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So you’re going to your first yoga class. You’re probably looking forward to stretching all sorts of muscles you didn’t even know you had, and maybe you’re even hoping to impress your family by returning home as a newly enlightened, imperturbable “Zen master.” But suddenly it hits you: “What do people wear to these things?!”
You have no idea! Will your running gear work? Can you wear sweats, or will that make you look like a slob next to a bunch of flawless, flexible yoga-fairies?
Don’t panic – this article has your back. Here are some common fashion mistakes that a lot of beginner yogis make, along with some more appropriate alternatives:
1) Wearing loose shirts.
At the top of the list of offenders are oversized t-shirts and other similarly loose tops. Don’t do it, ladies. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, of course, so, if you commit this “fashion crime,” you’ll likely find yourself spending half the class in downward dog (a yoga pose that turns you into an inverted “V” with your rear end up in the air) and showing off your exposed torso to your neighbors. Men can get away with this, of course, but it’s still a pain to have your shirt sliding down toward your face, so you’ll definitely be happier choosing something different.
Try this instead: Wear something form-fitting, but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable or makes it more difficult to bend and flex. If you’ll be doing a type of yoga involving a lot of movement or a heated room, opt for a moisture-wicking tank top, if possible; on the other hand, if you expect it to be pretty low-impact, even long sleeves can be just fine.
2) Keeping your shoes on.
A lot of people do this, for some reason. Maybe they are worried about germs being exchanged between feet and the yoga mat or something; who knows. But, for the best experience, take off your shoes before getting on the mat. If you don’t, you’ll prevent your foot/ankle from getting the stretch benefit of yoga, and you’ll end up sitting uncomfortably on your shoes at some point.
Try this instead: Both socks and bare feet seem to be fine (but the acceptability of each varies from place to place, so check out what your neighbors are doing and follow suit). However, if you opt for socks, either find a non-slip “grippy” pair or be careful to keep your feet on the mat to avoid the risk of slipping on a low-friction floor and landing on your face.
3) Wearing pants that are too long.
It’s perfectly fine to wear pants, and even sweatpants, if those are what you’re comfortable with, both fit-wise and temperature-wise. Just don’t choose a pair that you’ll be tripping over! Also, keep in mind that most people will be wearing fabrics lighter than sweats – athletic gear is probably the most common – and that jeans are definitely not an appropriate choice.
Try this instead: Non-revealing (in other words: nobody wants to see your rear when you bend over) shorts are usually a good choice, particularly those that are intended for athletics. Capris are also a sure bet.
4) Wearing your hair down.
It will get in your face. And, when it’s not in your face, you’ll be uncomfortably warm, and hair will be sticking to your sweaty face.
Try this instead: A ponytail or bun can work for some people, but if you’ll be lying on your back (which occurs in most yoga classes), you’ll end up with a ponytail pillow, which is far from relaxing. For long hair, braiding is usually a good choice (e.g., French braid, braided pigtails). But, if that won’t work for you, at least make sure to have a comfortable elastic headband (or something similar) to keep your hair out of your face. When in doubt, always bring a spare hair tie.
These guidelines may seem like common sense, but a surprising number of people fail to follow them, and they may even end up having a bad experience with yoga as a result. Always take a second to think before you “suit up” for yoga. You’ll be more comfortable, “fit in” with the other yogis, and have an overall more pleasant yoga session.