There is no denying that yoga pants are a hot fashion trend in today’s world. You see people wearing them at the studio, in the gym, at the bar and on the airplane. This is because they are comfortable, fun and easy to wear. They are indeed everywhere, and to the novice shopper, all yoga pants may appear to be the same.
If you look more closely, however, you will find that the best yoga pants have just the right combination of fabric, comfort and fashion to get you from downward dog to downing a glass of wine at the local bar without pausing the action for a wardrobe change.
Whether you are the type to pop in for an occasional Hatha class or are a budding yogini with weeks of acro-yoga under your waistband, wearing the best yoga leggings for your style of practice can make the difference between om and oh my, this is miserable! Remember that yoga is intended to free both the mind and the body so that you can better connect with yourself and the world around you. Don’t let your yoga pants get in your way.
So, what makes a good pair of yoga pants really stand out? How do you know which ones are the perfect fit for you? When choosing yoga pants, it turns out that there is actually a lot to know. Don’t worry. Here we’ll keep it simple and look at what makes yoga pants right for specific practices, the basic material choices available, and the best fit and features on the market.
Know Your Practice
Understanding the demands of your particular practice can help you make the right decision about the right yoga pants for you. As an example, if your follow one of more rigorous practices, such as Ashtanga and Vinyasa, you won’t want extra fabric bogging you down, plus you’ll want smooth yoga pants that let you shift seamlessly from pose to pose.
For these physically demanding classes, posture and pose are important. Form-fitting pants support your body and allow instructors to monitor body alignment.
For classes like those above, where you may work up a sweat, as well as for hot yoga where sweating is guaranteed, pants made from a lightweight, fast-drying, moisture-wicking material are a must. This typically means a synthetic blend.
Additionally, for hot yoga classes in the Bikram style, you may want to go for more exposed skin surface (think capris) to allow sweat to evaporate and keep you cool. If you are miserable because you overheat, you’ll miss out on the many benefits of this type of practice.
If your style is more relaxed and you prefer Hatha or Restorative yoga sessions, you may find that you are more comfortable in pants with a relaxed fit, giving your body more room to breathe. (My favorite position has always been recovery pose.)
No matter your style, with most practices, you’ll want stretch fabric with gussets and reinforced seams to keep you comfortable. And depending on your sense of fashion, you may choose anything from basic black to a cascade of colors and patterns.
Know Your Pants
The leggings on the market today are made in a variety of styles and with a variety features. They have been thoughtfully designed to help you get the most out of your practice, and there are hundreds of brands on the market. Although there are many features and differences, some of the most important to consider are materials, waistband, rise, gussets and seaming.
The majority of yoga pants on the market today are made from a synthetic blend of nylon and spandex. With this fabric, you get pants that are quick-drying, moisture-wicking and have great four-way stretch for bending into the perfect pose.
It is true that there are still some pants on the market that are made from cotton, but because cotton does not dry easily, these are not recommended for high-energy or hot yoga classes. However, you may find them to be prefect for a relaxing Hatha session.
Interestingly, as a side note, scientists have found that your synthetic yoga pants may be more stinky than your cotton ones. This is because there is a particular bacterium that thrives on the unique structure of synthetic fibers. These bacteria survive by digesting the fatty acids in our sweat, and this process produces a rank odor.
Meanwhile, bacteria that live on cotton fibers are not as smelly. There are some special washes available on the market that can help you combat the stench, and if you want your investment to have a good long life, I recommend them.
Waistband / Rise
The rise and the style of waistband will play a big role in comfort and fit. Low-rise pants are popular because they don’t compress your mid-section. However, they can have problems with rolling and bunching, as well as revealing more than you desire during certain poses.
Conversely, high-waisted pants with wide bands provide support to your midsection, are less likely to roll down, and provide more coverage. Be sure to avoid complicated waist bands with excess material that may get in the way of some poses, particularly forward bends. Additionally, elastic bands that are sewn in to waist bands sometimes twist and become uncomfortable, taking your focus away from the flow.
Never heard of a gusset? No worries; here’s the deal. A gusset is a triangular or oblong piece of material often found in the crotch of yoga pants.
A gusset helps avoid the problem of having too much tension on the point where four seams come together. By evenly distributing the tension, they allow for greater flexibility without worrying about split seams and make your pants more durable over the long term.
For relaxation yoga, seaming may not be a critical consideration. After all, you are moving slowly without a lot of repetition. However, if you are in classes where the focus in on flow between positions, seams can make or break your session. For these types of yoga, look for flat seams that won’t bunch or chafe in all the wrong places.
With this information about both your practice and about common features of yoga pants in mind, let’s look at some specific yoga pants on the market today. These seven yoga leggings are a pretty fair representation of your choices.
Lucy Activewear Studio Hatha Legging
Special Features: low-rise waist; wide waistband; concealed pocket at waist; chafe-free flatlock seams
These cute pants come in a variety of solids and prints, so everyone can find a pair that matches their individual style. Buyers agree that these pants fit like a second skin, and they stay comfortable and form-fitting all day long.
These basic leggings run true to size and are opaque enough to not be see-through, which can be especially important if you plan to wear them beyond the yoga studio.
Made from a synthetic blend of fabric, these pants are moisture-wicking and have four-way stretch. They boast flat-lock seams to prevent chafing, and have a convenient pocket at the waistband for a car key or a gym pass. Lucy’s Hatha Leggings have a low-rise waist, but a wide waistband, which should help with rolling and bunching.
Related: If you’re looking to complete your ensemble, check out the Lucy Women’s Fitness Fix Tank Shirt. It, too, comes in a variety of colors and patterns to round out your look and is made of the same quality material as the Hatha leggings. Color me impressed.
YogaBerries Socal Capri Women’s Workout Leggings
Special Features: no-roll elastic waist; chafe-free flat seams
YogaBerries’ capri length leggings are 100% designed and manufactured in the United States using fair labor practices, which always makes for a sound purchasing decision. People who wear them love their soft feel and flattering fit. The pants hold their shape well after multiple washes and are available in mommy and me matching prints.
The nylon/spandex blend wicks moisture, dries fast, and stretches with your body to help you find your flow. Chafe-resistant, ventilated flat seams keep you cool and comfortable as you move from pose to pose, while the no-roll waist band keeps you comfortable and covered. The shorter length makes them perfect for hot yoga classes where evaporation of sweat is clutch.
Related: For that mommy and me look, here are the YogaBerries Capri KIDS Leggings. They carry all of the same features as the adult version, so your mini-me can rock your look in comfort and style.
adidas by Stella McCartney Yoga Stretch Jersey Leggings
Special Features: machine washable; mid-calf length
Fashion designer Stella McCartney has a line of yoga clothing that is sleek and stylish. Marketed by adidas, her stretch jersey leggings look great in basic black with fashionable piping contours that have you looking like sleek and toned.
Glossy trim at the waist helps them take you from yoga session to night on the town with ease. The elastic waist stays where you put it, and the polyester/spandex blend keeps you cool and comfortable pose after pose. Perhaps all you need is love and a good pair of yoga pants after all.
Related: If you are looking to add some color to your workout wardrobe, these adidas by Stella McCartney Women’s Essentials 3/4 Leggings fit the bill. At there-quarter length, they boast the same great material and have a hidden elastic waist band. They just might be your ticket to ride.
Terez Metal Madness Performance Legging
Special Features: low-rise; mid-weight fabric;
These leggings have a look of riveted metal that certainly adds a touch of edginess to your yoga wardrobe. The pattern helps you make a bold statement from mat to martinis.
As an added bonus, these pants are 100% manufactured in the United States, so you can feel good about your purchase and your practice.
The blended, breathable fabric with four way stretch makes the Terez Metal Madness Performance Legging more comfortable than the edgy look might suggest. The low-rise waistband stays put, and the gusseted crotch makes them flexible and durable. Additionally, the flat seams are triple-stitched for comfort and added durability.
Related: These leggings come in a variety of great prints. My favorite is the Terez Women’s Crystalized Legging. They make you look ready to roll right from the mat to the dance floor. Rock on!
Lululemon Wunder Under III Yoga Pants
Special Features: waistband pocket; reversible; wide waistband
Designed in basic black, these simple pants are perfect for any activity. In fact, these are Lululemon’s best-selling yoga pants.
Made from their proprietary Full-On Luon® synthetic fabric, the pants are both soft and supportive for all your best poses. These form-fitting pants help you keep an eye on your posture and alignment, and they move with you from dawn to dusk.
The fabric is sweat-wicking and stretches in all directions. There is a wide waistband that keeps everything in place. A hidden waistband pocket is perfect for your keys and gym pass. Great for any kind of practice, these pants are comfortable and flattering in the gym as well as on the couch.
Related: For travel to and from the studio, pair your pants with this Lululemon Women’s Black Daily Practice Jacket. It’s added length keeps you covered, while thumbholes and double cuffs on the sleeves keep you cozy. Om.
Beyond Yoga High Waist Leggings
Special Features: high waist; wide waistband; mid-weight material
With a high waist and wide, comfortable waistband, these basic black yoga pants are sure to be a wardrobe staple. The soft, moisture-wicking material keeps you dry and comfortable all day long. The mid-weight material keeps you covered up through all your poses.
These basic black yoga pants are said to be comfortable and form fitting. Taller users report that they wish the pants were a bit longer, and others report them to be more dark gray than true black. On the upside, they retain their shape after several washes and stretch with your body into all the right poses.
Related: If you have concerns about the length of these pants or having them ride up at the bottoms, check out the Beyond Yoga Women’s High Waist Stirrup Leggings. They tuck around the bottom of your foot, leaving the heel and ball of your foot bare for traction.
Elektrix Love Revolt Voltage Hot Yoga Pants
Special Features: elastic-free waistband; chafe-free flat-lock seams
These great pants by Elektrix are manufactured in the United States, partially from recycled plastic bottles. They are still quick-dry and breathable and come with great four-way stretch. The wide waistband is elastic free, offers great support, and won’t cut into your gut.
A gusset in the crotch provides durability while allowing for freedom of movement. Flat seams give you a smooth fit without chafing.
Buyers rave over the fun designs and patterns available with these pants, and they have become a staple in many wardrobes. They are breathable and flexible enough for the toughest yoga poses, yet fashionable enough for a night out on the town. The most common comment? “I can’t wait to get another pair!” If the natural environment is a big factor in your purchasing decisions, these may be the pants for you.
Related: If a relaxed look is more your style, Elektrix also makes these Harem Yoga Pants for Women. These eco-friendly bohemian inspired pants are casual, comfortable, and come in some of the same cute patterns as the yoga pants.
Make Your Pick
As you can see, you have quite a wide variety of choices when it comes to something as seemingly basic as yoga pants. From low-rise capris to high-waisted, full-length leggings, you can cover up or show off as much as you please. Depending on your particular style of yoga practice, you may choose skin-hugging synthetic fabrics or relaxed, flowy cotton.
Making an online purchase can be a bit intimidating and leave you begging for child’s pose. This is especially true when the product fits like a second skin. So, when you are making your purchasing decision, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Retailers want to help you make the right choice the first time. What do you want to know? Is there a gusset? How is the waistband constructed? How thick is the fabric? Most importantly, what are your return policies?
When it is time for your final decision, don’t forget to consider your practice, your personal style, and your comfort preferences. Think about what comfort means to you, because no matter your style, the right yoga pants will help you be comfortable throughout your session so that it can be both meaningful and rewarding. After all, your goal is become more in tune with your body, not your wardrobe.