Posted by: Yoga in Borve | June 18, 2015

Comfortable and steady? Sports bras for yoga and pilates

I’ve been noticing the rise of the ‘yoga bra’ in recent years.  I suppose this is an inevitable part of the explosion in yoga merchandise which has come with yoga’s increasing popularity – but why does ‘yoga bra’ appear to be synonymous with ‘pretty and flimsy’?  Most of them look as if they’d only be sufficiently comfortable and supportive if you were a 20 year old who wears an A cup.

Have a read of this fascinating BBC article about the history of the sports bra, which has inspired today’s post.  While I’m glad we’re out of the eras where ‘choice’ meant have a mastectomy, bind your bust with elastic, or wear two jockstraps sewn together, when there’s so much choice, it can be a bit overwhelming.

Sure, yoga and pilates are not high impact like running or playing squash.  I have a Shock Absorber Ultimate Run bra I’d wear for zumba or running, but it is (uncomfortable) overkill for yoga and pilates.  However, there are certainly some poses, sequences and styles of yoga and pilates in which inadequate support could damage your Cooper ligaments and/or lead to breast pain.

For yoga and pilates, I’d recommend a bra which is comfortable (which for me means no wires) and allows no feeling of ‘bounce’ when doing your most vigorous poses (for example, a Sun Salutation sequence).  You spend a lot of time working from a supine position, particularly in pilates, so you don’t want fastenings or strap adjusters at the back which will dig in.  I’d also recommend trying on several different sizes in many different styles – it’s worth being patient, and it’s worth paying a bit more for a quality bra that really fits and supports you well.

These are the three best I’ve found so far, but bear in mind that what works for my body shape might not be right for yours.  If you have other recommendations, please do add them in the comments box on this post, or on the Yoga in Borve facebook page.

1) My go-to yoga bra for decades has been the Dans-ez Minimal Bounce Bra.

Minimal Bounce BraMinimal Bounce Bra

The MBB is very comfortable, with a nice cotton rather than synthetic feel against the skin.  It lasts well and provides good coverage – no chance of someone else in your yoga class seeing right down your cleavage to your belly button.  Another plus for me is the normal vest style back, as I find racer back bras a hassle to get on and off.  When I was in my twenties, I thought of the Minimal Bounce Bra as an expensive but worthwhile purchase, but now £22.95 seems pretty good value compared to many sports bras.  The downside of the MBB is that it comes only in sizes S, M, L, etc.  So if you are either broad backed with a small cup size, or narrow backed with a larger cup size, finding a good fit could be an issue.  When I was younger, I wore Medium and found it supportive enough for aerobics and dance as well as yoga.  Now Medium is too small for me, so I wear Large, which is fine for yoga and pilates but wouldn’t provide enough support for higher impact sports.

2) Next up is Sweaty Betty’s Stamina Sports Bra.  Since I qualified as a yoga and pilates teacher and decided I should spend a bit more on the function and fit of clothes I’m wearing all day every day to practise and teach in, I’ve found Sweaty Betty’s products good quality and comfortable.  Their sizing, though, is rather odd – I have clothes from them which fit me perfectly in sizes XS, S and M.  Nearly all their more supportive bras are racerback and despite an assistant trying to tell me I should wear a Small due to my narrow back, when I was trying on a Medium in one style I nearly had to yell for someone to come and cut me out of it.  I managed to get it off eventually without public humiliation or obvious damage to myself or the bra.  But that put me off for a while.  However, SB bras get great customer reviews and when I was finally tempted to try another style at sale price, it fitted really well.  At full price, the Stamina bra is £33.  It comes in a range of funky colours, is nice and high at the front, and doesn’t budge at all while you are moving and stretching.  If you have a narrow back, broad shoulders and a larger cup size, it’s a bit of a struggle taking it off at the end of the day.  But I’ve decided it’s supportive, comfy and stylish enough to be worth it.

view from another angleview from another angle

 

3)  Finally, Moving Comfort’s Fiona Bra.  Personal trainer and pilates teacher Caroline Swart recently recommended US sports bra company Moving Comfort to me.  They have a wide range of styles, but so far I’ve not found a shop in Scotland which stocks anything like the full range.  I prefer being able to try on and compare in a shop to buying bras online because depending on the style/manufacturer, I can be any combination of 30, 32, or 34 and C, D, or DD.  For local readers, DW Sports at Inverness retail park stock a few Moving Comfort styles in most sizes.  I spent what felt like a year and a half (actually less than an hour) trying them all on and came away with their Fiona style, at a sale price of £20.

Fiona Sports Bra | Moving ComfortFiona Sports Bra | Moving ComfortFiona Sports Bra | Moving Comfort

What’s good about the Fiona bra?  It’s extremely comfortable, does not have a racer back, and comes in bra sizes, rather than S, M, L.  The straps have a genius front adjust system (heavy duty Velcro so no buckles) and the band has a 3 hook-and-eye choice of fastenings at the back.  Unlike many sports bras, it gives you a fairly natural and flattering shape (rather than compression to the point where those with smaller busts appear pancake-flat and those with larger busts have that lovely uniboob look).  I’ve been wearing mine as a ‘normal’ bra as well as when I’m going to pilates classes or doing my own home yoga practice.  So far it’s comfy and secure – no chafing from the fasteners or slipping straps – but I’ve not been quite confident enough to wear it whilst teaching yoga or doing a longer time ‘on the mat’, such as a yoga weekend workshop.

Overall: three great bras for yoga and pilates, keeping you comfy and your Cooper ligaments safe.  I’ve certainly found all three bras worth the price.  The Stamina Bra feels as if it gives the most support, the Fiona gives the most natural silhouette, and the MBB would still be my top choice if I was packing for a week’s intensive yoga retreat somewhere warm (I wish).

 

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Addenda:

  • Sadly, recommendations in this review are entirely my own impartial opinions.  But if any of the above companies would like to provide Yoga in Borve with sponsorship in the form of free bras…
  • For anyone wondering about the title, it’s a play on one of the most frequently quoted Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – ‘sthira sukham asanam’.  Basically: ‘the posture is steady and comfortable’ (sthira = steady, stable, motionless; sukha = comfortable, at ease, relaxed; asana = yoga pose or posture, but originally referring to a seated meditation posture).

 

 

 

 

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