How To Choose Yoga Pants: The Buying Guide for Men and Women

This is a true story, I swear.

I nailed yoga squats such as Malasana and Extended Leg Squat pretty instantly during my first yoga lessons. But when I went to the bathroom after one of the classes, horror-struck, I found the seams of my yoga pants got ripped in the crotch area. Luckily, no one’s physiological well-being was harmed as my yoga mates didn’t seem to notice this awkward situation (or at least they pretended they didn’t).

But this is how I’ve learned that yoga pants are important.

Ill-constructed clothes can ruin your workout (and image). I’m not talking only about the public embarrassment of having your pants split. I’m talking about chafing, irritated skin, clothes that don’t breathe and tend to show sweat marks, and which you have to adjust during the workout.

The process of choosing yoga pants whether for men or women is usually hard and confusing. But fear no more! We will tell you what material works best for workout clothes, what qualities you should look for in yoga pants and how they should fit as well as give you tips to prolong the life of your favorite yoga pants.

Natural or Synthetics: What Fabric Works Best In Yoga Pants

No matter whether you’re a male or female practitioner, the process of hunting for the perfect pair of yoga pants should always start with the choice of fabric composition.

Yoga pants are usually made of bamboo, cotton, synthetics, and cotton-synthetic blends.

Bamboo

Bamboo is a natural and organic material that is processed into a light and breathable fabric. It is an excellent choice for workout gear due to its performance properties of wicking away moisture and preventing the build-up of bad odor.

Due to its temperature regulating properties, bamboo clothes will keep you cool and dry when you’re hot and warm when you’re cold.

Bamboo fabric is very soft and gentle even for the sensitive skin, thus comfortable for restorative yoga practice as well as intense workouts. Besides, it is durable, resistant to pilling and is made-to-last.

Bamboo is often blended with other fabrics such as spandex, cotton, or wool.

Cotton

Cotton yoga pants are comfy and soft. Wearing them feels great during stretching, restorative and slow types of yoga as well as when simply walking around the house.

However, cotton might not be the best choice for a physically challenging workout. The fabric is highly absorbent. So the more you sweat, the heavier and more clinging the clothes become. In addition, when you’re wearing cotton as opposed to synthetic fibers, it’ll take a long time for your body to cool down; sweating and shivering sensations will also last longer, according to this scientific study.

If you opt for tight cotton pants, make sure the fabric includes at least a bit of spandex that will help the pants hold their shape.

Synthetics

Synthetic fabrics are great for high-impact workouts. If you’re fighting with excessive perspiration, nylon and polyester blends will be your best bet. These materials are great at wicking away moisture. Instead of being absorbed by the fabric, the sweat evaporates from your skin helping you stay dry and avoid the sweat marks. The sportswear made of nylon and polyester are also permeable and help your skin breathe and regulate body temperature.

Another synthetic material spandex, also called Lycra, prevents the yoga pants from deforming. It makes the pants stretch and move with your body while retaining their shape. Spandex also makes it less likely that your pants will split during the deep squat.

Synthetic fabric will not feel as soft and pleasant as cotton or bamboo but is more durable and resistant to fading.

On the downside, synthetics create a heavenly environment for stink-causing bacteria so be prepared for a stronger smell after the hot yoga or sweat-inducing workout.

Luckily, the new generation of odor-free fabrics is right around the corner. For example, new performance wear that uses X-Static technology is becoming widely popular. The fabrics using X-Static are covered with silver that is known for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Thus, the gear remains fresh for more extended periods of time and doesn’t build up bad smell after the workout.

Cotton-Synthetic Blends

The yoga pants made of the cotton-synthetic blend combine the best and the worst of the two worlds. The pants will be softer than the pure synthetic wear, but at the same time, they will absorb more sweat. They are also less durable and more likely to pill when compared to 100% cotton or pure synthetics. Pilling is nasty, and it can make even a new pair of yoga pants look shabby and old.

A beautiful, smart, athletic girl does yoga exercises in a gym in loft style, with natural light from large windows. She is dressed in a sporty uniform, breeches and crocheted top. Stretching, flexibility and equal weight.

Qualities to Look For in Yoga Pants

‘Looks aren’t everything’ applies not only to people but to sportswear as well. Most of us are used to choosing the clothes based on the style we like or color that suits us. Sure it is important to feel confident and attractive in your pants, but just like you don’t choose your laptop or car because of how it looks, there are some qualities of yoga pants you should give priority to.

Comfort & Ease of Movement

The most essential thing is to feel good in your yoga pants. You shouldn’t stop in the middle of the asana to adjust the waistband. The pants shouldn’t budge, and the fabric shouldn’t be itchy.

Regular sweatpants are comfy around the house or in the gym, but generally, don’t fit in the yoga studio. They will usually be too loose and heavy, and maybe even too hot for some yoga styles. Yoga pants need to be lightweight, streamlined and must not stay in the way of your postures, especially during fast-paced Power or Vinyasa yoga.

Performance Properties

Depending on the type of yoga you practice, you might be looking for specific qualities in your yoga pants such as their ability to stretch, wick away sweat, and breathability.

If your routine involves calm and slow types of yoga, you might want to opt for a cotton-spandex pair of yoga pants. It will have a nice soft feel, but at the same time hold the shape and let you stretch and squat without fear of ripping your pants.

Hot yoga fans, on the contrary, should look for synthetic-based yoga pants. The fabric will wick away sweat and let your body dry fast and adjust its temperature after the workout.

Durability

No yoga pants will last you a lifetime. Sooner or later, you’ll have to say goodbye to your favorite pair and begin the quest of finding a new one.

There are some materials though that might serve you longer than other ones. Nylon, for example, is considered one of the most durable and long-lasting synthetic fabrics.

Cotton-blend yoga pants, on the contrary, are most likely to pill and lose its attractive look faster than any other material. The weaker cotton tends to break and form a pill. However, instead of falling off during washing, the fuzz will be held by the stronger synthetic fibers.

Some features such as gussets can prolong the life of tight-fitting yoga pants. A gusset is a small piece of fabric sewn into the crotch area. It helps to distribute the pressure around the crotch seams evenly and makes your pants feel snug.

Fit & Style

There is definitely much more variety in yoga pants for women than those for men. But since the popularity of yoga among male population is finally increasing, men can also enjoy a wider choice of yoga gear.

The fit and style you choose, whether these will be leggings, loose straight pants or harem pants, are up to you. Just make sure that your yoga pants are of the correct length, not too tight or not too loose with extra fabric flapping around.

Yoga pants with tight fit will feel more comfortable during the active yoga session when you have to change postures fast and need the pants that will move with you. Leggins with compression, in particular, will benefit both men and women since they support joints, improve blood circulation and help muscles to recover after the workout.

Whereas loose and relaxed-fit pants will feel more pleasant during the restorative or slow styles of yoga. Baggy pants are also more versatile. You can pop into a shop or cafe after your yoga routine without feeling too ‘naked’ in your tight yoga pants.

Design

Many yoga pants for men and women now come with such additional features as key pockets, zippers, clasps, etc. And while these might be useful when you’re wearing your yoga pants for jogging or visiting the nearby coffee shop after the practice, there’s absolutely no need for pockets or decorations in your yoga studio.

Moreover, an awkward and ill-constructed design of the internal hidden pocket may outweigh the benefits it brings. Some decorations can be bulky and tend to bunch up during the practice. Zippers and drawstrings, for example, may cause discomfort in some asanas, especially when lying.

Extra layers of fabric around your waist may help with tummy control and compression but can get in the way in postures requiring you to fold forward. So in case of yoga pants, less is always more.

Color & Pattern

The classic black yoga pants may seem boring and cheesy, but there is a reason why this color is so prevalent in sportswear. Black doesn’t show sweat. This is especially useful in hot yoga or physically challenging and fast yoga styles which leave yogis drenched at the end of the class.

If you are tired of black, yoga pants for both women and men come in a variety of colors and patterns. Though the problem is that many colorful fabrics will change hue when wet. Most probably you don’t want others to see darkened spots in your crotch and leg areas after the practice so keep this in mind in case you perspire a lot.

Some colors and fabrics, synthetics, in particular, can also have a slight sheen to it. This also applies more to tight-fitting yoga leggings rather than baggy pants. So check the customer reviews or ask the manufacturer about the item’s color details.

How Yoga Pants Should Fit

Sometimes it might be tricky to understand whether you got yourself the right size of the yoga pants. This especially applies to tight-fitting leggings. Here are some general rules that will help you figure out whether your yoga pants fit you or you need an exchange.

  • First of all, ask yourself if you’re comfortable. Good yoga pants should feel like second skin and will make you forget that you’re wearing them in the first place and focus on the practice. There should be no seams chafing and digging into your skin, no muffin tops on your waist, and no extra fabric is crumbling and getting in the way of some postures.
  • To make sure your yoga pants don’t get sheer in certain poses, especially on your backside, squat a few times.
  • The yoga pants have to be stretchy and stay up all the time. If you take breaks to adjust your slipping pants during the session, then you might need a smaller size.
  • The well-fitted yoga pants should not wrinkle or get baggy on the knees or the crotch area.
  • Make sure your yoga pants don’t leave any marks or lines on your body after the practice. If they do, it means you probably need a bigger size.

Yoga Pants Cleaning and Care

Be prepared to take care of your yoga pants a bit differently than your other clothes to prevent them from pilling, increase their longevity and to get rid of the stinky after-workout smell.

First, check the manufacturer’s instructions before tossing your pants in the washing machine. Also, here are some general cleaning rules that apply in every case.

1. Wash your work-out pants in cold water. It will prevent color bleed, shrinkage, and fabric breakdown. Do not use the drier, as it can weaken the material. Instead, air-dry the pants.

2. Wash the yoga pants inside out to reduce friction with other clothes. Skip on the jeans and other harsh materials and load your washing machine with clothes of similar fabrics.

3. Avoid adding fabric softener. It will make your pants softer, but the chemicals in the softener can decrease the wicking properties of the material and impede the breathability.

4. Choose the high-quality detergent. Synthetic fabrics, in particular, are very prone to smelling funny after a sweaty workout and the regular wash often doesn’t help.

Tossing more powder into the washing machine won’t do any good either. On the contrary, if not rinsed properly, the left-over detergent can block the odors inside of the fabric and even lead to skin irritation. Try soaps with special enzymes or the good old vinegar solution.

Male yoga with tattoo on hand doing exercise in gym with grunge interior. Fitness training indoors
Tight-fitting leggings with compression improve blood circulation and help muscles to recover.

General Tips on Buying & Wearing Yoga Pants

Choose Quality

With yoga apparel, the price generally means quality. Don’t think that the more expensive brands are just ripping you off, and you can buy the same yoga pants paying three times less. The items may look the same, but a $15 pair clearly won’t feel like the one for $80.

If yoga pants are more expensive, the fabric is most probably better and of higher quality, the seams are well-constructed and more durable, and people who sew the pants for you get decent wages.

So don’t expect high performance and comfort for the low price.

Take Good Care of Your Yoga Pants

… If you want them to last longer.

Keep to the recommended washing instructions of the manufacturer. Besides, try to wash your yoga pants after every use. They might not smell or look dirty, but since they touch your skin and sweat, they will gather bacteria which will grow in case the item is not washed. This may later cause problems if you have sensitive skin.

Alternate Between Yoga Pants

If you practice yoga almost every day, it is better to have at least two pairs of pants. This way you can wash your yoga pants every day and let them air dry without wearing the wet pair to your yoga class the next day.

Moreover, you probably don’t practice the same style of yoga every day. By investing in two pairs of yoga pants with a different fit, you can ensure your pants are appropriate for the style you’re practicing.

What are the qualities you’re looking for in yoga pants?

Share in the comments!

Jane Summers

Jane Summers

A staff writer for Unhype.com, a freelance translator, and a yoga buff.
Jane Summers

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