When you consider some of the givens for hot yoga -- super hot and humid studio, buckets of sweat -- it doesn't exactly make you want to wear your usual sweats to class. In fact, when it comes to hot yoga, less is definitely more. While the idea of baring it all might leave you feeling uncomfortable, less clothing can help you improve your practice. When in doubt, contact the studio for ideas on what to wear.
Put a little thought into your undergarments before class. While natural fibers are usually best, when you sweat, cotton can become wet and heavy. Look for performance fabrics that contain a small percentage of spandex for the best fit and comfort level. A moisture-wicking sports bra and performance underwear work best.
If you feel comfortable enough, nixing the shirt and practicing in just your sports bra can help you stay cooler during class and it makes for less clothes to wash. If you're not quite at that confidence level yet, choose a light, breathable tank top. A sheer tank or one made from performance fabric will help keep you comfortable while you sweat it out. Avoid baggy clothes like oversized T-shirts. Not only will they get wet and heavy, but they don't allow your instructor to see your form as you perform the 26 asanas.
Generally speaking, the clothes you wear for regular yoga aren't appropriate for hot yoga. While you might love your yoga pants for hatha yoga (and running to the grocery store) their cotton construction means your sweat will show through the pants. Instead, look for shorts or pants made for runners. They're designed to wick away sweat.
While some prefer to practice in bare legs, if you have trouble maintaining poses that require anchorage in your legs -- tree pose, for example -- you might find your foot sliding down the surface of your leg. If this happens, swap your shorts for some running leggings for a better grip.
Hot yoga is traditionally practiced barefoot. Shoes can throw off your balance and what's more, they'll cause your feet to sweat even more. If you hate the idea of practicing barefoot, grab a pair of yoga socks, which have gripping soles and are designed to give you more support.
A word to the wise: Put your hair up before class if you can. A high bun on top of your head keeps your locks off of your sweaty neck and will help to keep you cooler. If your hair is too short, a stretchy headband can slide your tresses from your face. Just keep any ponytails or buns high, since you'll be lying on your back during class and don't want a ponytail to cause discomfort.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.