Thoughts on Yoga Clothes... And Not in the Fashion Sense!

We always hear that what you wear makes a difference, right? Also true in Bikram Yoga class! I was one of those yoga students that wore leggings and a t-shirt to yoga when I started 6 years ago. I quickly learned cotton was no good in the hot room and it had to go. I substituted with sports tank tops and after a few more classes I realized that the leggings also had to go because it was a LOT cooler wearing shorts. When the studio had a yoga clothing trunk show I wondered if I bought real yoga clothes, would I'd come to yoga more often? Of course, I still wore a yoga tank top and long yoga shorts - but the new clothes I purchased were much more comfortable than. Every once in a while when I was at the studio, a teacher would suggest that I get a pair of string yoga shorts and a yoga bra top instead. At first, I thought they were crazy! I have not exposed my stomach in public in 22 years before my 3 kids were born and the thought of that was close to the nightmare that we ALL have had of showing up to school without your clothes on!

Then I decided to go to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training. At first, the training was booked in India (it got moved to Thailand which is almost as hot), and I realized if I was going to take 2 yoga classes a day in a hot room with 100+ people, I'd better think carefully about what I was going to wear. I learned we needed to hand wash our outfits each day because it was not possible to do laundry often due to the class/lecture schedule. More importantly, I was going into a program where NOTHING would be familiar or comfortable, so I decided I was going to make the switch to yoga bra tops and string shorts during training. I thought, what the heck, no one knows me, I'm getting totally out of my comfort zone anyway.

Little did I realize that the switch actually made a big difference! Although only 82 people were at the training, the room was HOT with no fans! I was glad I did not have my tank tops and long shorts there. Not only was I much cooler in class, I was able to see how my stomach moved during the poses - and we know how many times the dialogue says "suck your stomach in"- a lot! Similar to seeing how your knee locks when you go from pants to shorts, it's really helpful to know how to move your stomach. I kept hearing about how much core strength you use when you suck your stomach in. I realized that my new clothes in yoga were going to be helpful. Just like wearing the right clothes to go skiing (in the 80's I was the one skiing in jeans) you quickly learn how important the right clothes are when doing any sport. Yoga is no different!

All the women in training, every shape and size, wore little shorts and yoga bra tops - ages 21 to 73 alike! It felt very empowering and I realized how great everyone looked and we were all in it together. I forgot about being so self-conscious about my stomach and began looking for my ribs in the front mirror during class which actually made me work harder. It was a mental challenge but I soon found it as rewarding as being able to see my knee lock in the mirror. I now think much less about what I look like and more about how I feel - more comfortable and certainly cooler. Equally as important, I found the new clothes were much more freeing than trying to cover up my stomach and pretend it was not there.

We need to support each other in any and every way we can, ladies, so I encourage you to consider a yoga bra top to start. The shape of the yoga string shorts are also complimentary to all body types as proven in my training class which had 67 women wearing them. We always hear yoga is about YOU, not about the postures and how they look and this is one way to challenge your practice. Not only is it fun to buy cool new yoga clothes - you may even find that you practice more! Good luck!