What to Wear for Hot Yoga
The practice of hot, or Bikram, yoga is based upon the notion that warm muscles are flexible and thus more conducive to yoga exercise. Contrary to popular belief, hot yoga does not burn more calories or eliminate an excessive amount of toxins.. However, even without these benefits, hot yoga is still a beneficial exercise and worth a try for most people. If you are considering taking up hot yoga, make sure to wear the correct clothing, because that mean the difference between an enjoyable experience and a miserable one.
Necessary Clothing Qualities
Requirements for hot yoga clothing are a bit more specific than that for regular yoga classes because of the addition of extreme heat. Because sweat will be pouring out of your pores in a very short amount of time, clothing needs to be breathable, facilitate, not restrict, movement, tight (because baggy clothing traps heat and tends to be distracting by not staying in place), not made of cotton (cotton holds water, becomes soggy quickly, and gets very heavy—in other words, doing hot yoga in cotton clothing is incredibly uncomfortable), not become see-through when wet or when you bend (unless you want to give your classmates and instructor a free show) and sweat absorbent (if you prefer clothing that is not sweat-absorbent, then invest in a good yoga towel, as the sweat from your body will make your mat extremely slippery). Your go-to materials should be things like Spandex and sweat-wicking fabrics that fit snugly, not only to keep you from feeling soggy, but to allow your instructor to check your alignment.
Hot Yoga Pants and Capris
Yoga pants and capris are good choices for you if you do not like using a yoga towel or if you are a more modest yoga practitioner. Pants and capris keep sweat from your legs from falling onto your yoga mat, meaning that it is less slippery and safer for doing yoga poses. Similarly, it keeps a barrier between your sweaty legs and the mat, meaning you won’t slide when your legs come into contact with the mat. Nothing messes up calm meditation more that settling into a pose, slipping, and faceplanting onto the mat.
When purchasing yoga pants or capris, you should make sure that they are not cotton, but made of a fabric that is absorbent without becoming heavy or soggy, as well as breathable. They should fit you tightly, as loose clothing will trap heat and allow sweat to run freely, but not be too small as too small clothing can become see-through when it is stretched (such as when you bend). Good pants to try are Mika Aeriel Capri in Rainbow Sherbet, which are super-cute yoga capris that fit like a second skin. They are a little longer than the average capri pant, but still incredibly comfortable and feature a wide waistband that helps them stay in place. Plus, the material is extremely soft and light. (For those who aren’t fans of the rainbow sherbet, it does come in different prints.) Also, the Mika Gaby Pant– a cross between a pair of leggings and a pair of pants and so comfortable. The waistband is flattering and seamless and allows for a tight and compressed fit.
Hot Yoga Shorts
Most hot yoga guides will tell you to wear shorts because most people cannot take the combined heat of the 105° room plus a pair of pants. Hot yoga shorts are for you if you prefer the freedom of uncovered legs, as well as the unrestricted air flow that shorts offer. However, during a hot yoga session, your legs with get extremely sweaty and if you do not want to be slipping and sliding all over your mat, a yoga towel will be vital to your safety. Once again, always keep in mind that it does not matter how in-shape you are, you will be pouring sweat only a short while after class begins; after all, not only is the room over 100°, but the group of people in the room make it even hotter. Biker and running shorts work well for Bikram yoga, as long as they are made of quick-drying and moisture-wicking material, but there are special hot yoga shorts as well. Check out products like Shakti’s Hot Shorts, Sweaty Betty’s Bikram Yoga Shorts, Yoga Smoga’s Sweet ‘n Short, or Mika’s Luna Short.
A note about underwear: The “no cotton” rule extends to underwear. Buy some underwear made of the same kind of sweat-wicking material that your pants or shorts are made from and ALWAYS be sure to wear them. Do not go commando to hot yoga (or regular yoga) .
Hot Yoga Tops
In hot yoga, the best top is one that will keep you cool, keep your bits in place (this is why bikini tops are not ideal—the potential for your breasts to pop out and say, “HI!” is way too great), and most importantly, is comfortable to you. Once again, opt for materials like Spandex or other performance fabric that dries quickly and is moisture-wicking. An extra consideration here is chest size. Unsupported breasts can be extremely uncomfortable during a hot yoga session, so unless you are quite flat-chested and rarely find yourself in need of support, wear a top that is either a sports bra, or a tank top that has built in support. Whichever you choose, you want to make sure that it keeps the breasts in place; it is very hard to relax and fully submerge yourself in your yoga experience if you are constantly worried about flashing your fellow yogis and instructor. Of course, tops should be tight-fitting to allow the instructor to see your alignment and to ensure that you are not bothered by sweaty, heavy, and clingy fabric. The Lissa top from Mika is a good middle ground between a sports bra and a tank top—it offers full breast coverage but the midriff is still bare, keeping you nice and cool. The Lynn top is another midway option, stopping at the waist, but with less coverage on the breasts than the Lissa top.