Do You Need a Bra for Yoga? 10 Tips and Tricks for Women

Have you ever been rushing to your yoga class and arrive just on time only to realize you don’t have a bra to wear? Is it okay to go ahead with your class braless, or are you going to risk injuring yourself during your poses?

For some women, they may be perfectly comfortable going without a bra for yoga. For others, it may be a little more difficult. If you don’t find yourself physically uncomfortable going braless, you most likely aren’t doing any damage if you go without for a class or two. If you feel pain, it’s generally a sign that your body is not okay, and you may need to make adjustments.

So, what are your options when you go to yoga? Are certain bras better than others? If you decide not to wear a bra but still need a little support, what should you do? To find out, read on below for our list of tips and tricks to keep you comfortable.

Wearing a Bra for Yoga Can Be Worthwhile

If you’re debating whether to wear a bra to yoga at all, the truth is that it is probably to your advantage to wear a bra. Even if you have a relatively small cup size, not wearing a supportive bra can lead to a number of issues over time.

First, not wearing a supportive undergarment can be just downright painful. According to a study from February 2020, athletes who didn’t wear a bra when exercising were more likely to experience breast pain. Additionally, the study showed that women who had medium to large busts were over five times more likely to experience breast pain induced by exercise.

If you’re worried about having sagging boobs, you’re better off donning a supportive bra. Our breasts are essentially masses of tissue that are supported by a thin assortment of connective tissue called Cooper’s ligaments. When these ligaments weaken over time, our breasts begin to sag and lose their shape. If you work out without a bra, these ligaments can become strained, and your breasts may begin to sag prematurely. 

Since not wearing a bra can damage your Cooper’s ligaments and make your breasts sag, it can also result in actual tissue damage and stretch marks, depending on how often you choose to go without the support. Even though yoga isn’t necessarily a high impact activity, you are often doing flexes and bends that shift your breasts with gravity, and this movement of the breasts can be enough to lead to damage.

Finally, wearing a bra to yoga is just generally more respectful of other yoga attendees if you are in a class setting. If you’re girls aren’t tucked in place, you might give someone an unintentional peak when you’re getting into a pose, and that may make others uncomfortable. It’s better to be able to relax and not have to constantly worry about an unintentional nip slip in the middle of a class.

If You Don’t Want to Wear a Bra, Opt for Supportive Tanks

If you’ve decided there’s no way you’re going to wear a bra to yoga, whether it’s simply by choice or because you didn’t do laundry and your class is in ten minutes, try to at least opt for something that still gives you a modicum of support. 

Some tank tops or workout tops come with a built-in shelf bra. Depending on the style of the shelf bra, some may be more suitable for the type of yoga you are doing when compared to others. Many yoga enthusiasts prefer to wear snug, form-fitting tops because this keeps the fabric from falling loosely or billowing awkwardly during certain poses. Often, these types of tops have built-in sports bras or shelf-bras to eliminate bulkiness.

Keep in mind that if you are doing high-intensity yoga classes, such as power vinyasa, you may need some extra support, and you should look for tops that can provide the level of support your bust needs. In addition, remember that if you have larger sized breasts, it can be even more critical to find a properly fitting top with support.

Some Great Tops That Have Built-In Bras

In addition to finding tanks with built-in shelf bras, some tops have more supportive bras incorporated into the design. For example, this workout tank by icyzone comes with a removable padded sports bra included with the tank. In addition, it has sweat-wicking fabric to keep you dry and cool during your yoga session.

This ribbed tank from Alo also has built-in support in the form of a shelf-bra. It has a sleek, form-fitting profile that can be perfect for yoga since you often don’t want a billowy top to get in the way of your poses and leave you tangled up.

If you want a top that supports you but that is so comfortable, you almost forget you have it on, look no further than this top from Sweaty Betty. Yogis everywhere are raving about its soft, moisture-wicking fabric that stretches with you, so it doesn’t ride up during difficult poses. It also features a cute racerback style design that helps keep you cool even in the sweatiest yoga session.

Leave it to lululemon to provide a sleek racerback top designed specifically with yoga in mind. With its built-in support, it provides light support for up to a B/C cup and features an extra-long length, so you don’t have to worry about flashing your belly when raising your arms or doing a plank. It’s made from Everlux fabric that dries super-fast, as well, leaving you cool and dry.

The TechSweat Cami from Outdoor Voices is another popular choice among yoga enthusiasts thanks to its moisture-wicking, breathable, lightweight fabric and a cute cropped fit. It features a shelf-bra design with removable pads and adjustable straps, allowing you to achieve a slightly more customized fit than one-size-fits-all style tanks.

How to Choose a Bra That is Suitable for Yoga

Keep in mind: not all bras are created equal. The light cotton bra you might wear for work or the lacey bra you wear for date night usually isn’t suitable for yoga. These types of bra don’t typically have the amount of support and control you need when you are exercising, especially if you are on the especially well-endowed spectrum.

When it comes to selecting your yoga bra, several factors are worth considering. Read on below to find out just what you need to look for and how even small adjustments can make a huge difference.

Tips and Tricks for Finding Your Perfect Yoga Bra

Finding the perfect yoga bra can help you feel more confident, more comfortable, and even let you concentrate better on your yoga. No one wants to be distracted by their bra when they are trying to find inner peace or strike the wounded peacock pose. If you truly want to be able to appreciate your yoga, it’s a good idea to take the time to find a proper bra.

Make Sure the Bra Fits

This might sound like a no-brainer, but often it is a lot trickier than you may think. Not every bra of the same size will provide the same fit and support. In general, the aim is to pick a sports bra that will minimize breast movement, meaning that when you twist and move your breasts won’t bounce or jiggle, but is still comfortable enough that you don’t feel constricted or distracted.

Since bra sizing can vary from brand to brand, the best way to assure yourself that a bra fits properly is to try it on. Often, you may need to try on several different brands and various styles and sizes in order to find the bra that works best for you and your goals. If you are ordering online, it can be helpful to consult the specific sizing charts for different brands.

A sports bra will generally fit tighter than other types of daily wear bras, but you should not be tempted simply to select a size down from your regular bra size. It is best to try on bras in your size range and try to find one that gives you the right support. You don’t want your bra to be so tight that you can’t take the deep breaths critical to proper yoga practice.

Keep in mind that your bra size will likely change over time. Some minor fluctuations in size may occur in sync with your menstrual cycle, such as temporary breast swelling. Pregnancy and breastfeeding can also affect the size of your breasts. Since breasts are mostly fatty tissue, any fluctuations in your overall weight can change the size of your bust, as well.

Determine Your Band Size for a Better Fit

With your yoga bra, you want the band of the bra to be snug but not too tight. For the best fit, you can actually measure yourself to determine the appropriate band size.

To measure yourself for your bra’s band size, start with a flexible tape measurer (like the fabric ones used by clothing designers.) You will need to measure your rib cage. To do this, stretch the soft tape measurer around your torso just beneath your bust. Determine the measurement in inches and round down to the nearest whole inch. 

You can then use this measurement to determine the appropriate band size for your proportions. For a helpful chart listing rib cage measurements and their corresponding band sizes, check out this chart from REI. According to REI, for a correctly sized bra, you should be able to still slip only two fingers between the band and your body, not more.

The band of the bra should sit comfortably beneath your bust and not sit on any part of your breast tissue. When you raise your arms, the bra should stay level from front to back. You can examine this by looking at yourself sideways in a mirror. If the band rides up in the back or your breasts squeeze out of the bra, the band is likely too loose. If the band is digging into your back or leaving marks, it is too tight.

In general, bras that offer more support will have a wider band.

Adjustable Straps Can Give You a More Customized Fit

Some yoga bras feature adjustable straps, which can be useful for those who need a more individualized fit. Adjustable straps generally allow for more support, and wide straps will give more support than thin straps. The wider straps allow for the weight of your breasts to be distributed over a larger area, which can be more comfortable for bustier gals. Thinner straps, however, are often less noticeable.

If you can adjust your straps, you want them to be tight enough that your breasts won’t move up and down, and the straps will stay in place. If the straps constantly slide off your shoulders or your breasts are able to bounce a lot, it means the straps are too loose. In contrast, the straps shouldn’t be so tight that they leave indentations in your flesh. If you can fit two fingers comfortably between the strap and your shoulder, then they are not too tight.

Stationary straps can still be useful, even if you aren’t able to achieve a customized fit. Non-adjustable straps tend to be featured in pullover-style bras and are aimed for more compressive fits. Compression-fit bras tend to be a good choice for those with small to medium-sized breasts and keep breasts pressed tight against the body.

Look for Moisture-wicking Bras

Anyone who has done Bikram yoga or other forms of hot yoga could attest to the fact that you can sweat a lot from yoga. And we mean a lot. By the end of these sessions, you are usually drenched in sweat. Even if you aren’t participating in these extreme conditions, it’s helpful to have a yoga bra that helps manage moisture and keep you feeling cool, not sticky.

Moisture-wicking bras help soak up your sweat and keep you from feeling completely soaked. The bra then dries quickly, so you can stay comfortable without getting soggy. If you tend to sweat a lot and your bra can’t handle the moisture, you may end up with chafing and irritation. Plus, no one wants their shirt to be soaked with boob sweat during a yoga routine because it can just be downright distracting and uncomfortable.

In general, bras that are made of nylon, spandex, and polyester tend to do a better job of controlling moisture than cotton bras. Cotton tends to simply soak up the sweat and become heavy and can take ages to dry. Bras that incorporate mesh or keyhole cutouts also tend to keep you cooler and are more breathable, which can help.

Some moisture-wicking bras even utilize fabrics that are designed to help control odors, which may be helpful in those extra sweaty yoga classes, especially if you’re in a crowded studio.  

Bras with Abrasion Resistance Can Help Reduce the Risk of Chafing

A lot of commonly reported sports bra complaints are due to sweating and rubbing. Selecting a moisture-wicking bra is a good start, but it’s also important to consider how much friction your bra might place on your body. Look for bras that don’t have a lot of thick seams or stitching to help minimize abrasion potential.

Underwire bras can be incredibly supportive, but for activities like yoga, they aren’t always the best fit. When you twist and rotate into various poses, the inflexible underwire can poke, rub, and stab you, all of which definitely make it hard to concentrate on your inner calm. A lot of underwire bras can be uncomfortable and stiff, which doesn’t lend itself well to the flexible stretches of yoga.

Bras that are made of more breathable fabrics tend to collect less moisture, which means less risk of chafing. Also, making sure your bra is not too tight can help you from having issues with bands or straps that rub your skin and give you abrasions. Once again, having a properly fitted bra is incredibly important.

If you continue to have issues with chafing no matter what type of bra you pick out, you may want to consider using an anti-chafing balm like this one before putting on your yoga bra.

If You Are Bustier, Look for Hybrid Encapsulation-Compression Bras

Sports bras tend to be designed in two main categories:

  • Encapsulation
  • Compression

Compression bras, mentioned earlier, are those that slip over your head (as in, there’s no hook and clasp closer on this design) and compress your chest against your body, hence the name. They don’t have any built-in cups, so there is no separation or individualized support for each breast. This design tends to work better for girls with A or B size cups, but if those who have C or D cups want to try them, look for adjustable bands and straps.

Encapsulation bras are those that have individual cups to support each breast, giving a more natural shape to the chest than compression bras but also not giving quite as much support. Your average daily bra is probably an encapsulation design. Encapsulation bras generally are meant for low impact activities because of the lack of support they provide, but there are still some designs that are marketed towards more athletic endeavors.

For those ladies with C cups or larger, however, it’s usually best to opt for a yoga bra that is a hybrid between an encapsulation bra and a compression bra design. This design gives the best of both worlds: each breast receives individual support, but they are also compressed against the body to eliminate bouncing and movement. They can be suitable from low impact to high impact activities, depending on the fit.

Look for a Bra That Can Flex with You

A lot of yoga is focused on flexibility. Even if you aren’t the most flexible person, most poses rely on stretching and twisting that requires a good deal of movement. It’s important to select a bra that can move and flex with you. This is best achieved by opting for bras made of stretchier fabrics, such as this one by Coastal Rose.

Bras that don’t feature any wires will be more versatile and flexible, but if you are especially well-endowed, then a bra with underwire might be the only option that gives you enough support to exercise without discomfort.

Bras with wider bands and straps also are usually more resistant to slipping and riding up while you move, so if you struggle with having to pull and adjust your bra constantly and it’s getting annoying, look for styles with these wider assets.

Most Yoga Only Requires a Low to Medium Impact Bra

Unless you’re planning to do a ton of additional cardio along with your yoga, the chances are that you don’t need a high impact bra for your average yoga class. If you’re a D cup or larger, though, even a light yoga class may require a high support bra to ensure your breasts stay put and you don’t risk injuring yourself.

According to REI, most yoga falls into the category of low-impact activities. This means that you can get away with bras that have less supportive features. These bras are usually lighter weight and feature narrower straps and bands. They give you enough support that your breasts are held in place against your ribcage, but aren’t as thick and heavy as bras designed for higher-impact activities like running.

Many of the tops with built-in bras or shelf-bras that were discussed earlier feature low to medium support levels. Remember, if you’re well-endowed or planning on doing a more high-intensity workout. However, you should opt for bras that provide a high level of support and may not be able to wear a top with a built-in bra alone.

Final Thoughts

While there are no strict rules about whether you should wear a bra during yoga, most yogis agree that you should wear some type of supportive bra, especially if you are practicing yoga in a studio with other people

Yoga is generally considered a low-impact activity, so you only require a bra with low to medium support, but if you have a larger bust or plan to engage in more intense exercise, you should look for high-support bras. If you don’t want to wear a bra, you can opt for a top with a built-in bra in order to still get the same necessary support to keep you safe and comfortable.

Sita

Mother of three and Yogi of 20+ years and 200 Hour Certified Yoga Teacher. I am also a Certified Thai massage therapist and I have taught Gymnastics for more than 10 years. In the last couple of years, I've been a big promotor of intermittent fasting.

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