by Colleen McArthur
(Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
The main consideration when purchasing yoga clothing has to be the stretch. Yoga is a series of postures called “asanas” that come from the Hindu tradition in India and are designed to stretch the body to increase flexibility, strength, and unity of body and mind.
You will not want to wear anything that restricts your body from going as deeply as it can into any pose, so your yoga clothes will need to allow stretching in all directions. This gives you the choice of either very loose clothing that your limbs can move in freely, or clothes made of a stretchable fabric such as spandex.
Even with stretch fabric you may still want to buy a size larger than your usual size to allow for easy movement without any constriction.
Although yoga classes are deeply relaxing, they are also very physical and you should be prepared to sweat. How much depends on the style of yoga, but natural fabrics such as cotton are recommended for maximum comfort.
Many yoga students select a cotton/spandex mix which provides both stretch and sweat absorption.
Whatever you choose should be soft and comfortable. Generally the legs are covered completely by a pair of pants and the feet are bare. Do not try to practise yoga in a skirt – you will have problems when you want to try an inversion such as a headstand or shoulder stand!
For the shoulder stand it is better to have a separate top and pants rather than an all-in-one leotard or body suit. You can tuck in the top at the front so that it does not fall over your face, but leave the back open so that your hands are in direct contact with the skin either side of your spine for a better grip as you support your back in the pose.
Yoga practice improves the circulation of the blood around the body and it is important that your yoga clothing allows this to happen to the max.
Do not wear anything that is too tight around the waist – drawstring tie waists on your pants are better than elastic. A sports bra is recommended for women.
Whether you practice alone at home with a DVD on the television or in a class, it is important to feel good and accepting of your body during your yoga session so clothes do matter.
Although in most situations you will not need new fashionable yoga wear every season, it is important to wear something you like. Even at home, it is best not to wear something that is so old and worn that you would not let another person see you wearing it!
So do take the time to pick out something suitable that you feel good wearing, either from your wardrobe or from the store. It’s a great idea to practice a few poses in your new outfit before class too.
You can do this at home or even in the fitting room of the store. Then you can head for your first or your next yoga class with full confidence in your new yoga clothing.