Oh What to Wear to Yoga!

mmm I am sure many thousands of hours have been spent contemplating this one around the globe 🙂

For Bikram Yoga keep it simple; less is more. MODESTY PREVAILING of course! ALL the essential bits must be covered. Yes, the more area of flesh that you can expose the better for the cooling down process (this is dealt with in other posts).  But mental and physical COMFORT IS PRIMARY. This post however is more about getting the happy balance between ‘less is more’ and ‘non-exposure’ :). Having done this since 1998 I have witnessed faux pas and got caught out myself on occasion!  The innocent wearing of the white top only to find it has gone transparent from sweat revealing a bit more than the wearer intended; But did you know some studios ban white tops because of this? Me, I think that one step too far; once the person discovers they have become ‘transparent’… it never happens again 🙂 .

For teaching I tend to wear tops that cover torso but I would never consider wearing those to practice in unless I felt it too cold – I tend to go for the small tube type vest tops.  I find many sports and Yoga vest/tops too expensive.  Being small I often get lucky in the second hand shops picking up one for £3 / £4 v. the £45 / £50 new.  The rare occasion I buy new I go for sales and cheaper end of scale. A couple of years ago I thought I got lucky picking up a pink and a black top reasonably cheap in sale for me to teach in; it is nice to wear ‘new’ now and then.  My horror when I realised during the class whilst demonstrating that as the top got wet and I rounded down it hung far too low (away from my torso) because of the weight of the sweat, revealing what little I have to the world.  This is an absolute no no whilst teaching; I have to wear another layer under those two tops to protect my modesty now and after countless washing they have both gone gray (despite their colour at the outset); they just did not ‘wear’ well in the short or long term.  Sometimes it is wise to invest in a bit more to get longer wear out of an item.  I still wear Yoga clothes I bought 10/12 years ago which I had a bit more spare cash and they haven’t fallen apart yet and still have good elasticity and colour.

But what prompted this post was my recent investment in 2 new tube vest tops; good prices, advertised as being for hot Yoga.  Perfect to practice in I thought and I haven’t had anything brand new in ages.  Again. The horror as I round down in standing head to knee and gave myself an eyeful; put me right off my balancing it did as I tried to rearrange my shoulders for modesty just in case the teacher was near. Sigh, waste of money; back to the old faithfuls.  So when investing think about how your item will behave when it gets wet.  Shorts too! you should definitely give them the old ‘standing forward fold in front of the mirror’ test ladies before they get an outing 😉

MEN TOO need to think about their shorts for some positions; particularly when lifting their legs or when they are in some floor postures.  Personally, as a teacher and practitioner, I have seen it all and it really doesn’t bother me in the slightest; nothing external to my mat (short of a streaker in the room) will get in the way of my Yoga practice 🙂 ; however other practitioners may be new, younger or more sensitive and it could pose a bit of a distraction if they got too much visual information (if you see what I mean).  So I recommend gentlemen consider the fit of your Yoga attire, comfort all important but modesty too; consider the lining of your shorts, that they have lining! wearing dark pants  underneath might also be necessary.  Consider the material how it moves; especially when it gets wet; are you going to get trapped in it? is it going to get in your way or restrict your movement? You really don’t want your clothing to be a distraction or a waste of your energy; shorts that require minimal attention/adjusting are definitely going to be better and worth investing in the right pair if you are a regular practitioner.

Also, please do not wear tops to class that have rude pictures or words on them; remember you are coming to a dedicated Yoga studio, a place that many people feel has a sanctity for them; if you forget you can just turn the offending top inside out.

For the shy amongst you still resisting the short top/short shorts ideal for Bikram practice; I totally understand.  It took three years to get myself into a pair of shorts, so I know how you feel.  If you look at the before/after picture on this blog, the story it tells is as follows: I always wore long top, long leggings day in day out, 2 classes a day on training until they literally came apart at the seams. With little money to be investing in ‘proper’ new leggings in LA (tight budget on the TTC) I ended up buying cheap supermarket ‘underwear’ to wear for the remainder of the training! You can even see my tattoo through the shorts as they became transparent when wet AND I DIDN’T CARE! This was progress for me; from one extreme to the other I know but when needs must! In the moment it didn’t matter. I never looked back, the FREEDOM it gave, it was like the shedding of an extra layer of skin. For those who ‘complain’ about heat, really you really have to look to yourself and what you are wearing in the first instance; Our short tops/shorts in Bikram class are not a vanity thing but a practical thing folks!

Any funny experiences on this you may wish to share are welcome 🙂

Om Om Om ~ free your body



Post Script added July 2019… Whilst practicing to my trustee Bikram method cd this week I laughed when he reminded “I don’t like {long} pant in my class”; so many disciplines have a uniform out there: Karate whites, ballet/gym leotards and in our discipline Bikram uniform shorts/speedos ( 😉) altho’ it has been a while since a pair of speedos have rocked up to class LOL 🙂 .  Anyway I digress 🙂 .  When new people ask prior to first class what they should wear we ALWAYS say whatever you are most comfortable in so long as bare arms/neck (personal belief system requirements aside which we always honor) and no baggy clothing that clings when wet. Many tend to go with the crowd what they see others wearing, hence our studio full of long leggings; but practitioners should know that there are many studios around the world where shorts are the norm because that is what new people see others are wearing and that carries/prevails. That said, being Bikram method instructors we would be remiss if we didn’t over time try to inform our practitioners to open up their options and help individuals have a better different type of experience that a different choice of clothing might give them.   At YM it is our job, if you like to give ‘detailed analysis and assessment of something {that something in this case being everything related to Bikram method that we practice}, especially a literary, philosophical…’ This is what is called a critique. Yup we will. This is part of our offerings at YM. We give our practitioners more because we think they deserve more.   We don’t force the shorts thing. People are autonomous after all; we joke about it a lot in class with our practitioners, we can get a good old banter going about it in our Yoga school, we share it more online in the summer months because it is more hot/humid all around and we will continue to share this blog ‘oh what to wear to Yoga’ and if it encourages one person a year to have a different better cooler experience for them then it is worth it; if people aren’t ready to make that change this year or they are quite comfortable as they are forever HEY! We are REALLY good with that too! It is ALWAYS a personal choice; BUT we will remain devoted to keeping you informed and up to date on everything to do with your Bikram Yoga world folks so you can make informed choices…

ps look what everyone around me in the pics is wearing… ;)