Help! What do I wear to yoga?

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Going to a yoga class and don’t know what to wear?! Look no further, I’m here to help. Deciding what to wear is one of the most common things that trip people up when starting a yoga practice. The popular media might have you believe that a full fitness wardrobe is required, which indeed, it is not.

The first rule of what to wear while practicing yoga is: Be comfortable inside and out. If you are self-conscious and emotional or anxious because of your outfit, it will detract from your experience. Be kind to yourself and choose something that you will be most comfortable wearing.

The second rule of what to wear while practicing yoga is: Be able to move freely. It’s important that your body be unencumbered. Any restriction from clothing will inhibit your fullest expression of the yoga poses.

Now, after having said all of that, from my perspective as a yoga teacher, there is value in wearing clothes that hug the body to practice yoga. There are three main reasons why form-fitting clothes can be beneficial to your yoga practice: safety, function and modesty.

First, in order for a teacher to best keep a student safe in class, she needs to be able to observe the alignment of the joints. This can be done visually, but the joints (particularly knees and ankles) must be exposed. Wearing shorts or form-fitting pants is the best way to achieve this. When a teacher can see the joints well, they are able to help prevent unsafe positions.

Second, wearing clothes that hug the body allow a person to be completely unrestricted in their movements. In a yoga class, we fold, we twist, we bend, and otherwise put our bodies in uncommon positions. If our clothes have extra fabric hanging off our bodies, then the fabric can become part of the pose, potentially interfering. Is this a big deal? No, but your experience will be most uninhibited if your outfit moves with your body.

Lastly, if your clothes don’t move with your body, then your body can be at times, hanging out! Believe it or not, your body has a greater chance of being exposed in the flesh if your clothes are not form-fitting. This is why wearing form-fitting clothing can be a more modest choice. It seems counter intuitive, but trust me. When in downward facing dog, a loose shirt can rise up towards your head, exposing belly and possibly more! Does this always happen? Of course not! But it’s one more reason to consider clothing that moves with the body.

In the end, deciding what to wear is a personal choice. Be comfortable is the golden rule. My advice for best clothing performance is to find something that hugs the body so that the teacher can best keep you safe, your movements will be uninhibited, and your body will remain covered!

And yet! Remember that “doing yoga” does not have to be a big production. This entire post is almost already too long to be talking about what to wear. Making it to class in jeans and a t-shirt is better than not going at all. Keep that in mind. And choosing to stand up tall and find Mountain Pose while in line at the grocery store or doing a seated twist in front of a desk at work is also better than not doing an yoga at all. Frame the advice in this post— ! Wear what you want. Be comfortable. Understand the benefits of form-fitting clothing and why it’s a choice, not a requirement!