What Should I Wear to Yoga Class?
The practice of yoga is one of paying close attention to how the body connects with the world it moves in. As you begin to cut out distraction and focus awareness, you'll better hone in on the subtle sensations that arise during practice when you don’t have to worry your pants tearing at the crotch at any given moment.
Yoga is getting to be downright fashionable nowadays, which can be both a blessing and a curse -- particularly for men. It's magnificently torturous to practice yoga when the velcro fly on your favorite pair of ripped board shorts keeps popping open and your sweat-drenched t-shirt flops down over your head in every. goddamn. downward. dog.
Ladies, you've got it... shall we say, easier. With a multitude of brands, colors, styles, fabrics, and designs to choose from, your options when selecting the proper attire for yoga class are nigh unlimited.
Ok, I'll be honest. I have a few pairs of really awesome yoga shorts that work extremely well. In fact, I live in them while teaching 10 classes a week, practicing daily (yoga & acrobatics), and managing to hold down a day job as a chocolatier at the same time. Three pairs of awesome shorts on rotation get boring after a while, however, not to mention somewhat stinky rather quickly. It can be very frustrating when your only choices are black or gray, shorts or pants, tight or baggy. Men don't really have much to pick from, so it took a long while to find what yoga clothing works best for me.
Regardless of gender, the best clothing to wear for yoga is anything that you’re comfortable to move in. Dress in clothing that allows the skin to breathe and body to move in any direction without getting caught on anything. The less bulky or bunchy, the better.
Remember: It’s easier to move easy when you can easily move.
After you've said that 5 times fast, check these guidelines to think about when deciding what to wear to class:
-Light, loose fitting clothing. Good: cotton & linen (more below), most athletic gear (leave the hockey pads at home). Bad: Denim, corduroy, leather, rubber (or anything squeaky, for that matter).
-But not too light or loose. There is one thing that men have to worry about that women don’t (during yoga, that is): the penis. Whatever you wear should offer support for your situation down there—not just to keep you from flopping willy-nilly, but so others don’t have to risk seeing one of your lil’ buddies trying to sneak out during a forward fold. Running shorts offer a nice first line of defense with the sewn-in genital hammock, although make sure that your shorts aren’t too short. Ladies, mind the Shark Fin (thong levitation) and Nip Slips. It's also embarrassing for those caught in the collateral damage of an egregious wardrobe malfunction, especially if you don't notice for a while. Awkward!
-Don’t hide the body, just cover it. If you are swimming in a sea of fabric like a Halloween ghost, your teacher won’t be able to see your posture or alignment. This means that they can’t offer valuable insight or tips for your practice. Less is more here—show ankles and bear your arms like it’s high fashion on Coney Island circa 1907. It’ll be easier for you to move smoothly, as well as for your teacher to give you helpful adjustments.
-Natural fiber or special anti-sweaty stuff? This choice depends on you. If you wanna keep it organic, go with cotton or similar materials. Cotton, however, absorbs sweat and holds onto it. You might start off nice and dry, but if you sweat a lot, you’re entering a wet yoga t-shirt contest. In this case, sweatier yogis might want to look into quick-drying athletic gear that wicks away sweat from the skin, allowing your body to breathe easier. Important to note: wash this gear regularly, as it tends to develop a smell over time.
-Avoid excess baggage. Take off your watch, your hat, your sunglasses, and as much of your jewelry as you can bear to part with. Leave it in your bag, not next to your mat. You will be able to move easier without fear of breaking or scratching anything, and neither you or your teacher will trip. This also applies to flared pant legs, socks, leg warmers, and scarves. Practice at your own risk.
-Avoid street clothes in public studios. People have gone through effort to create a sacred space for others to practice in. Bring a change of clothing and give yourself a chance to leave any stress, negative energy, or dirt outside with your shoes. Use the time it takes to change into your yoga gear to slow down and prepare yourself for class. This also ensures you don’t leave the studio all sweaty because you’ve got an extra pair of pants, Dapper Dan(iella).
-It's not about what you wear, it's how you wear it. Ultimately, it all comes down to getting on that mat and doing yoga. Don't worry about how it looks, be aware of how it feels. Set yourself up for greatness by getting comfortable. A little bit of comfort can go a long way.
To learn more about yoga, check out our video course The Complete Guide To Yoga With Tara Stiles.
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