Yoga is a big business. Americans spend 2.95 billion dollars on yoga classes, apparel, props and videos each year, according to Yoga Journal magazine. And those 16.5 million Americans who practice yoga, have to wear something, right?
Yoga fashion is just about as big as yoga itself. The yoga craze in this country has spawned entire lines of yoga clothing, signature lines of yoga wear by well-known yoga teachers and companies whose sole purpose is to design and sell just yoga clothes. From Nike to J.Crew to Prana, yoga-wear is everywhere.
For instance, Vancouver, British Columbia-based Lululemon Athletica, has seen sales of its yoga apparel rise to $100 million from its inception back in 1998. Customers can’t get enough of their fitted pants and tops to wear to the yoga studio, to Starbucks or out to lunch.
Even though most of the yoga devotees are women, more and more men are rolling out their mats to experience this ancient tradition, which heralded from India some 5,000 years ago. Fashion designers have taken notice of this gender bias. By and large, most yoga clothing is geared towards the female yogini but as more and more men start to take this activity up in increasing numbers, the designers are up-ping their selection of male yoga clothes. And this is a welcomed change for many male yoga students who have found their usual gym shorts and cotton t-shirts not suitable for doing yoga postures. Yoga apparel companies like Lululemon and Prana are creating male yoga wear such as movable and breathable shorts and tops.
Whether you’re a man or woman practicing yoga, here are a few tips for selecting the best yoga clothing for your style and body:
- Comfort Over Fashion: Yes, those tiny red yoga shorts might look great on the hanger or even on you in the dressing room but if you’re not 100% comfortable in your clothing, your yoga practice will suffer. I recommend this trick while you’re trying things on in the dressing room: Do a sun salutation. If all of your body parts stay in place and your limbs can fully stretch, then go ahead and make the purchase. But if you notice that the pants ride a bit too low when you bend over, put them back on the shelf and keep looking. Believe me, there will always be another pair of yoga shorts to try on.
- Style Over Fashion: When you’re choosing a new yoga outfit, think hard about the kind of yoga you practice. If you sweat a lot, get something that has breathe-ability to it. If the style requests that you frequently look at your alignment and muscle definition in each posture then purchase yoga shorts or tank tops, items that allow you to observe your limbs sans clothes. If you practice a highly acrobatic yoga, then you might want to stay clear of long-legged flare pants that touch the ground. Comfort plus functionality equals more focus on your yoga practice.
- Dollars Under Fashion: If you haven’t discovered yet, yoga clothing is expensive. So before you plunk down $80 on a pair of roll-down yoga pants, shop around discount stores for similar and less expensive versions. With the popularity of yoga, less expensive retailers like Old Navy and Target have very affordable and great-fitting yoga clothes.
The important idea to remember is that yoga is much more than looking cute in the yoga studio. Don’t get me wrong, looking and feeling great is an important factor in anything we do but once you get through your first set of Sun Salutations, you and everyone in your class will be too focused on their practice to pay attention to what everyone is wearing.