Yoga is arguably more popular than ever before. Around the world, millions of people use yoga to escape the stresses of daily life, while the NHS website describes it as a “safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance”. And with the world smaller than ever before due to coronavirus, yoga can be an easy – and relaxing – way of keeping fit in your living room.
The best thing about yoga is its simplicity. All you really need is a mat, a YouTube video and something comfortable to wear. But when buying kit for yoga, it can be surprisingly complicated. There are long tops, short tops, cropped tops, tight tops and loose tops – and that’s before you’ve even considered the type of fabric.
The first thing to consider when setting out to buy a yoga top is what kind of yogi you are. It’s far more important to find a top that suits your practice than it is to stick with one brand.
If you prefer a dynamic session, you’ll want a top with good ventilation. Those who like a gentler class should be looking for a loose, long top that gives them room to move. Depending on how rigorous your practice is, you might also want to look for tops with sweat-wicking and odour-resistant properties.
We tested all of the below tops during dynamic ashtanga and vinyasa sessions in the comfort of our living room. Our checklist included whether the tops allowed us to move freely, how breathable they were and, most importantly, whether they were comfortable.
We’ve whittled the options down to our favourite pieces – so whether you prefer a rigorous session after work or love nothing better than a gentle YouTube class on a lazy Sunday morning, we can guarantee you'll find a top that suits you.
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Lululemon love tank pleated
Think yoga brands and one of the first companies you'll name is probably Lululemon. Founded in Vancouver in 1998, the brand sells yoga-inspired, high quality clothing. It has increased in popularity hugely over the years, moving from Canada to the wardrobes of keen yogis across the globe. And it's easy to see why.
This tank is affordable, stylish and, most importantly, clearly designed with yoga in mind. Made from cotton, it is soft to the touch, but cleverly includes a little Lycra fibre to help it maintain its shape (even after washing).
Its loose fit means it layers easily, so you can keep warm during winter classes, or you can add a sports bra underneath if you want some extra support.
At hip length, it covered us well during practice and offers the additional flexibility of being able to be tucked into your bottoms should you want to ensure it stays in place.
This everyday essential is available in eight sizes, from a UK size 4 to a size 18, and four different colours (we can recommend the plum). It was a close competition – but this top just pipped the others to the post.
Bam double layer reflect bamboo top
Launched in 2006, Bam specialises in bamboo clothing. This double layer top is made from sustainable materials, so it's a good choice for any eco-friendly yogis out there, while the benefits of bamboo fabric include a luxurious feel, moisture-wicking qualities and UV protection (perfect for anyone looking to drag their mat outside as we head into summer).
As well as offering yogis an eco-conscious choice, this top is super soft and comfortable. The lower layer provides coverage to the hip helping you to remain confident and relaxed throughout your session, while the top layer is flexible and enables a full range of movement despite the sleeves.
The sizing was accurate (it’s available from a UK size 8 to a size 16), and it comes in two colours, teal and prune. Overall, it's an easy-wear tee that isn’t just great for yoga, but also for meditation and generally mooching on the sofa.
Sundried grivola 2.0 women's loose top
Sundried may not be as well known as some of the other big brands in our roundup, but we love its ethos. The company believes in quality, eco-friendly, affordable sports apparel. This top in particular is part of its pioneering "eco charge" range and is made from recycled coffee grounds – so any yogi looking to do that extra bit for the planet should go no further.
Its flattering loose fit makes it perfect for yoga, enabling a full range of movement and covering from the neck to the hip. It offers similar sweat-wicking qualities as other products on the market and is super easy to care for, claiming that it “dries 200 times faster than cotton” (we can't guarantee this, but we can say that it doesn't lose its shape and dries fast). It's also versatile.
We found ourselves lounging around in it on more than one occasion, so if you're looking for a yoga top that will take you from the mat to the sofa, then this is surely the one. Plus, at £30 it's a real bargain.
Runderwear women's low-impact crop top
We love to alternate between a yoga session and a jog round the nearest park. If you’re anything like us, then you’ll love this light and bright crop top from Runderwear, which is known for its chafe-free products.
The lightweight fabric is seam-free, so there’s no need to worry about any rubbing even in the most vigorous sessions, and the top includes mesh panels, which increase breathability and help wick sweat away from the skin. Made predominantly from polyamide, it’s soft to the touch, while the compression fit ensures it stays in place from downward dog to sun salutations.
The brand recommends this top for women with an A or B cup size (check out its whole range if you’re in need of some more support) and it’s available in four sizes, from a small to an extra large. You can either wear it on its own or team it with a longer top if you’re wanting a little more coverage.
It is one of the cheapest tops we tried at just £25 and is highly versatile, satisfying runners, gym goers and yogis alike. You can’t go wrong.
Icebreaker women's cool-lite motion seamless tank
The name might not exactly evoke feelings of being warm and comfortable, but Icebreaker's tank top is soft, comfortable and high performing. Made from merino wool, with nylon and polyester to help with durability, this was one of our favourite tops. Morning, noon and night we found ourselves reaching for it – and it even became a staple part of our pyjamas during a week in bed with coronavirus.
What makes this top stand out is its material as well as its design. The dropped armholes mean there is plenty of room to move around, while the fit is loose but flattering. We loved the simple, bright designs, and the fabric didn't get damp or heavy even in the sweatiest of workouts (plus, it was thick enough to keep us warm during savasana).
Like many of the other tops, the flatlock seams stop any stray threads accidentally chafing you mid-workout. At £70, is a bit pricey – but if you're looking to spend a bit more, you won't be disappointed.
Gore R3 women mistica sleeveless shirt
Gore is well known for its performance wear and the brand has been a favourite of ours for some time. Engineered for running, but great for yoga too, this top is a product that we just keep going back too. Thin and soft, this high quality tank weighs just 75g – so you hardly know you're wearing it at all.
Sweating is taken care of quickly thanks to the breathable material, which is also slightly stretchy ensuring it moves with you during those all-important flows. The low neckline helps to prevent chafing, while there is an added bonus of a small hidden front pocket, which you can shove keys or a bank card into should you need to leave the house.
We also loved the stylish design of this top, which includes reflective details for those evening jogs or trips to the yoga studio. Available in five sizes, from a XS to XL, this is one of the more expensive tops we tried – but we think it is well worth saving your pennies for. Plus, it is super versatile and doubles as a great running top.
Hummel Sue seamless top
We confess, we're not usually a big fan of form-fitting tops for exercise, but we'd like to make an exception for this seamless top by Scandinavian brand Hummel. Unlike a lot of similar products, this top enhances your silhouette, acting more like a second skin than a piece of clothing.
Made predominantly from polyamide, it stretches without losing its shape and stays in place throughout workouts, ensuring you don't need to worry about unwittingly showing off your belly in the middle of your practice.
The racerback style and low neckline make it the perfect option for showing off your latest sports bra purchase, and the top itself offers a bit of support. It’s only available in three combined sizes (XS/S through to XL/XXL), but we loved the fiery coral colour and would recommend it highly for yoga and gym workouts – especially if you're prone to overheating.
On active-t breathe
Swiss brand On designs simple, technical products, which seek to not only enhance performance but look great. At just 145g, this is one of the lightest tops we tried, making our practice feel almost effortless. We liked the soft-touch lyocell fabric (which is made from eucalyptus wood) and found it held its shape well, even after multiple washes.
There was more than enough room to move from warrior II to triangle post (and, crucially, back again), but we didn't think it was particularly flattering, clinging to all the wrong places, and we found it slightly too short to tuck into our Lycra for inversions. To help combat this, we’d recommend getting a slightly bigger size than usual.
New Balance transform performance tank
New Balance is well known by athletes and amateurs around the globe, so we were excited to try this tank, which is a cross between the tighter form-fitting tees and the looser tops. We found it offered us the flexibility we needed while still looking super stylish.
The classic racerback and New Balance branding are attractive, but it's not just style over substance. Like many of the products, the brand's bespoke technology helps to wick sweat away from the skin, keeping you cool and dry during sessions, while the flatlock seams help to prevent any rubbing.
It's super easy to care for, as it's machine washable and made from 100 per cent polyester, and affordable at just £25. Our only complaint is that the peach colour we tried is a tad see-through – so make sure you've got your best sports bra on underneath. Overall, a solid tee from a well-established brand.
The verdict: Yoga tops
There are so many great products on the market, it can be hard to know what the perfect yoga top is. But for both beginners and seasoned yogis, we think Lululemon’s love tank offers a high quality and, crucially, affordable choice.
Luckily for you, lots of the other products we tried were also fab – from Sundried’s eco-friendly tee, to Icebreaker’s cosy tank and Gore’s technical top – making it easier for you to find something that suits your style. Namaste to that.
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