It might sound a tad pretentious, but one of the greatest impediments to practising yoga with ease is inappropriate attire. I’ve lost count of the number of sessions I’ve spent, riven with agitation and discomfort, because I’ve worn the wrong gear. The worst offender, in my book, is a loose tee-shirt. Try getting your downward dog right when the top has crept up towards, (or maybe even past) your bosom. Even before two caesarean sections, my mid-drift was never my best feature. Think pot-bellied, like a Vietnamese pig, but less cute. So it was always acutely embarrassing when my tee-shirt gathered round my neck and shoulders, exposing a few inches of untoned, porridge coloured tummy, (why is it we fake-tan our limbs and neglect the stomach?) To do a yoga session justice, you need some class of a fitted top.
Which leads me on to bra tops. Is there anything more irritating than a bra strap slipping off your shoulder during your connecting vinyasa? Most distracting. I thought I’d found my solution with a great vest top with a built in bra from H&M. But like a dope, I didn’t test-drive the ensemble. Forward fold and ‘Hello Boys!’ There they were, bursting forth from their insufficient hold. To my shame, I actually popped a nipple at one stage, which my discreet instructor ignored. Yoga isn’t a gym session, but it is a work out, and support is essential. Who wants to spend a class scooping your breasts back into position? Trust me, I’m no prude, but it does get to me that at 37 years of age I still can’t manage to dress myself properly.
While on the subject of undergarments, choose your pants wisely. I know some ladies love a thong, but frankly I feel like I’m being sliced in two by a metal cheese cutter, and I can only imagine that effect is going to be intensified in pigeon pose. Generally I wear a good pair of leggings, and a pair of M&S knickers. Happier posteriors all round.
The guys have been neglected a bit, but here is a matter which needs addressed……the builders’ bottom.
Dear God. It’s bad enough being confronted with these on the street, but try being nose to crack with some fellow you’ve never met, in a crammed yoga class. For flip’s sake guys, before you head out the door to an exercise class, prance about a bit. Try and touch your toes, maybe do a star jump or two. If the joggers creep down, put the feckers in the bin and put the rest of us out of our misery. It doesn’t matter how zen you may feel during your practice, a randomer’s hairy arse in the face is always going to detract from the experience.
When it comes to bottoms though, I’m a slow learner myself. I had these leggings once, and boy did I get my wear out of them. I wore them under tunics, under long baggy jumpers, and sometimes, I even wore them to yoga. They were from Top Shop, and fairly bog-standard Lycra, but they were ever so versatile. Well. Our running club once teamed up with a local practitioner and we did yoga for runners in a school assembly hall. This had its perks as we all had plenty of space, thus no putting anyone’s eye out in trikonasana. However, it lacked a little in ambiance where lighting was concerned, and was insufficiently dim for my liking. I had a great class one evening, and came home all stretched and limbered up, congratulating myself on my thriftiness. “Who needs expensive sports’ wear when my trusty leggings do the trick?” I thought smugly. Then I caught my husband eyeing my behind. Go me, and my pert little arse I thought. But no. “Please don’t tell me you wore those tonight” he asked, directing me to the mirror. The bloody things were almost see-through with over-use. Now that would have been bad enough, but I hadn’t worn any pants, such is my loathing of a VPL. And of course, of course, that was the session where we’d been doing loads of hip openers, and side lunges. ‘Let’s go a bit deeper on the left side, stretch it out, just a liiiiittle bit further…’ I still can’t look some club members in the eye.
The bottom line is, I love yoga, and I try to practise at least twice a week. It is unapologetically ‘me time’ and a chance to disconnect from the hurly burly of life. If I was going out for a meal I’d wear something that made me feel good, and the same therefore goes for my practice. For a while I dipped my toe in the yoga scene, doing a class every couple of months or so, and never really feeling the benefits. Now, I’m no expert, but I’m at ease on my mat, and I make an effort to meet with other yogis and enjoy our sessions. If I look good, I feel good, and plus I don’t have to feel scundered next time I go for a social run.