Yoga and Pilates magazine advertisements fill the pages with photographs of lithe young women in tight-fitting clothing assuming various poses. This can be daunting to a novice, or to someone just about to begin taking classes. However, one must keep in mind that all fashion magazines feature tall, thin models who are not at all representative of most women. These magazines' advertising is meant to be attractive to the viewer. The models are professionals. Much the same is true of yoga and Pilates photo shoots.
A yoga class normally features a range of ages and sizes of participants, with both men and women present. Attire is simple and comfortable, in concert with the casual atmosphere most studios exhibit. One need not worry about fitting in or about standing out from the others. Both yoga and Pilates attract people with common goals, some of whom will always be closer to their ultimate destination than others. Acceptance of all body sizes and shapes is the norm.
While there are some commonly accepted courtesies for class participants, most hold comfort and freedom of movement foremost in mind. Some students and teachers prefer tight-fitting, stretchable clothing while others wear looser outfits that still permit full range of motion. Many wear comfortable, close-fitting T-shirts with light, loose pants or warm-ups. A short phone call to the studio or to the teacher will allay any "jitters" or uneasiness about what to wear.
Two clothing choices to avoid are loose, baggy outfits and spandex yoga pants with low waistbands. Clothing that is too loose can interfere with freedom of motion, becoming a liability to the wearer and many times too revealing as it sags. In the same vein, most quality stretch yoga pants are made with a higher waistband than normal, to safeguard against embarrassment during some of the poses. A low waistband can prove to be a liability.
Most regular practitioners do take care not to offend classmates by wearing strong scents, whether perfume or lotions. In the same manner, most avoid wearing jewelry during the class, to prevent inadvertent noise from interrupting the flow of the class or the concentration of others. Some take care to wear organic clothing, made from natural fibers such as cotton or soy, although that is more of a personal dress preference than a desired form of attire by most studios.
Many companies produce clothing and accessories that are manufactured and marketed exclusively for yoga and Pilates. For some, the look and the practice go best together. There is even a footwear line made exclusively for yoga. In practice, however, most if not all studios conduct classes barefoot on individual mats.
Other accessories include bolsters, foam blocks, sandbags, straps and other items designed to assist students in attaining poses or movements, and to help ensure against injuries caused by overreaching. Individual students need not purchase these types of items, since studios furnish everything necessary for a good practice and for improvement of the mind-body experience.