I’m not super into the whole popular modern yoga look. I don’t wear the neon luon nor the flowy Ganesha shirts and the many layers of malas. But…if I looked and lived like Christy Turlington, I would always do Second Series in a satin jumpsuit. Anyways, that’s besides the point. Despite my dislike of both the hippy-dippy yoga flow look and the obnoxiously bright and sporty spandex route, I don’t do my asana practice naked.
Clothes are part of the deal and having the right clothes for my practice helps. I learned the lesson the hard way. In my naive, pre-Ashtanga days, I bought these two overpriced (but very pretty!) yoga tops that just didn’t cut it when you’re a C cup and actually doing repeated vinyasas. Pop! Yea, that’s a bit distracting. As is the tugging and readjusting of ill-fitting tights or straps in the middle of an asana.
Nowadays, before I buy any new piece of clothing for yoga, I always step out of the dressing room and do a few vinyasas. I feel kind of silly/pretentious doing this, but it’s a good and necessary test for proper fit.
Of course you can wear just about any old pair of stretchy pants and shirt for practice, but everyone has their preferences. For example, I like mid-calf tight leggings, not long flowy pants. I like skinny strap shirts with built-ins, not the top over a sports bra thing. I’m not keen on dropping a fortune on clothes that I’m just going to practice in, but I also believe that since I wear them so frequently, it’s important to buy pieces that will last.
I sometimes go the route of buying inexpensive Uniqlo or American Apparel leggings for practice, but I find that they don’t hold up that well with the beating of repeated wear and wash. In addition, they don’t exactly move in the same way that a specifically-designed yoga pant does. I know that sounds ridiculous but for me, it’s true. Even so, I do have a bright red pair of AA leggings that I consider my “lucky” pants because I was wearing them on the day that I first stood up from my backbends and later on the day that I first dropped back by myself. I adore these leggings, but the elastic has pretty much come unattached. Sadness…
This is rather a mundane topic (my husband is probably rolling his eyes right now as he reads this), but it’s not totally unimportant and it is one that I have a bit too much experience with. This is mostly because of how incredibly lazy I am when it comes to doing laundry. There was a period back in VA when I was teaching 7 yoga classes a week and practicing Mysore in a sweaty studio 6 days a week as well as going to at least one Pilates class. That’s a lot of laundry….so I just kept on “investing” in more clothes to bring my laundry down to 2 days a week.
Because I wear these outfits so much, I don’t mind shelling out a bit of extra dough here and there, which is to say, I do buy some pricier name-brand yoga clothing, like Prana. But, I almost never buy anything at full price because the Lululemon level pricing is a bit absurd, especially since you know their factory laborers aren’t getting squat. I take full advantage of my teacher discounts and I shamelessly accept free clothes from Research and Development or whoever else wants to clothe me. I do get squeamish feelings in my tummy about the corporate philosophy and some of the policies of Lululemon but I do love my two pairs of Wunder Unders, so . Personally, the Lulu tops aren’t a great fit for me. They seem to be designed for long-waisted, straight-sided, flat girls, not simultaneously tiny and curvy ones like me. My one favorite Lulu top (the only one that fits me properly) has an adjustable bust strap and I had it altered so it wasn’t so incredibly long.
I prefer the feel of cotton, like my Hard Tail tights, rather than the slippery synthetic fabrics that is more ubiquitous in yoga wear. I normally wear capris or mid-calf length pants. I’ve never been into showing that much skin. It rarely ever feels necessary to me. It takes a whole lot of heat and intensity for me to break a sweat (and I do not have the most loving relationship with my thighs) so shorts have never appealed to me. On that note, I am mystified by the whole bandeau top trend. How does that even work!? I guess you have to be utterly flat to pull that off. Halter-top yoga shirts seem like a impractical idea as well. The tie gets in the way in poses like shoulderstand, plus I feel like that tie just creeps up the neck and causes tension. Maybe that’s just me…
One thing that I find challenging when choosing yoga clothes these days is that fact that many popular lines are designed more yoga “lifestyle” clothes than actually appropriate practice attire. I want my clothes for practice to be flexible, comfortable and secure. I don’t feel the need for all the superfluous design stuff, the ruffles, the hidden pockets, the zippers, the bedazzly stuff.
Recently a friend sent me a few pieces from a new line called Steelcore. This company makes a lot of dance/Pilates stuff so it doesn’t have quite the typical yoga look. It moves really nicely and is all made in the USA (hard to come by these days!). I definitely like mixing up my style and trying new brands. It can be a bit blah to feel like you’re just wearing the standard uniform (that’s one more thing that makes me less interested in wearing Lulu!).
Do you have a favorite brand for yoga clothing? Or a favorite “lucky” outfit? I’m always up for learning about other less mainstream companies.