Have you ever spent time in a pair of comfy yoga pants? If not, you could be missing out.
Yoga pants aren't just for yoga class anymore. Women wear them to the store, the gym, even out to brunch. Of course, the original intent of the yoga pant — to accommodate the body during yoga and other physical activities — remains key, and that's what we'll focus on in this review.
If you're in the market for a new pair of yoga pants, you have some choices to make. Consider these factors before making a purchase:
One of our goals at BestReviews is to help nourish your fitness journey by recommending only the best in exercise wear. To that end, we spent hours studying the market and consulting consumers in order to identify the best yoga pant available. See our matrix above for our top recommendations.
The market offers yoga pants in three basic lengths: short, capri, and long. For the most part, your chosen length is a personal preference, but the type of yoga you practice can influence this choice.
For example, people who practice hot yoga or "bikram yoga" — an intense workout in a warm room — will probably prefer yoga shorts. Some are brave enough to wear a variation called “booty shorts,” which are brief but well-suited to a vigorous yoga class.
Capri yoga pants, which extend to somewhere between the knee and mid-calf, are suitable for any type of warm-weather exercise. And, while most women probably wouldn't visit the grocery store in booty shorts, yoga capris are suitable for these kinds of excursions.
Long yoga pants fall to the ankles or slightly below. Some taper at the ends; others flare into a slight boot cut. These pants are suitable for exercise any time of year, and most people find them appropriate for wear outside the yoga studio, too — although wearing them to work is a bit too casual for most employers.
Yoga pants are available in different fabrics, each with its own pros and cons.
Cotton breathes well, but it’s prone to shrinkage in the dryer. Although soft against the skin and resistant to pilling, cotton is notorious for retaining moisture and sweat. As such, those who work out heavily should probably seek another fabric.
Synthetic fabrics such as Lycra, polyester, and nylon hold their shape well and wick moisture away from the skin. These fabrics are not as soft as cotton, and some people are allergic to certain synthetics. Odor, chafing, and pilling are common problems, too. But because the material keeps the body dry, resists fading, and doesn't shrink like cotton, it's a popular choice among exercisers.
Pants made of a synthetic/cotton blend may work for people who perform less-vigorous types of yoga. However, our consumer research indicates that this type of fabric wears out quickly and tends to exhibit the worst traits of both cotton and synthetic materials.
Do you like to work up a sweat during yoga, or do you prefer a gentle workout that focuses as much on alignment and breathing as it does fitness?
As mentioned above, synthetic fabrics designed to wick away sweat can be a godsend for those who practice vigorous forms of yoga. If you’re taking a sequence-focused Bikram class, for example, you’ll probably want a moisture-wicking material that keeps you as dry as possible as the sweat streams out of you. Ashtanga and Vinyasa practices also tend to elicit lots of perspiration, as does a hot yoga class.
Your skin might get a little dewy during a Hatha or Iyengar class, but these gentle practices focus more on alignment than they do vigor. Restorative yoga classes are also quite gentle, as the goal is to relax and rejuvenate the body. Yoga pants made of cotton or a synthetic/cotton blend would suit these purposes quite nicely.
Of course, there’s no harm in wearing synthetic yoga pants to a gentle yoga class, and if you participate in both vigorous and gentle yoga classes, you may still want to invest in synthetic yoga pants.
When shopping for yoga pants, you must choose the length and material that suit you best. But that's not all. Different pants come with different features that you may or may not find attractive.
A key pocket is exactly as it sounds: a small pouch or slit in the waistband that could hold a key or perhaps a credit card. Some yoga practitioners swear by them; others dislike them intensely.
If you panic at the thought having no pockets — no place to quietly stash your car key, ID, or whatever you like to keep on hand — you might appreciate this feature.
But a key pocket is somewhat bulky, and if you put something inside of it, it grows even bulkier. Since the point of yoga pants is to liberate the body, some people reject the key pocket as a sacrilege to their yoga practice.
If you're unsure, we recommend that you try on yoga pants both with and without a key pocket to see which you like better.
Do you prefer a high, medium, or low waistline? As with jeans and other types of slacks, you have a choice with yoga pants.
People with toned abs may want to show off their musculature in pants with a low-cut waist. Remember, however, that you’ll be bending and twisting a lot in your yoga pants. And if you're not careful, you could end up with the yogic equivalent of “plumber's crack.”Similarly, people with less-than-toned abs may have issues with “muffin top” in a pair of low-cut yoga pants.
In short, if you don't want to spend your yoga session worrying about indecent exposure, opt for pants with a medium or high waist.
High-waisted yoga pants do a better job of containing your midsection, but some people find them restrictive — especially when bending forward. For most consumers, we recommend mid-rise yoga pants that sit comfortably between the navel and waist.
All pants have seams, but most yoga practitioners agree that having a diamond-shaped gusset in the crotch is a necessity for yoga pants.
The gusset allows for more freedom of movement than a standard seam, and it reduces the chance of “friction” in sensitive areas. Gussets are also less likely to rip or tear under pressure than straight, old-fashioned seams.
Sticker shock may set in when you first start shopping for yoga pants. But after evaluating scores of the market’s best, we came to realize that this is a situation in which you get what you pay for. Our recommendations range in price from about $10 a pair to about $50 a pair.
That said, we recommend that beginners who are trying yoga for the first time spend a little less on their first pair of yoga pants. That way, if it turns out you're not interested in continuing the practice, you haven't spent a small fortune on exercise wear that will see only minimal use.
Careful laundering is key to preserving the life of your yoga pants.