiquette also dictates the sort of fashion that is appropriate for the activity.

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The Basics

It's true that you can wear almost anything to do yoga. Nonetheless, there are practical considerations that should make you think twice about wearing jeans or a dress.

It is best to wear tight-fitting but stretchy clothes to yoga class. The most basic are leggings and a tank top or shirt. It is advisable to get them in breathable moisture wicking fabrics to keep you comfortable and cool as you sweat. Try to avoid absorbent fabrics like cotton.

If you wear very loose clothes, the instructor won't be able to see your alignment properly and adjust you to prevent injury. Also, you don't want your shirt going over your head or your shorts giving everyone a little flash as you do your downward dogs and headstands. Similarly, you don't want your clothes getting in the way of doing twists and binds.

Some people may not be very comfortable with wearing ultra tight clothes, and that's fine. You can still go ahead and wear a pair of sweatpants and an old shirt granted that they fit close enough to your body in a way that still allow for easy movement.

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Athletic Clothing

Some sports and fashion brands carry athletic clothing specially designed for yoga. These are essentially no different from clothes meant to be worn for the gym or for running. Although, yoga sports bras and tops tend to have less or no support, because you won't be doing a lot of rigorous vertical movement (i.e., jumping around) in class. Very tight bras would also make it difficult for you to do the stretching and breathing exercises.

Branded yoga clothes offer a lot of variety in terms of fashion. You can find tanks with cut-out backs and printed capri leggings that you won't be able to purchase elsewhere. More seasoned yoga practitioners already know what works best for class and you might find that some of them opt for less fabric. Depending on what's comfortable for you, you can go to yoga in a light sports bra and booty shorts. Men can even go without a shirt on. For most classes, this is considered appropriate attire.

Try to gauge the class you are going to and see if your classmates don't seem to mind such an outfit. You would want to be focused on your practice and not on what other people are thinking about you. Just also be sure that your clothes don't have the tendency to slip or move around as you transition into different poses. A bikini top may not be the best idea for bends and stretches.

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Know the Class

The most appropriate clothing for class would actually vary depending on the yoga style you are practicing. Below are some of the common styles.

Style
Intensity
Clothing
Restorative
Very gentle
Loose clothing OK
Hatha
Relaxed
Basics
Vinyasa
Lively
Basics, Athletic
Ashtanga
Rigorous
Athletic
Hot
Intense, Heated
Less fabric
Bikram
Intense, Heated
Less fabric
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A Note on Footwear and Hand Gear

You practice yoga barefoot, so you will be asked to leave your shoes outside the practice area. Some practitioners might wear toe-less socks with grippy soles or foot wraps to help them stay grounded on the mat. Gloves and hand wraps work in a similar way. They help reduce slipping and absorb sweat.

Instructors might advise against using socks and gloves because you want to train your bare feet and hands to have stronger grip on their own. A more mystical explanation is that these gear block the flow of energy in the body.

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    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Thanks for the useful tips! I have pondered what to wear for certain exercise programs and this will be handy for yoga. Voted useful!