What should a beginner wear to yoga?

Women typically wear yoga pants or leggings and a tank top or sports bra. Men typically wear a loose t-shirt, tank top or no shirt with men’s yoga pants.

If you have never gone to Yoga before, it can be quite intimidating trying to figure out what you are supposed to wear. Today we will discuss your options and how they change depending on the type of yoga you are doing.

As you read through the article today, there are various products that I will point out that are examples of clothes you may want to purchase. Some of these items we carry in our store here at semicrunchy. Other items are products we found on amazon.

There is a link below each product if you want to learn more about that specific product.

What are the different kinds of yoga?

There are many different kinds of yoga And the kind of yoga you are doing will affect how you should dress. Some kinds of yoga are very active, other kinds of yoga focus more on mindfulness.

Below is a table showing the most common kinds of yoga

TypeActivity LevelDescription
AERIAL YOGAHighPerformed while suspended in the air from a fabric swing/hammock
ANUSARAMediumForm of Hatha yoga that focuses more on mindfulness
VINYASALowSimilar to Ashtanga. Consists of fluid movements between poses. Usually with music.
ACRO YOGAHighAcrobatic form of yoga done with a partner. Similar to Aerial in that one person is up in the air. The other person acts as a base and holds their partner in the air
RESTORATIVE YOGALowUses blankets and blocks to prop students into passive poses without exerting any effort
IYENGARLowFocuses on alignment in your poses Uses props like chairs, blocks, and blankets
ASHTANGALowTraditional kind of yoga where you do the same poses in the same order every time.
BIKRAMHighForm of hot yoga where you work through a specific series of 26 poses. Bikram is trademarked and can only be done at specific studios
HOT YOGAHighPerformed in a hot and humid studio. Typically ~105 degrees Fahrenheit
HATHAMediumMost common kind of yoga in the west.
KundaliniLowFocuses on mindfulness and incorporates breathing and mantra recitation

11 kinds of yoga seem like a lot. But it is really just scratching the surface. We have been able to identify over 30 different kinds of yoga. And there are new styles coming out all the time.

What should men wear to yoga?

As we said in the introduction, there are yoga pants for men, and you typically pair these with a tank top, t-shirt, or no shirt. What you wear is mostly a function of what you will be comfortable in and what fits your style best.

That said, yoga pants are not the only option. Men can also wear harem pants and leggings.

Men’s harem pants sort of resemble parachute pants…think back to MC Hammer back in the ’80s and ’90s. But they have been around a lot longer than parachute pants. And they have out-lasted parachute pants.

Harem pants are also called hippie or elephant pants. They are comfortable because they are light and airy. They are usually made of cotton and are very popular in arid climates. Since they are not tight and restrictive, they are well suited for most types of yoga.

If you are concerned about getting pants made of our natural materials, these are a good option. Most yoga pants and leggings are made of synthetic materials.

Harem pants have a pretty specific look. And if they are not your style, that is no big deal. If you want to check out the polar opposite, check out men’s leggings.

These leggings are very similar to women’s yoga leggings. They are pretty much form-fitting, they go down to your ankles, and they wick sweat away from your skin.

Also like women’s yoga pants, they are made from a combination of spandex and polyester.

The pants shown in the picture to the right are nice because they come with a small pocket to hold your keys in during your trip to/from yoga class.

You have three primary options when it comes to shirts. You can wear a t-shirt, a tank top/muscle shirt, or a hippie shirt. In the pictures below you can see the difference between these 3 options.

The hippie shirt is loose and allows for a good amount of air circulation. The shirt is lightweight and because it is loose, it has a good deal of air circulation, you shouldn’t get too hot in a normal yoga class.

The t-shirt above is a shirt made for exercising. So it does a good job of wicking the sweat away from you. And it has short sleeves which are going to be preferable for a lot of people.

The muscle shirts offer the most freedom of moment because there are no sleeves to get in the way. Depending on how flexible you are, this may or may not be an issue. It is also a bit of a different style. So you should consider which look you are most comfortable in.

What should men wear to hot/Bikram yoga?

If you are going to be attending a very active class, or a Bikram/Hot yoga class, you have a few options. You can get Workout Shorts, Bike Shorts, or Cropped Yoga pants. Each of these has its benefits. But the main thing is it will help to keep you from getting too hot during these classes.

Workout shorts and bicycle shorts are made of similar materials. However, in this case, the workout shorts are made of polyester. And the cycle shorts are made of a combination of polyester and spandex. The right thing to wear is mostly a matter of what you feel the most comfortable in. And what fits your style the best.

Since hot and Bikram yoga is very similar, you will wear the same thing to either class.

Regarding shirts, the answer is still what will you feel most comfortable in. You can wear the same shirts to hot yoga as you wear to any other yoga class. See the previous section for more details. You also have the option of going without a shirt, which is a very common option for hot yoga,


In regular yoga, any underwear that allows you to move around is an ok option. However, you have to think about it more when you are considering a hot yoga class. Below are a few options for underwear that you could wear in a regular or hot yoga class

Men’s compression shorts and sports briefs are very similar. They are basically the same material. The main difference is just the length. If you prefer a more natural material, bamboo underwear is a good option.

All three of these options will wick away the moisture and let it evaporate, unlock cotton underwear. I recommend sticking with a style similar to this underwear as boxer shorts can restrict your movement and make it difficult to get into some positions.

If you opt to wear running shorts or another style of short shorts, you will want to select a style of underwear that is a little shorter (not compression shorts) so you don’t end up with your underwear being longer than your shorts.

What should women wear to yoga?

Women generally have more options for yoga clothes because yoga is more popular among women than men. But that does not mean it is any less difficult to navigate the landscape.

The options for what women can wear to yoga is very similar to what men can wear. But for the most part, you have women’s styles of clothing and men’s styles of clothes.

That said, many styles of harem pants are unisex. So they can be worn by men or women. See the harem pants below as an example.

If you click the two links above you will notice it takes you to the same product page because they are the same pants. Whether you are a man or a woman, if you don’t like the idea of having skin-tight pants like most yoga pants are, harem pants are a solution you can consider.

If you are not into harem pants, you can look into yoga pants or leggings.

What is the difference between yoga pants and yoga leggings?

Both are pants you may wear to a yoga class. Yoga leggings are generally tighter and made of a combination of spandex and lycra. Yoga pants are not as tight and are likely to be made of cotton, but not always.

Yoga leggings are sometimes referred to as yoga tights. Generally, Yoga Tights are a bit longer and thinner leggings. But they are not regular tights. And I have found that there is not a real clear definition of what would be considered yoga leggings vs yoga tights. It is up to the manufacturer to decide what they want to call them. You can think of yoga tights as a subset of yoga leggings.

In the pictures below, we can see a pair of yoga pants on the left, and a pair of yoga leggings on the right. You can see the yoga pants are looser, and make of a thicker material.

The pants on the right are skin-tight and made of a thinner material. Frequently, you will see yoga leggings referred to as yoga pants. Either one is fine to wear to yoga. It is just your personal preference that will dictate what you choose to wear.

What tops should women wear?

For your top, you will want a sports bra that breathes but does not move around. Then you can optionally wear a loose-fitting tank top over the top of it.

The specific top you select will vary depending on your personal style and the type of yoga class you are attending. Less active yoga classes and you might want to go with a tunic style yoga top.

For more active yoga classes, you may opt for just a sports bra or a loose-fitting tank top. Here are a few examples of what I am describing.

In the above pictures, you will see three options. In the first option it is just a regular yoga tank top/tunic. The second options is a sports bra, and the third option is a loose yoga tank top.

All three of these options are racerback. There are a few reasons why you want to stick with racerback. First, with the bra, the racerback better distributes the weight across your back. This will make it more comfortable as you are moving into different positions.

Second, for both the tank tops and the bras, racerback means you. are not constantly fiddling with the straps that go over your arms. With a regular tank top or bra, you have to worry about the straps falling off your shoulders and onto your arms.

With racerback, the straps are crossed in the back, so it keeps it on your shoulders better.

What should women wear to hot/Bikram yoga?

In the previous sections, we were talking about generic kinds of yoga. But Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga are unique. As we said in the previous sections, you are going to sweat profusely when doing hot yoga. And you need to dress appropriately.

The first thing to keep in mind is lighter colored clothing will become see-through as it gets wet. So you need to stick to darker colored clothing. This will help prevent any embarrassing moments.

You will want to wear shorts or cropped yoga leggings that will wick sweat away from you. Cotton breathes well, but it also absorbs a lot of moisture. So in a short amount of time, it will become heavy and uncomfortable.

Synthetic materials are better suited for hot yoga. You will want to prefer either shorts or cropped leggings since full-length leggings will hold in more heat, and make the class that much hotter for you. Below are a couple of options for cropped yoga leggings, yoga shorts, and cycling shorts.

As you might expect, yoga shorts will work better than cycling shorts. The main reason being that cycling shorts usually have padding in the back to make it more comfortable on long bike rides.

Yoga shorts and yoga leggings do not have this padding, so they will breathe better in those areas. But if you are trying to keep a more versatile wardrobe. Or if you already have cycling shorts, they are ok to wear to your hot yoga class.

The next question is, what do you wear under these pants/shorts? You have the option of going with no underwear. This is a popular option. But if you choose to wear underwear, you want to stick with something that wicks sweat away from your skin…same advice as with the pants. Avoid cotton since it will absorb sweat and become uncomfortable.

Here are a few examples of underwear you could try that should wick the sweat away and keep you feeling not as hot, and more comfortable throughout the class.

Notice we picked two synthetic materials. But we also included a bamboo option. Bamboo is natural, just like cotton. But unlike cotton, bamboo will wick the moisture away from your skin and allow it to evaporate.

This will not only keep you more comfortable, and keep you cooler. If it is important for you to have natural fiber, bamboo is a good option. If you are ok with using synthetic materials, the other two are also good options.

Regarding what tops to wear to hot yoga, it really is the same tops you wear to a regular yoga class as we discussed in the previous section. But you will want to go with the sports bra or loose tank top option. This will give you the best ventilation.


Today we discussed the many kinds of yoga and the many options you have to wear to these different kinds of yoga. Each kind of yoga has a different activity level, and its own unique considerations.

Luckily there are many options for clothing when attending yoga classes. So you should always be able to find something that you can wear that will keep you feeling comfortable.