What To Wear To Yoga (And What To Bring With You!)

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Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta
Updated on October 16, 2020
Expert Content

So you’re ready for your first Yoga class.

But what should you wear and what are some of the things you should bring with you?

We asked a selected group of experts to share their tips and recommendations when it comes to preparing for your first yoga class.

Here’s what they said.

Aim For Comfort And Practicality

Kate Hamm, Founder of AnamBliss

With athleisure taking over the fashion industry, dressing for yoga and fitness classes is easier than it was years ago.

One of the first things to look for is comfort level. Can you wear and move in the outfit for the length of the class?

This is especially true on the cut of the waist. Will the pants roll down?

It’s also always good to see how see-through the pants are. Whenever I’m trying on new clothes from any brand, I bend over to touch my toes and see what I notice behind me. It can save you from everyone knowing you have hearts on your underwear.

In regards to tops, having a super loose top will have it slide down your body in Down Dog. Having something a bit more form fitting will be better.

For men, if you are wearing baggy shorts, please wear boxer briefs or something supportive underneath. Many have looked up to see what the teacher is doing, only to get to see all of a guy in front of them. It’ll help everyone stay focused on the class if you do.

It’s always been a good habit to look at the suggestions of the studio prior to arriving to be prepared, and with Covid there may be more information needed. If you are in doubt, call or email the studio.

Some common recommendations are:

• Not to wear scents or jewellery. Many people are allergic to perfumes and studios like to be a safe space for everyone. In regards to jewellery, I’ve been smacked in the face with a necklace as I move and it can be distracting to avoid.

• Don’t eat two to three hours before the class. When you are twisting or exerting yourself in a more physical class, the last thing you want is to revisit your meal.

• Bring your own mat if you have one. Many studios aren’t putting out props, mats, or anything else. You may not want to spend a lot of money until you know you’ll stick with yoga, so bring what makes sense. Even a towel can work. When I teach, I move around, so I’ve performed most poses on just the wood floor. A towel can provide some padding and something soft to lay on.

• Leave the majority of your items at home. Each studio is different as to where they allow bags. Some have cubbies inside the studio, while others have them outside the studio in the lobby. Try to bring just what you need and keep your phone off or on silent in your bag.

Trying something new can always be intimidating. Everyone else in the class will be focused on themselves and not on you. If it ever feels like too much, sit back into a Child’s Pose or take a break.

If you don’t love one class or style, try something and someone else. There are many different styles of yoga and a ton of different teachers and you’ll find someone for you.

Yoga Class

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Wear A Fitted Top And Go For A Thicker Mat

Ginger Harris, Kuudose founding Certified Pilates Expert and Three-Decade Yoga Enthusiast

Congrats! You’re about to attend your first yoga class. Prepare to be blissed out.

However, before you get to that stage of nirvana, there are a few things you need to know.

First, wear comfy pants you feel secure about attempting to wrap your legs around your head in (joking, of course), but wear something that allows you to move.

Here’s what you want to shy away from: shorts that are too short, shorts that are loose, anything that’s see-through when you bend forward. You’ll be doing a lot of that and you want to keep it modest.

Next, wear a fitted top. There is nothing worse than having your whole face covered when you are in downward dog so you can’t see what the teacher is teaching. Something fitted will stay put no matter what pose you wind up in.

The same goes for your hair, as you’ll be spending a portion of class upside down. Bring something to pull your hair back. To sock or not to sock, that is the question.

If you tend to get sweaty feet, grab a pair of socks with grip on the bottom. If you tend to grip with your toes, grab a pair with the toes cut out. But leave the regular socks at home. They will make you slip and slide instead of stick your poses.

You’ll also want to bring your mat. And make sure it’s one with a bit of thickness to it, as you’ll be spending a lot of time on it and the extra cushion will feel best on your spine, hips, wrists, etc.

A mat cover with grippers on the bottom will also help you from slipping and sliding, as yoga is a sweaty sport. Which is why it’s a fantastic way to get rid of all those yucky toxins and truly detox.

Now that you’re geared up, it’s time to tackle the poses. If the teacher calls out a sanskrit word and you have no idea what it means, just look at your neighbor.

I wish someone would have told me a long time ago that yoga isn’t a competition. Because I bent myself up like a pretzel trying to keep up with my neighbor. But that’s absolutely not what yoga is about.

It’s a self practice. And you are there to move at your own pace. So look around if you feel lost.

Don’t fret if your teacher corrects your position with a touch. Let yourself get lost in exploring your own strength and flexibility.

And lastly, don’t forget to breathe. Oh and try not to fall asleep during savasana. It’s tempting but it’s even more special if you can stay awake and meditate.

Think About Buying A Premium Yoga Mat

Kelly Clifton Turner, ERYT 500 and Director of Education for YogaSix

For the first 10 years I practiced yoga, I would use cheaper mats purchased at places like Tuesday Morning, Target, or Amazon. They did the trick, but would often fall apart or peel within a year or two.

The thought of spending $80 to 100 for a mat was insane when I could get one for $10-20 in other retailers. Once I made the leap, I finally got why the investment was worth it. I ended up buying a Manduka Pro Lite, which retails for about $80. I’ve had it now for over 10 years, and it’s still in perfect shape.

It’s also more supportive on my joints if I’m practicing somewhere with hardwood or tile floors.

For hot yoga, leggings that do well tend to be some sort of performance material… usually a synthetic blend that helps the pants keep their shape, and wick sweat.

A straight cotton fabric tends to become saturated and weigh down as the class goes on and the heat builds. Additionally, most students prefer a form fit in order to avoid getting tangled up.

Yoga vs Meditation

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Your Clothes Should Be Comfortable And Allow For Ease Of Movement

Donna Brown, Author and Certified Yoga Teacher

I teach two beginning yoga classes a week, one a regular mat class, and the other a chair class for those less mobile. They average between three to eight students per class, which allows us the luxury of socializing from a distance.

My students wear clothes designed for comfort rather than fashion, (i.e. either t-shirts and shorts, or leotard bottoms and loose-fitting tops).

Regardless of what you wear, I feel that clothes should be comfortable and allow for ease of movement.

Over the 20-plus years I’ve taught yoga, I’ve seen all types of attire, from yoga pants to stylish leotards that were so tight, I wondered how the students could even move!

I’ve also attended a hot yoga class where the instructor yelled out the poses over her headphone mic, and I don’t know if the horrible headache I had was due to severe dehydration, or from an ungodly decibel level of the teacher’s voice!

Perhaps beginner students should do some research on hot yoga classes and the inherent dangers of participation especially with those with cardiac and high blood pressure problems.

For first time students, I highly recommend bringing their own mat, one to two yoga blocks, a strap, and a towel or blanket to use as a cover or bolster to place under their head and/or knees to enhance deep relaxation at the end of class.

I suggest a student bring two blocks for use especially during the lunges that are part of Sun Salutations, to aid with balance and stability.

The strap is an invaluable prop that assists less flexible students with seated forward bends, such as Janu Sirsasana and Paschimottanasana.

Of course, there are nerves to deal with when attending your first class, and performance expectations are highest when they’re your own.

I tell my beginner students to not compare themselves with other students who have been attending for a longer period of time. The best message I give my students is, no pain, no pain!

Don’t Forget To Breathe!

Sherrell Moore-Tucker, Yoga Alliance Registered ERYT and Wellness Expert

Attending yoga for the very first time can be an intimidating experience but it doesn’t have to be when you’re prepared.

Consider wearing comfortable fitted clothing that you can freely move in with supportive undergarments.

Although you may feel comfortable in baggy clothes while participating in other movement activities, it may be distracting for you in a yoga class. Baggy or ill-fitting attire will move as you move versus moving with you.

The more you have to adjust your clothes, the more distracted you can become in your yoga practice.

Hydration and food consumption are also important. First, yoga is a movement and weight-bearing practice so as with any exercise hydration impacts movement.

As it relates to food, I typically suggest practicing on an empty stomach. But if that’s not feasible eat a light meal two to three hours before practicing yoga. Moving on the mat while your body is still processing a meal can be very uncomfortable even with a gentle yoga class so plan accordingly.

Instead of purchasing expensive yoga props find some household items that may be useful for your class. Consider using thick hardcovered books in place of yoga blocks. Instead of a yoga mat use a beach towel or two.

In closing, even if the instructor doesn’t cue the breath don’t forget to breathe throughout the class and have fun!

Water hydration

Remember to drink plenty of water before and after your class (Photo: Adobe Stock)

It’s OK To Just Lay On Your Mat!

Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and ISHTA Trained Yogi

I started yoga more than a decade ago and all there was were black yoga pants.

Yoga is about being who you authentically are – wear what you want as long as it is comfortable enough for you to lay on the floor and not care if it gets sweaty.

I personally love yoga clothes that have a little sparkle – it just makes me happy. I bought my last pair at Victoria’s Secret while buying a new bra!

Other than that, bring a mat in a color that you like and a water bottle (mine, of course, has sparkles).

And if its your first class, it’s OK just to lay on your mat – resting IS yoga, and we could all use more of it!

Remember To Bring Some Water – And A Smile!

Rachel Baer, Yoga Alliance Registered ERYT

I am currently teaching from home via Zoom as the senior centers where I teach are closed to classes for now due to Covid 19.

Usually, people attending my classes need to wear comfortable clothing and just bring a water bottle and possibly a soft cushion so sit on for my chair yoga classes. I supply everything else, including the chairs.

Comfortable clothing can be defined as yoga pants or other exercise pants that will not inhibit movement, a comfortable top that is not too tight that you can easily move and stretch in.

Chair yoga enables seniors to participate in yoga poses without having to get up and down from the floor and to be able to use the chair for support when practicing balance poses.

Last year, I had a 95-year-old woman trying yoga for the first time. She was so amazed that she could do it and she loved it. She is now a regular participant.

However, those joining me for my current Zoom classes will need to have a sturdy comfortable chair, preferably without arms so as not to limit movement.

They will need a non-slip surface to place the chair such as a yoga mat or on a carpet, with enough space to stretch out the legs in front, reach out the arms to the sides and have space to stand behind the chair, which is used for support.

Other items to have within easy reach are a yoga strap (can be substituted with a tie, scarf or towel) a yoga block (can be substituted with a shoe box, a book, water bottle) weights (can be substituted with cans of beans or water bottles)

Bring a water bottle to stay hydrated – and a smile is always great to “bring” with you to any yoga class.

Most important is the openness to try something new and to listen to your body. If a pose or move doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do it.