Previously I used to scoff and pity those yogis who bought expensive yoga gear to practice in. It seemed very absurd to me to spend a lot of money on a hobby that can literally be practiced anywhere, at anytime, and in any clothes, ok well maybe not a great idea to float into bakasana in a mini skirt, but you know what I mean.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always practiced in typical sweats bought at any box store, and I never had any personal complaints. The clothes I practiced in never really had any positive or negative effect on my practice. All was well.
To a degree I still feel that way, with a few exceptions. Primarily, practicing in the heat. Whether you love that odd feeling of “it hurst so much it feels good” that you purposefully attend yoga classes at hot yoga studios and practice in the heat and humidity that is pumped into the room and then increased by the twenty other yogis sweating it up next to you, or if you find yourself practicing in a naturally hot and humid atmosphere, say for example, in Costa Rica (where I first deeply fell in love with my practice,) in those cases technical wear might be the best option for you. Clothing made out of material that won’t retain the heat and in which sweat can “wick away” can really make your practice much more comfortable. And nobody likes to be the girl with the visible sweat soaked T-shirt after class!
However! Let me interject here with another strong belief that I hold: I try my best to be aware of the materials that I wear during practice. Spandex and similar materials are great for stretch and advanced technology has made yoga clothes comfortable, stylish, and breathable, but those synthetic fabrics are chemically made and our skin is a living, breathing organ that absorbs. For that reason, I try to practice in cotton (organic cotton even better!) or merino wool in the winter (a very light weight, movable, breathable wool that wicks away moisture.)
Another product to consider using is a yoga towel that stretches the length of your mat and soaks up the drips that you drop. I’ve been using my towel regularly for years now and it’s made a huge difference in my ability to not slip ‘n slide during asanas. I have no brand preference and microfiber yoga towels with rubbery pads on the bottom that adhere to your mat or the floor can be found online or in a lot of shops that sell yoga accessories. My towel was found and purchased from TJ Maxx actually and it works just fine.
You may have gotten the vibe that by no means am I a loyalist to any brand or label. In fact I have never actually purchased any top names of the yoga clothing industry. I have been fortunate enough to have friends hand their gently used items down to me; I am oh-so-grateful to those thoughtful friends, too, by the way! Reason one why I haven’t purchased on my own is that I don’t see the value in spending over $50 on a tank top. To support a great company that uses sustainable materials and ecofriendly methods maybe, but I haven’t found that perfect company yet to fall in love with. Reason two is that I am making an effort to consume less, but more details on that in a coming post.
When it comes to a milder climate practice or winter practice, then I say wear whatever you feel comfortable in. During my winter practice I wear yoga pants, sweat pants, leggings, whatever. I’m much more conscientious of my outfit when I teach however, for it is important that students are able to see what’s going on with my ankles and knees when I demo poses, so no flowy pants. On top a track style neckline on a hoodie or sweater are most preferable because a hood can become annoying in Downdog or other inversions or forward folds. A simple crew neck sweatshirt is another viable option.
My last recommendation on yoga products is about the surface of practice itself- the practical yoga mat. For years I practiced on a standard Gaiam mat. I never had any complaints, loved the print and color, and it held up after more than three years of practice, albeit with some stains. The reason why I upgraded to a Manduka ekotravel mat is twofold. Primarily, I wanted to practice on a natural material. Throughout the practice we stick our noses right down in our mats from all the chaturungas and work on the belly, and if the mat you practice on is made out of plastics or chemicals, then it straight up stinks. I hate the idea of deeply inhaling those chemicals throughout my practice, so I upgraded. Yes, the mat is made from natural rubber and therefore had a unique stench to it itself, but I quite enjoyed that smell and anyway it dissipated after about two months. Plus, it was designed to travel with so it folds up to a remarkably small size and can be taken with me anywhere.
To conclude, there’s no need to spend a fortune on your yoga practice. I really dislike how commercial yoga has become and how much of an industry rather than a lifestyle it is marketed as in the west. There are times and reasons to require technical yoga gear, and once you buy a quality piece of clothing or mat, then it is more than likely going to last you years. Even better if you do some homework and find companies that produce eco products in a sustainable manner. To be even more sustainable, give a friend’s hand me downs a second home or shop from a consignment shop. Recently I learned of this site where you can buy and sell all sorts of clothing online. And if you like to treat yourself to nice pieces of yoga clothing, then great, there’s nothing wrong with that, just let me know when you tire of them!
Here’s a small gallery of myself in practical, everyday wear.