Usually when I’m practicing yoga or teaching, I prefer looser tops. If I’m not having a good body image day, they don’t feel constricting and ultimately make me feel more comfortable. Truthfully, I can feel self conscious in any outfit that’s tight all around, on or off the mat. But baggier shirts are also very practical when it’s a boiling hot day here in Atlanta.
That said, I’ve noticed a shift lately. It started back during my last round of teacher training, about a month ago. It was Vinyasa week so the practices were even harder than usual and very faster paced. Two of our practices during the week are public classes and they can get quite crowded. I was feeling intimidated because vinyasa is not something I practice often, so I placed my mat in the back corner of the room. But that meant I was also away from the slight breeze that came in from the open windows. And we were stacked mat to mat.
About halfway through the class, I was undeniably hot, sweating like crazy, but I was holding my own. So I made an executive decision to take my shirt off and wear only my sports bra. In this particular studio (maybe in all of LA, I don’t know), tons of people practice without a shirt, both men and women. However, this is something I had never done before. Up until then I had always felt too self conscious. But it was hot as hell so I did it. I worried about making sure my high waisted pants covered my stomach for about 5 minutes and then I stopped thinking about it. I was in my practice, in the zone.
After class was over, I was incredibly proud of myself for not only surviving, but for doing something I had never done before and not overthinking it. I had felt free, unrestricted, and surprisingly good.
Before this point, I had been experimenting with posting my yoga photos on Instagram without a shirt. I wasn’t totally comfortable with it, but I wanted to be so I kept pushing myself and was starting to feel okay about it. After this experience in training, I was ready to continue with a new sense of confidence. I had also recently ordered a yoga crop top that I liked the idea of but was scared to wear out in public. It was time to say f**k it and wear it anyways. So I did. When teaching, I usually wear it underneath one of my baggy shirts to stay modest in my role of teacher. But once class is over, the extra shirt comes off. I’m kind of obsessed with it and probably wear it a bit too frequently. (I might have just ordered a couple other colors).
Then last week I knew I was going to a public class and forgot to bring another shirt. So I practiced in my crop top. I was worried a bit here and there, but not out of being self conscious. I was at one of the studios where I teach at so it was more out of a sense of staying professional. But just like in training, there was a point where I naturally stopped thinking about it and just practiced.
I can honestly say this may be the first time in my life where I feel completely comfortable and confident in my body. I still have my moments of picking on myself, but I also have a lot of moments where I’m proud of myself. My body surprises me every day with what it’s capable of. I haven’t really been doing anything different, maybe a bit more yoga, but I feel changed. It’s amazing what can happen when you feel comfortable in what you’re wearing, and the skin you’re in.
Will I be practicing in only a sports bra all the time now? No, probably not. But I now know that I can if I want to, aka when I’m dying of heat.
I don’t want to pressure you into anything, but I would recommend trying to wear only a sports bra or crop top next time you work out, even if it’s just at home alone. Or try taking a photo of yourself in a pose that you love. You might be surprised at the beauty you see.