The Yoga Teacher Diaries: My Top 10 Yoga Essentials

The first year I started practicing yoga, I used to wear a baggy Nike tank top, an ill-fitting, tight Nike sports bra, and old spandex cycling shorts. I would slip and slide all over a mat that was probably meant for Pilates, and my comfy activewear for after class consisted of cheap sweatshirts from Brandy Melville and old sweatpants probably from a 7th grade friend’s bat mitzvah. Not technically uncomfortable clothing, but maybe I could’ve done a little better?

Okay, yes you don’t need high end yoga clothing or daily activewear to have a practice or become stronger, but somehow having the right gear can be motivating and a lot easier to move in.

Let’s settle the score before going any further in this article: gym clothes and yoga clothes are d-i-f-f-e-r-e-n-t, different! I truly believe that I feel my stretchiest, strongest, and most comfortable when I’m wearing the best possible leggings and bra in class. I also know that my practice is thrown off if I don’t have my trusty Liforme mat and Gaiam towel to keep me grounded. Gear that isn’t hand-me-down cycling shorts and baggy tank tops can be expensive, but if you’re willing to treat yourself, building a comfortable and effective yoga wardrobe can prove to be worth it. 

Thus, I’m sharing with you my Top 10 Yoga Essentials, from leggings, to bras, tops, sweats, and equipment. 

DYI's Signature Tight Legging I know what you’re thinking, that Alo is supposed to be the go-to for all things yoga and leggings. Though I really like my Alo Moto Leggings and don’t think the other leggings I do have from them are bad per se, they don’t hold up the best compared to DYI. When I wear Alo leggings to class — and just as a disclaimer, I only wear high-rise leggings — they tend to fall down and bunch around my waist the more I move in them. Alo leggings also tend to have really thick fabric that can be uncomfortable to be in all day. DYI leggings, on the other hand, stay perfectly in place while also being ridiculously light and breathable. Sometimes wearing leggings during the day can be suffocating, but the DYI Signature Tights make me feel like I’m not wearing anything. Plus, they’re pretty affordable compared to other brands and come in a lot of colors and textures. I have them in light pink, black, and forest green! Seriously, these leggings are incomparable.

Liforme Mat This mat will change the entirety of your practice. I genuinely sweat like I’m a human shower head. But Liforme mats are designed with a grippy, sweat-absorbing surface that keeps you in place. I’ve found that it actually helps you get deeper into poses, as you don’t have to waste energy on keeping yourself from slipping. Yes, the price may seem absurd just for a yoga mat, but this mat lasts 3+ years and can save you from spending $5 on a towel every time you go to class. Trust me, if you are a frequent hot yogi and have issues finding a sweat-resistant mat, this is the one.

Manduka Mat Towel The Liforme Mat does work for most people in terms of eradicating the need for a towel and soaking up sweat. However, if you’re a “human shower head” like me and drip sweat within minutes of a hot vinyasa class, then this type of towel is essential. Along with the Liforme, it grips your mat and you to provide extra no-slip support and stability. These towels absorb your sweat like no other standard gym or bathroom towel, and if you don’t want to splurge on a Liforme mat, they can go over any other type of mat to provide a grippy surface. Whether you don’t want to buy a new mat or are just doubly sweaty like me, Manduka towels will be your savior. 

Alo Bras (Moonlit Bra, Delight Bra, Alosoft Base Bra) As someone who does not own a non-sports bra and does not ever — seriously, not ever — wear a bra under regular clothes, you can imagine that I hate most sports bras. However, being a modest cup size, it is uncomfortable for me to workout without a sports bra on. Further, I am a hot yoga instructor and practitioner, so I typically practice without a shirt. So, behold: the only brand of sports bras in the world that I am actually comfortable in, Alo. Though I kind of tore apart their leggings in my previous ranking, I have to give it to them — they make a mean sports bra! I’ve listed above my top 3 that I wash everyday so I can literally wear them again and again. Every single bra I’ve tried by Alo is soft, supportive, breathable, and so stylish. They also make each bra with a variety of beautiful color options, so you can buy your favorites in multiple colors! Well done, Alo. Well done.

Alo Unwind Sweatpant, Alo Fierce Sweatpant Again, though I noted that their leggings are not my favorite, Alo kills the game with loungewear. Most of my wardrobe is black, I’ll admit, but a lot of my yoga bras and favorite graphic t-shirts require black sweatpants to pair with them. The Alo Unwind Sweatpant is the softest, most amazing cotton material and almost resembles silk. They’re so light and airy, and I sometimes even teach in them instead of leggings. They’re definitely worth the price, I promise.

The Fierce Sweatpant definitely has a heavier material, and they can’t be put in the dryer. They’re also full of holes, per the current trend of tattered clothing, so some may feel that only getting 80% of a sweatpant may not be worth $108. However, I think they’re so cute and still extremely comfortable/wearable everyday. I guess I chose my battle on that one!

Girlfriend Collective Bras Now this, this is a brand I can 100% root for. Girlfriend Collective is an innovative activewear brand whose claim to fame is their genuinely diverse and representative models who actually look happy to be wearing this clothing! Their bras are beautifully made, with a sweat-absorbing, breathable, sleek fabric and structure. The colors these come in are also beautiful and modern, and the bras only cost $38. Find a better made, cheaper brand... I’ll wait. 

Girlfriend Collective Leggings Another win for the inclusive, vibrant, and amazingly cheap brand, Girlfriend Collective: they have fantastic leggings. These puppies are only $68 a pair, and again come in a variety of gorgeous, modern colors. The fabric for these leggings is similar to the bras, in that no matter how much you sweat, you never feel weighed down or suffocated by the leggings’ sweat absorption. Similar to the DYI leggings, they also are extremely stretchy and mold to your body in all the right ways. 

Alo Washed Edge Hoodie I typically would never spend $118 on a sweatshirt — hello $70 champion sweatshirts from Urban Outfitters and $35 Brandy Melville hoodies — but this hoodie is so ridiculously comfortable. The fabric is to die for: it’s a crazy soft cotton on the outside and what seems like some sort of suede-cotton hybrid on the inside? I don’t know what it is, but I want to live in it! You can’t put it in the dryer in order to preserve its softness, but it’s so worth the air-drying wait. Also, I got mine in the “Moss Wash” color, and it is the most gorgeous minty-forest green. Trust me, you want this sweatshirt.

Beyond Yoga Leggings Beyond Yoga’s leggings are a close tie with Alo for my second favorite brand for leggings. Price-wise, they’re the same as Alo but still slightly more expensive than DYI. Alo also wins points for having better design/styles than those offered by Beyond Yoga. However, Beyond Yoga redeems itself with its high-quality fabric. All of their leggings are super soft and comfy, and they almost have the same suede-cotton hybrid as the Alo hoodie. These leggings are also super durable — I’ve had mine for four years and haven’t had any wear and tear. All in all, Beyond Yoga leggings are a great legging option.

Joah Brown Soho Crop Long Sleeve Yes, $78 for a long sleeve shirt is ridiculous. But look how cute it is! I’m sorry, but I love this top so much. The color is beautiful in person and the shirt goes so well with jeans, sweats, and yoga leggings. It’s a splurge, but sometimes ya gotta go for it.