I am a generally sweaty person. (BRB gonna go update my Bumble profile with that sexy line.) I don’t know why, exactly, this is. I just know that all it takes is one inchworm and I’m leaving sweaty handprints everywhere. So, naturally, hot yoga is a particularly damp affair (Wet? Moist? There aren’t really any non-gross synonyms for sweaty.) Even if you’re not prone to sweat theatrics like I am, being confined in a heated room and doing chaturangas is bound to make you perspire. A lot.
If you’re not wearing the right attire, there are two general outcomes. One, you feel like you’re on a slip ‘n’ slide of your own sweat, which is a terrible but accurate visual. Two, you get so overheated that you feel the urge to, and I’m paraphrasing the poet Nelly here, take off all your clothes because it’s so hot in here.
So what is the right attire for hot yoga? Here are the insider recs from instructors with serious sweat cred.
If you only take one thing away from this article, let it be that you need moisture-wicking clothing for hot yoga. Bonus points if it’s also antimicrobial. “If you’re dripping in sweat, you want your workout clothes to absorb the moisture which will reduce the chance of sweat stains, dry quickly and decrease odor,” Ava Johanna, an international yoga and meditation instructor and breathwork facilitator, says. She’s a fan of Alo Yoga’s High-Waist Seamless Radiance Legging ($94).
Another tip: Avoid cotton at all costs. “It will absorb your sweat and become heavy and will make you hotter,” Sami Houston, an instructor at Los Angeles’ Hot 8 Yoga, says. “I recommend full length or 7/8 length fitted leggings. No traditional yoga pants.” She personally wears Alo’s Airlift legging line. “They’re designed for hot yoga practice and are made of a special blend of super light, sweat-wicking material to keep you cool. They come in high-waist styles which are extra flattering (bonus points),” she says.
“High-waisted leggings are a must for me,” Melissa Loeffelholz, CorePower Yoga Colorado area leader, says. “Some of my favorites are the Lululemon Align Pant ($98) and anything from Beyond Yoga that is their space-dye fabric.”
Alex Tran, a hatha and hot yoga instructor in Seattle and founder of fitness fashion blog Schimiggy Reviews, recommends Onzie and K-Deer for hot yoga practice because they wick away sweat and are super lightweight. “When you sweat, the fabric on these brands become like fly trap paper and keep your limbs glued together in inversions” she explains. “After class, the material dries quickly and I’m out the door in no time.”
This is tricky. Shorts are an obvious answer if you want to keep from being overheated…but have you ever tried crow pose in 100-plus degrees while wearing shorts? That is the definition of slippery. “If you choose to wear shorts, it is nice to have a small sweat towel handy to wipe away sweat,” Loeffelholz says. She recommends Alo (clearly, this is the go-to hot yoga brand) shorts, like the Airbrush Short ($56). You want them to be fitted—loose clothing is not your friend in hot yoga. Tran also recommends Onzie for their tight-fitting shorts. Try the High-Rise Biker Short ($54), for an on-trend look that’ll also help keep you from slipping everywhere during inversions.
“For those who may not be comfortable with no top, I’d recommend a light, fitted tank top,” Houston says. Look for sheer and mesh materials in a fitted design, as these will give you breathability and will stay in place during your practice. Also, loose tops prevent your instructor from being able to get a good look at your form, she explains.
“I love tops that have built-in bras—it makes laundry much easier,” Loeffelholz says. (A woman after my own heart.) “I prefer to practice in tops that are semi-tight-fitting, as loose tops can fall into your face during a forward fold or an inversion. Some of my favorites are the Lululemon Power Y Tank ($52) and the Beyond Yoga Slim Racerback Cropped Tank ($60).”
Even if you practice in only a sports bra, it’s good to keep a tank handy for when you head back out into the real world. “I always throw on a tank to wear to/from the studio—I love my Woman Tank ($32) from Year of Ours,” say Lauren Roxborough, head of marketing for NYC-based hot yoga studio chain Y7.
4. Sports bras
Johanna likes Alo Yoga’s Delight Bralette ($58) because it’s antimicrobial and dries quickly after class is over. Tran looks to Athleta for sweat-wicking sports bras—she likes the Athleta Transcendence Bra ($49). She’s also a fan of Lorna Jane’s LJ Excel fabric—”it’s more like swimsuit material that wicks really fast.”
Another brand she recommends is Niyama Sol. “Their sport bras are made with this fabric that is super stretchy and contours to the body really well,” she says. If you’re small chested, she recommends the Pine Criss Cross Sports Bra ($58).
Roxborough adds that Y7’s in-house brand Essential Seamless Bra ($68) has just the right amount of compression to make her feel comfortable rocking just a sports bra. “Plus the fabric is fast-drying,” she adds.
5. Essential extras
“My all-time favorite mat for practicing in a heated studio is the Alo Warrior Mat ($100). It is extra thick and provides the perfect amount of support. It absorbs sweat and has a built-in grip so you don’t have to worry about slipping in downward facing dog, which was a huge selling point for me,” Johanna says. It’s also very important to have a towel for hot yoga so you don’t slip all over the place. “I personally use the Manduka Yogitoes Towels ($58)—they absorb insane amounts of sweat and the underside has silicon nubs that grip to your mat and keep the towel in place,” Houston says. As for water bottles—because all that sweating means you need to be hydrating—both Johanna and Loeffelholz recommend the Hydroflask ($40). “It helps me keep track of my water intake throughout the day and the straw-lid makes it easy to keep sipping and stay hydrated,” she says.
You’ll also want to pull your hair back into a style that will keep it out of your face and off of your neck while you sweat it out on the mat. No one likes the feeling of matted, sweaty hair on their back. Roxborough relies on Teleties ($8) to keep her hair up. Loeffelholz also recommends wearing a headband to keep sweat out of your face and eyes.
“There’s nothing worse than having to stop what you’re doing to wipe your face with a towel in between each pose,” Loeffelholz says. Aside from accidentally taking a hot yoga class taught by your ex’s ex…a very specific instance that, umm, clearly did not happen to me. But hey, just one more thing to work out in your next cathartically sweaty class.
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