Yoga is an exciting and rewarding activity that nearly anyone of any age can participate in and gain new spiritual and physical insights. Some like the fitness aspect and others enjoy the spirituality, but no matter the specific interest, any practitioner of yoga, can benefit greatly from a teacher. Potential yoga teachers face a great array of questions, and one of these is: what do I wear?
Yoga teachers want to dress in a way that befits their status as a professional, but also in a clean-cut and modest way. If you can dress with those attributes in mind, certain colors and styles that accentuate creativity and beauty may be desirable to add to your wardrobe.
This article will go into more depth about what to wear, what not to do and wear, and other aspects of yoga and being a teacher.
Yoga is all about improving yourself in both body and soul, so it pays to keep the tenets of yoga in mind when choosing what to wear as a teacher. There are ten basic tenets of yoga, and some may not be totally applicable to wardrobe, but several are.
Tenets of yoga to keep in mind:
- Ego sacrifice
If you take a moment to imagine how these can apply to clothing, you’ll have a decent idea of where to start with your wardrobe. You want to project confidence, positivity, restraint, and professionalism. Don’t wear clothing that’s purely to satisfy your ego or show off your body because that’s not what yoga is about.
Clothing that’s comfortable, breathable, and simple is best. You want to add some touches of personality too, but not so much that it overpowers your status as a professional teacher of yoga. As in all things, balance is key.
Before you can get into what to wear, you need to know what not to wear. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s very helpful as a to-be teacher to consider potential negative backlash and distractions. The last thing you want is a student to mess up on account of staring.
We know it can be tempting to wear extremely form-fitting clothing when practicing yoga, but perhaps leave the clothing that closely outlines your form at home. You don’t want your students to be distracted, for good or bad, by your clothes being too tight.
This kind of goes along with the tight clothing one, but it must be revisited for the sake of redundancy – you can’t let your body hang out of your clothing. Strive to wear comfortable and breathable clothing that doesn’t let any potential distractions hang out. It’s not only unprofessional, but it’s also disruptive.
New yoga students may often receive advice no better than, ‘Wear loose and comfy clothing,’ which can equate to floppy clothes. Any tops or pants that move too much when you move or hold poses can distract and harm exercises more than they help. Also, make sure your top isn’t so loose that it will flop off if you do downward dog. Low cut shirts and tops go with this, too, in that they let things flop around if you move around too much.
This can be a tricky one because some yoga teachers hail from cultures where not shaving body hair is normal, but I’m assuming that’s not the case for you. It can be exhausting keeping up with body hygiene, such as leg shaving, but excessive body hair can be distracting at best and disruptive and coupled with body odor at worst.
This goes along with the body hair but includes other crucial aspects of body health that may be neglected. You don’t want distractions such as unsightly foot calluses, bad body odor, or other bad results of hygiene neglect. Keeping yourself feeling and looking good is a good professional habit to keep.
It can be super easy to just get some basic yoga pants and tops and call it a day, but think twice before doing that. Basic and boring clothing can come off to students that you don’t care about your job or them as students, and you don’t want that. Even a personalized accessory or two can make all the difference in showing a more positive and uplifting attitude.
These can seem like no-brainers, but it never hurts to refresh yourself on what to keep in mind about your wardrobe. After all, you’d put at least a bit of thought into some of these things at any other job, right?
Now that you have a solid understanding of some things to keep in mind and what not to do, we’ll be discussing what you should wear and do as a yoga teacher. These aren’t hard and fast rules by any means but will give you a basic understanding of what a yoga teacher must consider when choosing clothing.
Yoga tests flexibility, strength, and endurance, so you want to wear clothing that’s as similar to workout clothing as possible. Clothing that doesn’t impede on your body’s natural movement is best, and some nagging pieces of fabric can interfere with exercises at the worst of times. Clothing that is slightly loose but won’t flop is ideal because of the variety of movements you’ll be performing.
As with any clothing choices, you want to keep your local climate in mind, especially if any part of your classes are outdoors. Cold climates may call for slightly more insulated clothing and sleeves, while hot weather necessitates thinner and more breathable fabric. Sports bras and stretchy tank tops can be a lifesaver for hot climates, while scarves and leg warmers may be wonderful for those frosty mornings.
No wire, ladies! The last thing you want is to get stabbed by an awkward motion, so sports bras are usually best. Your body will thank you if you add in a sports bra that boasts abrasion and moisture resistance too, especially for Bikram and Hot yoga. Chafing is a serious consideration when doing yoga, so carefully scrutinize how any given bra rubs when you make basic and more advanced movements.
This goes for all clothes, but especially pants. You don’t want to be too restrictive, but loose isn’t good either. Regular air circulation for your bottom half is important to prevent excessive sweating and potential sweat blots. Moisture-wicking material should be high on your list for pants, as that will aid both the sweating aspect and aid unnecessary chafing.
Fabrics that bunch up and retain moisture will do nothing for your body, so stay away from those. You will sweat, so keep your skin in mind, and it will thank you in turn.
Cotton is a popular material for its ability to absorb sweat, but it’s also comfortable and affordable. There’s a reason that white cotton clothing is worn by so many yoga practitioners around the world, after all. Consider cotton clothing with your needs as far as compression, snugness, and other needs.
Yoga pants are for yoga – duh, right? Well, it turns out that you have to scrutinize even these when you’re going to be practicing yoga. Not all yoga pants are created equally, as it turns out.
Loose shorts should definitely be avoided by everyone, but especially men. They have a nasty tendency to bunch up at times and even sag down. Short shorts are even worse offenders of the bunching problem, so they’re out. Anything that flaps or moves when you move generally isn’t good, as it can cause chafing or irritation. Comfort is key, and chafing isn’t.
Compression and bike shorts can be a great choice, as they’re typically made with a range of motion in mind, but you’ll want to try basic motions to finalize your choice. As always, these must be suited to your unique environment and breathability needs.
Pants are tricky because they need to be snug to avoid chafing and sagging but still be suitably snug. You don’t want unnecessary drawstrings that will become uncomfortable in some positions, and you want to check the bottom of the pant legs. If they’re too long for your legs and dip down to your ankles and feet, you’ll have issues.
Ideally, any pants you wear for yoga won’t interfere with calf movement, and especially not your feet. The grip your feet have on your yoga mat is an extremely crucial consideration when choosing pants, so nothing that blocks that. If your calves get cold at times, you can try wearing calf warming sleeves especially made for yoga and exercise – these will keep your legs warm and still allow full range of motion and feet contact with the mat.
As a yoga teacher, one of your top priorities should be the comfort of your students. This goes along with wardrobe to such a degree that the two are inextricably linked. The colors and styles you choose will show your students who you are not only as a teacher but also as a practitioner and person.
Consider colors such as blue and yellow, which are scientifically proven to boost feelings of positivity and happiness while reducing anxiety and feelings of discomfort. Avoid clothing with long or complicated phrases, as it can be distracting to students when trying to pay attention to your words and demonstrations.
Jewelry and large adornments shouldn’t be worn when teaching yoga as they can prove both distracting and even dangerous – you don’t want a dangly earring, bead, or bell to get caught in someone’s hair or skin. This goes double for any audible adornments such as bells that can prove extremely distracting.
You want to radiate positive energy and confidence to your students so that they know you know what you’re doing and so will trust you to teach them and feel good about it. Many things go into this, such as color and style, so you’ll have to meld your own personal style with the basic attributes we’ve discussed. There is always room to show your personal style while being comfy and professional about it.
A tip to think about is how much skin you want to show. This has sensitive implications for many people, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Some skin showing can even be helpful for students to show what motion in areas of your body looks like, so it will better aid them in their journey. On the other hand, you don’t want so much skin showing that you’re a bikini model or object of attraction. Balancing comfort, practicality, and professionalism is crucial here.
It’s super tempting to wear all your best yoga clothing when teaching, but consider a more practical approach in which you blend expensive clothes with more affordable and practical clothing. Not everyone has the funds to afford the top brands, after all. This doesn’t mean you have to tone down your wardrobe but challenges you to keep the perceptions of your students in mind.
Positivity in yoga, as in life, proves enormously helpful to both teachers and students. You don’t want students to feel inadequate or anxious for any reason, which is, sadly, a common barrier to entry of yoga. The more comfortable students feel with your attitude and approach to teaching, the better.
As a teacher, you’re a role model for how students will view yoga and themselves with regards to where their journey with yoga will take them. They may view you as the pinnacle of what to aim for in their pursuit of yoga, even if you know that you’re far from perfect. Keep this in mind at all times when teaching and otherwise interacting with students, like the way you talk, walk, and pose will influence their view of you.
A major part of this is always being positive about any slow or struggling students, making every effort to help them. You never know – someone who felt anxious about their yoga may have been thinking about quitting, and your positive reinforcement as a teacher and role model may be the thing to help them persevere and improve.
Never underestimate the power and influence you have on your students as a teacher and role model, and always endeavor to use this for the good of both your students and yourself. After all, you may be a teacher, but you can always learn from your students as well.
It can be easy to fall into the old trap of feeling like you know everything and have nothing more to learn, but this is an especially dangerous trap in yoga. Since yoga is such a fluid practice, there is always more to learn for students and teachers alike.
Always keep yourself open to any opportunities for improvement, whether that comes from a student, mentor, colleague, or yourself. This will make you a better teacher and practitioner of yoga, and is good advice for life, to boot.
It can be a cliche to say this, but you really do just have to be yourself when teaching yoga. It’s tough when you have pressure as a teacher, but you have to find ways to balance the expectations of others with who you are as a person and practitioner. Being forced into a box creatively or spiritually can stifle your spirit and will come out in the way you act, perform, and teach.
Being a yoga teacher is an amazingly rewarding experience – to aid in the pursuit of others’ yoga journey is an honor that can’t be overstated. Hopefully, with some of the tips in this article, you’ve learned how to better dress for success as a person and teacher.
Dressing our body is one of the best ways to express who we are and how we can help others through the healing experience of yoga, so keep this article in mind the next time you’re thinking about your wardrobe.
- Yoga Journal: Dress For Success
- Modern Yoga Lifestyle: Yoga Teacher Training: What Are They Wearing?
- Spoiled Yogi: What Not To Wear: Yoga Teachers
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