What to Wear in a Yoga Class – A Practical Guide

What to Wear in a Yoga Class - A Practical Guide - Yoga After 40

Yoga has found a niche in the fashion world. A search on yoga yields photos of sexy women. It’s easy to buy clothing based on image alone. But there are other things to consider.

This post offers tips on what to consider for your yoga wardrobe. It provides a practical guide on what to wear in a yoga class.

Over 40 and Fabulous

Ladies don’t think that you are too old to wear leggings and a cute yoga top.  Yes, 20-year-olds look good in yoga clothing.  You can too.

I’ve seen women in their 50’s and 60’s rock form fitting yoga outfits.  One woman comes to mind.  She is a beautiful person in general.  She’s always smiling and beams joy.  It’s about attitude.  Enjoy finding comfortable clothing that you feel good wearing.

The Yoga Market is Growing

According a 2016 Yoga in America Study, people spent $16B on yoga. They bought clothing, equipment, classes and accessories. This was a 60% increase from $10 billion in 2012.

That same year, 36 million people were practicing yoga. This was a 76% increase from 20.4 million in 2012.

The study states:

Yoga is for everybody. There are more males and older practitioners than ever before”. It goes on to say that 10 million men were practicing yoga. 14 million people over 50 were also practicing. In 2012, 4 million men and 4 million people over 50 were practicing.

As the yoga market grows, more purchasing options are available. No shortage of clothing for yoga exists. But there are things to consider before shopping.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What kind of yoga will you practice? The kind of class you attend will dictate what you wear. See my post, “How to Find a Yoga Class for People Over 40” to find a class for you.
  • How often do you intend to practice? If you practice 1-3 times a week, you don’t need many outfits. You can wash clothing in between classes. If you intend to practice 6 days a week, look for sales or join a VIP program.
  • What’s your budget? Yoga clothing can be pricey. New yoga leggings can cost $100. Women’s tops can cost $70. Consider how much you want to spend. If you are on a budget practice in a T-shirt and long shorts or sweatpants.

Comfort is Key

We all want to fit in and look good. Don’t get absorbed in how you look. Instead, focus on how you feel. Buy clothing that is comfortable. Make sure it makes sense for the type of class you are attending.

Woman in Marichyasana A Pose - Yoga After FortyFor a class with movement, wear something that hugs your body. This way you don’t expose your private parts when you are upside or with open legs.

Clothing that hugs won’t get in the way of binding hands in poses.

For Hot Yoga, wear as little as possible. The room will be 105 degrees. Buy clothing made for hot yoga.

If you are taking Yin or Restorative you can wear baggy clothing. You may want to wear layers.

If it’s cold outside, wear layers to class. That way you can take off your sweat drenched clothing after class.

Avoid zippers and buttons. They might not feel comfortable if you lay on them.

The main thing is to feel good. Only you can determine what that looks like. Age doesn’t matter.

Embrace Your Natural Funkiness!

Accept the smell of sweat. Please, don’t wear perfume or cologne to class. Avoid wearing essential oils or anything with a strong scent. Use deodorant and nothing else.

Consider your classmates. Some people have allergies. Others don’t like synthetic scents. Accept that sweat doesn’t smell good and varies by person.

If you don’t like how your practice smells, consider changing your diet. My meat-eating friends smell different from my vegetarian friends. The same is true for my alcohol-drinking vs non-drinking friends.

Save Your Jewelry for Outside Class

Upward Dog Avoid wearing long necklaces and earrings. I like to take my watch and rings off. Rings can get in the way of finger pressing poses.

A good example is Sun Salutations. Your fingers should be flat on the ground from Push Up through Downward Dog. Pushing your fingers into the ground protects wrists and shoulders.

Please don’t wear a noisy ankle bracelet to class. It can be distracting. It’s especially annoying in an Ashtanga Mysore class. It’s like practicing in a room with a cat that has a bell on it. Be considerate of your classmates.

The Unspeakable

We need to talk about feet. 5% of Americans have foot fungus and plantar warts. This number increases with age. It goes to 20% for people over 60.

Foot fungus and the wart virus love warm, moist places. People get infections in showers and locker rooms. That’s why it’s good to wear flip flops in public showers.  Yoga mats are another source of infection.

Yoga studios clean their rental mats after use. In some gyms, students are supposed to clean gym mats themselves. People forget.

If you aren’t using your own mat, please consider Vibram 5 Fingers shoes.

Vibrams are comfortable and grip the mat. They are a little clunky but work. Toes are separate allowing you to grab your big toe.

These shoes help if you have foot fungus or warts. They prevent you from spreading the infection. If you feel self-conscious, they are a good way to cover your feet.

For yoga, the classic or simple style works best. You can wear them outside class for water sports and walking.

Shorts Can Improve Your Practice

Pants create a layer between skin on skin in poses. If you’re sweating a lot, they create friction so that you don’t slip. This is good and bad. It’s good because it helps you get into poses. It’s bad because it limits you building strength. If you want to challenge yourself, wear Hot Yoga shorts. They may improve your practice in the long run.

Online Resources

Women in Warrior Pose - Yoga After FortyYou can buy yoga clothing in stores that sell active wear. Marshalls and TJ-Maxx are good if you are on a small budget. Below is a list of brands that have a higher price tag.

  • Athleta is owned by the Gap. If you like Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic this is a good brand for you.
  • Beyond Yoga offers active wear for women of all shapes and sizes. Sizes range from XXXS to 3X. They manufacture in California.
  • Fabletics is Kate Hudson’s line of active wear. Sizes range from XXXS to 3X. They have a VIP program. This program offers great savings.
  • Hardtail Forever has beautiful clothing including harem pants. It’s a family business and they manufacture in the US. This is a great brand! It’s my favorite.
  • Lululemon is a popular Canadian company. They focus on technical athletic clothing. They offer good clothing for men and women.
  • prAna focuses on sustainable products. They offer organic cotton, recycled wool, hemp and more.
  • Shakti Activewear is my favorite brand for Bikram or Hot Yoga. Their shorts are awesome.
  • Yoga Outlet is an online store that sells many brands. They have a large sale section.

What to Wear Outside Class

Many women stop wearing high heels as they get older.  If you want to dive into yoga, wear flat shoes. Please don’t wear heels or stilettos. I know high heels make your butt look good. But, they are hard on the back and on the hamstrings. You will have a better practice if you go with flats.

Another thing you can do is to wear toe socks. You may wear them in class or at home. Like Vibrams, toe socks spread your toes out. This creates a broader foundation for balancing.

Injini sells socks for both men and women. They focus on performance and fibers.

ToeSox has socks only for women. They have styles for yoga class and for casual wear.

Active Wear is the New Casual

Remember that you can wear whatever you buy for class in other settings. Saturday Night Live (SNL) made a great skit on this topic. If you don’t like SNL humor, please skip ahead.

Enjoy Yourself

Whatever you wear to class, make sure you feel good. If you enjoy it, invest money in your yoga wardrobe. If you are on a budget, go for sales and simple styles. Consider what kind of class you are going to. Create comfort for yourself. Consider your fellow yogis.

I hope this post has brought you new insight! Please share your tips on what to wear in the comments below.

Thank you for reading this.  Have a happy practice!




  1. Hi Nora, what a fantastic and informative post!
    I love the tips on what to wear during a yoga class. You are so spot on with the point you make about wearing the right clothing, as I made a clothing blunder when I first started Bikram Yoga a few years ago. I had NO idea what I was letting myself in for, and I actually thought it would be a good idea to wear pale coloured polyester leggings. They just ended up saturated in sweat and totally see-through, plus I had a rash all over my body because my clothes weren’t breathable, it was awful!

    I have learnt my lesson since then and now have the proper gear, though I just do my yoga at home these days. I do the sun salutation a lot and you actually gave me another great tip about pushing your fingertips into the floor to save your wrists. I don’t do this but I will from now on.

    Such valuable information in this post; it is so easy to do yourself an injury (I have many times) when you don’t know how to do the poses properly.

    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Stefanie,

      Thank you for the feedback! Oh my! That sounds like an unpleasant first-time yoga experience at Bikram! Glad you were able to continue practicing. My yoga clothes are an important part of my wardrobe. On weekends I practically live in them.

      Yes, I agree with you that it is easy to injure yourself in yoga. Many people do. If you are not practicing with good alignment, over time you can create problems for yourself. But it’s hard to know what good alignment is since we are not used to it.

      I have injured myself over the years and now will back off instead of pushing through a pose. Getting older has made me a little wiser – thank goodness 🙂

      Thank you again for sharing your hot yoga clothing malfunction experience! Lesson learned!!!!

  2. Thanks Nora for this detailed guide on what to wear to a yoga class. Being a simple t-shirt and yoga pants guy, I never really thought much about this.

    You brought up good points such as wearing clothes that are more body hugging. Also, to be considerate by wearing footwear if we are using mats from the yoga centre. I prefer to use my own yoga mat. Still, this is a very good point.

    I have friends who practice yoga too. And I will share this with them. Once again, thank you Nora! 🙂

    • Hi Timotheus,

      T-shirt and yoga pants are great. The main thing is that you are practicing. Clothing matters more if you are practicing 6 days a week – or living in it like I do on weekends. Yes, foot care is important. Thank you for giving feedback and sharing with your friends.

  3. Just started yoga anout 6 months ago. Love it and your post. Stilletos, really, lol! Simple shirt and yoga pants here, I think by WalMart, lol.

    • Hi Mary,

      Thank you for sharing. Simple shirt and yoga pants sounds great! The main thing is that you are practicing – and not wearing Stilletos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *