Does My Butt Look Big in This? A Guide on What to Wear to Yoga Class

Downward dog

Hundreds of years ago, those who desired to make that journey to sacred places in search of enlightened yoga masters would not have thought much about their wardrobe choices. In fact, I am pretty confident they would have just turned up with whatever they happen to have lying in their stone carved wardrobes at the time.

Fast forward to our present time, global economy and technology advancements means you can be easily bombarded with the latest trend, latest sweat-wicking fabric, latest underwear that promises nobody will ever know that it was you who had silently dropped the gas bomb (yes, seriously!). And of course latest brand names and styles to allow you to go from home to yoga studio and then brunch and still manage to look like you just stepped out of Vogue.

Given the dizzying array of choices that enables one to feel confident and look good in their first yoga class, it also creates a minor risk for the uninitiated to commit some wardrobe blunders. There are some serious studies conducted proving the more choices that one is presented with, the more likely they are to be confused. Confusion, ladies and gentlemen, is how bad decisions usually happen.

Here are some tips to keep in mind before you step into you head to your first yoga class. Rest assured these tips are not meant for you to conform with the rest of the crowd, but rather some simple considerations so that your first yoga class can be safe, enjoyable and ultimately fulfilling:

1. Determine the type of yoga class you will be attending 

Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga would usually call for clothes that are close fitting and constructed from sweat-wicking fabric (e.g. Luxtreme by Lululemon, Dri-FIT by Nike) due to the warmer-than-usual temperature that the class is usually conducted in. Gentler forms of yoga such as Restorative or Yin Yoga will be appropriate to be performed in soft, slightly loose fitting comfortable clothes made of cotton or natural bamboo.

Why Comfort is priority in any type of yoga class you choose. If you are fidgeting with your top and pulling up on your pants half of the class, not only will you be distracted and unable to relax, the likeliness of injury is also increased as your focus moves away from balance and alignment to ensuring you don’t accidentally flash the man on the mat behind you.

2. Close fitting does not equate to “so tight until you cannot breathe” 

This simply means wearing sports bra, tank top and pants that fit you well. Sport bra or yoga tops with inbuilt support should hold your ‘girls’ in place while you flow from one pose to the other. They should not hug your chest and your ribcage so tightly that it makes breathing difficult. The same goes for yoga pants, the elastic band should sit comfortably on your waist or hip line and allow you to breathe as normal.

Why? Linking breath to movement is important in your yoga practice. If breathing is labored or constricted because of what you are wearing, you will not only feel light headed, but could also slow down blood circulation to where it is most needed.

3. Do the ‘Sheer Test’ test in the fitting room 

When you are shopping for yoga pants, do this simple test while you are in the fitting room. With your back to the mirror, plant your palms on the floor and walk your feet back until you are in a downward dog position. Look in between your knees into your mirror reflection and check if your underwear is showing through the pants.  If the material is thick enough you will not be able to see it. It would also help if you plan ahead and wear bright colored underwear just to be sure your pants pass through the ‘Sheer Test’. If you are in a small fitting room, bending over forward will also do the trick.

Here’s how to do a Downward Dog pose (Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svasana):  

Downward dog

Why? Same purpose as No. 1, although with less dire consequence than physical injuries. It is common courtesy not to parade your lacy La Senza knickers to the rest of the class (AND to the rest of the public for that matter). We love and respect your unique tastes and underwear choices, but please limit the show within the four walls of your own bedroom.

4. And finally, check that there are no holes and tears before you leave your house

And double check, triple check again before you step into your class. Surprisingly, this has been the most common faux-pas that I have encountered in my two short years of teaching. Of course, negligible tiny holes in your favorite t-shirt is completely fine, but fist-sized holes in your pants where they shouldn’t be (read: crotch area) are completely not.

Why? Because we already know flashing your mat-neighbour what they don’t want to see is rude.


Are there any other yoga faux-pas that just gets on your nerves? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!


Written by: Nabilla Sharil, a registered yoga teacher and founder of MindBodyBreath Malaysia.

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