Of hot pants and pink bikinis in the hot room
By Trish Tillman
I’ll admit it, I enjoy various forms of hot yoga. I find the feeling of rivulets of sweat trickling down my skin to be soothing and even contemplative. Now, the thing about hot yoga is that heavy clothes quickly become oppressive and almost unbearable. I’ve worn a sweatshirt in the hot room before, but it was after my ACL surgery, when I could basically just sit and breathe and do the top half of the poses. Then I bundled up like a consumptive at the beach and sweat out my frustration at my jacked-up knee. Normally, though, when you’re doing hot yoga, you will find you’re inclined to wear as little clothing as is socially acceptable.
This brings me to my point—there is a way to wear skimpy clothing to a hot yoga class (for both guys and girls) and there is a way NOT to do it. It’s possible to attend a class wearing basically a swimsuit, but still avoid looking like a yoga bunny. (I think it’s great to be a yoga chick, by the way, but never a yoga bunny.)
Just follow these handy, gender-inclusive pointers:
Wear something that is truly, honestly your size. I know many tops and shorts say “one size fits all.” That is simply not true. During class, ill-fitting clothes will stealthily creep into a state of greater and greater revealing-ness, and you don’t want to spend half the class putting your various bits back into your outfit, do you?
The half-cheek is not acceptable in the yoga room. I can’t believe I really have to point this out. This look is great on the beach or if you really enjoy the feeling of epic wedgies, but in yoga it’s just preening.
Wear color schemes and patterns designed for a grown-ass woman. I once saw a woman coming to hot yoga in what was definitely a bathing suit. It was a ruffled, pink bikini number that looked like something a six-year old girl might wear while building sandcastles on the beach. On a six-year-old girl, this would be cute and endearing, but on a woman at least in her thirties, this just screamed of maturity issues.
For the fellas: These common offenses are categorized in order of ascending awfulness.
Be judicious in your use of spandex shorts. I get it. Board shorts or MMA shorts have lots of extra fabric, and some guys don’t like how this hinders their movement during yoga. Nonetheless, spandex shorts are only ok if they are of a decent length (not mini) and if their fabric has enough oompf to keep all the relevant equipment decently, discreetly tucked away. You may be super proud that you look like you have a live squirrel stuffed down your shorts, but I’m not happy when you’re doing forward folds right smack dab in front of me.
No underwear worn as a yoga outfit. No joke, I once saw a guy come to the studio and realize he’d forgotten his regular shorts. Unfazed, he whipped off his pants and proceeded to do the entire class in his boxers. Boxer shorts, when soaked with sweat, cling tightly to the body. They reveal… well, topography. Not to mention that running around in your undies stopped being a viable option at around age four.
No light-colored spandex shorts. Light-colored spandex shorts, much like a white t-shirt, will become nearly transparent when wet. I once had the misfortune to be positioned right behind a guy in WHITE spandex shorts during a sweaty hot yoga class. It was like looking at an anatomy textbook. I could see what religion he was. I spent the class alternating between horror and curiosity at whether he knew what he was doing, and if so, then why?
Bear in mind, I’m hardly a prude. I think the human body in all its variations is glorious and worthy of celebration, but we should probably not be revealing our full, um, gloriousness to unprepared fellow yogis. THAT is best done in entirely different settings.
About Trish Tillman
Trish Tillman is a graduate student of history, adjunct professor, yogi, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu player in the Washington, D.C. metro area. On the (jiu jitsu) mat, she goes by the very un-yogi-like nickname of “Hateful Trish.” Her dissertation research would probably be going much faster if she didn’t find everything in the world so interesting.