At Island Life Yoga & Nutrition, we interact almost every day with first-time yogis in the Soulard area of St Louis who always have great questions before their first class. In fact, one of the most common questions we get asked from first-timers, men and women alike, is “what do I wear?”.
While most people would recommend wearing whichever clothes you would normally wear to go to the gym, yoga does have some special movements and atmospheres where the clothes you wear can be a distraction from your practice. In this post, I’ll talk about the factors you should take into consideration when picking out your yoga wardrobe and how I pick out my yoga clothes each day before going to teach at our studio.
Choosing a Shirt
In general when you’re looking for a shirt to wear to yoga, think about the movements and the condition of the class you’ll be attending. For example, let’s say you’re attending bikram yoga or hot yoga class where the room can be up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In this case, you may want to consider wearing a sports bra or tank top and sometimes men can even forgo a shirt or tank altogether (check with your instructor first to see if this is an option!). If you’re attending a beginner class, it’s likely that any comfortable t-shirt or tank top that gives you a free range of motion will be perfect. You may even be able to get away with wearing a long sleeve shirt or sweatshirt in a beginner’s class so that you’re warm throughout each pose.
Layering can also be a good idea when it comes to a great yoga top! If you’re attending a class where you’ll be doing inversions or more advanced poses, you may want to put a tucked in camisole under a looser shirt if you’re concerned about showing your midriff. This way you can still focus on your poses instead of possibly being concerned with pulling down a t-shirt to cover up. Layering can also work if you tend to get hot and cold during class time. So if you’re cold at the beginning or end, you may want to bring a long sleeve shirt with a tank underneath so you can wear the longer shirt during the cold portions of class.
All in all, in picking out a yoga shirt, you want to be sure you’re not exposing more of your body than you feel comfortable when doing your poses. And you want to be sure you’re able to get into any pose comfortably without your shirt restricting your movement.
I personally like to wear a tank top when I teach or practice because then I don’t have to worry about pushing long sleeves out of the way or worry about a tight t-shirt restricting my arm movements. When picking out a good yoga shirt, I like to do some stretches to ensure that I’m getting full rotation in my shoulders and I make sure the shirt is long enough to cover my lower back when I’m in positions like downward dog or a forward bend.
For a great yoga pant, you have a lot of options! Most athletic clothing brands offer pants made specifically for yoga in bootcut, skinny and cropped designs in a variety of colors and patterns. But if you’re not quite sure you want to invest in a pair of yoga-specific pants, you still have other great options:
Just like with a shirt, the most important part of choosing a pair of pants to wear to yoga is making sure you can move around in them. If I’m not sure whether a pair of pants can work, I do some squats and bends to make sure my pants aren’t restricting my range of motion. I also want to be sure my pants aren’t too long so I’m not accidentally stepping on them. I personally like a high-waisted pair of pants as well, just so I’m sure I’m adequately covered if we’re doing inversions or more difficult poses.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to accessorize! Here are some popular accessories many of my students like to add to their yoga ensembles:
Long story short, you want to wear something comfortable that you can move and stretch in. You don’t want your clothing to limit your range of motion but you don’t want your clothes to become a distraction by being too long or too loose. If you’re a first time student, a t-shirt and leggings or shorts is usually a safe bet! And I encourage you to try different styles during your first couple classes to see what feels best.
All in all, we strive at Island Life to be non-intimidating and to make everyone feel comfortable, so wear whatever makes you feel good to move in. Plus you can even order some Island Life merch from our studio to sport while you’re in class or in your daily life!