What to Wear for Hot Yoga

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In hot yoga, including Bikram, the practice room is heated, usually to 95 to 100 F, warming the body to facilitate sweating and increase flexibility. But just because the room is hot doesn't mean that getting as close to naked as possible is the best choice.

Houston hot yoga teacher and studio owner Darla Magee shares some carefully chosen options for clothing and equipment that will keep you from getting bogged down in a slippery, soggy mess. Her top picks will allow you to practice hot yoga in comfort and style.

Best Hot Yoga Pants

While it would seem that you'd want to wear the smallest shorts possible, Magee finds that tight-fitted capris are a better choice because sweating in shorts makes your legs too slippery, making it difficult to stay in arm balances like crow. Lululemon's Wunder Under crops are Magee's favorites. While these pants are on the pricey side, Magee has good reason to think you are getting your money's worth.

"Many less expensive yoga pants get almost transparent when the student bends forward," Magee says. "Also make sure that you’re buying pants that are big enough for you. If you have to stretch spandex too much to put it on and then stretch it again with a forward bend, suddenly you’re wearing a window instead of a trouser." For the same reason, Magee strongly suggests wearing an undergarment of your choice to class.

To check yoga pants for transparency when trying them on, adopt a wide-legged forward bend in front of the mirror in the dressing room.

Best Hot Yoga Tops

A close-fitting tank top or sports bra is the best choice. Avoid oversized T-shirts that may fall down during poses like downward facing dog. It's not ideal to wear 100% cotton tops because they absorb sweat and become heavy. Magee recommends looking for wicking athletic fabrics that will help you feel drier.

Best Hot Yoga Mat and Props

Magee likes Manduka's Black Mat PRO for its durability, thickness, and grip (even when wet). If she needs a little extra traction in poses like downward facing dog or triangle pose, she uses Manduka's eQua mat towel.

For blocks, Magee has had good results with Hugger Mugger. "They seem to be dense enough that they don’t really absorb the sweat and they sanitize nicely with tea tree oil and water," she says.

Hairstyles for Hot Yoga

If you have long hair, a loose ponytail or braid is the best choice, since these allow you to do a full range of poses without having to adjust your hair. You will be sweating, so don't arrive with a hairdo you want to keep nice, advises Magee. If you sweat heavily, a bandanna or headband can help keep the perspiration from getting in your eyes.

Hot Yoga Clothing for Men

While Magee finds shirts to be optional for male students, she does have some advice on the best type of pants, at least from a teacher's perspective. Men's shorts and pants should fit close to the body and make use of those good old wicking fabrics. If men chose to wear running shorts, they should wear a compression garment underneath to ensure full coverage.

3 Sources
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  2. Abdallah SJ, Krug R, Jensen D. Does wearing clothing made of a synthetic "cooling" fabric improve indoor cycle exercise endurance in trained athletes?Physiol Rep. 2015;3(8):e12505. doi:10.14814/phy2.12505

  3. Xiong Y, Tao X. Compression Garments for Medical Therapy and SportsPolymers (Basel). 2018;10(6):663. Published 2018 Jun 14. doi:10.3390/polym10060663

By Ann Pizer, RYT
Ann Pizer is a writer and registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa/flow and prenatal yoga classes.