In the world of exercise and well-being, yoga is often at the forefront these days. As this type of exercise involves certain movements, it is important to wear clothing that enables agility and support. Yoga pants should fit in certain ways in order to allow for a more optimal and beneficial experience.
How should yoga pants fit? Yoga pants should be snug enough to stay put and to offer support when performing different movements, and they should also be the right length (depending on preference) to allow for smooth flow into various poses. This is the general rule of thumb, but there are certain things to note when it comes to the specific style of yoga being practiced (there are a handful of styles).
Yoga is an ancient art that originated in India, and it has offered an array of health benefits to those who practice it. What makes this exercise so unique is the focus on breathing techniques, merged with the flow of different movements. The movements in yoga generally call for a certain style and fit of pants to be worn. There are a number of factors that weigh in when you ask the question: how exactly should yoga pants fit?
Here’s Exactly How Yoga Pants Should Fit
First and foremost, yoga pants should feel comfortable to you. Each person has a different body, and that should always be honored. When partaking in a yoga practice, you should feel comfortable with your range of movement, and the pants you wear should nurture and support that.
Yoga is an exercise that comes in many different forms, but at the end of the day, the way your yoga pants fit that can offer the most comfort while practicing is as follows:
- Should be snug enough to stay put when performing various movements
- Should not be tight to the point of restricting blood flow, full range of motion or the overall flow of your practice
- Should ideally be calf/ankle length if they are a flowy style
- Can be either shorter or longer if they are more tight-fitting on the leg, to prevent the fabric from getting in the way when stepping, and to enable smoother overall flow from movement to movement
Why Do Yoga Pants Matter?
Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “to join” or “to unite.” According to Dictionary.com, yoga is a Hindu philosophy that defines a set of principles. It is furthermore defined as:
“Any of the methods or principles described, especially a series of postures and breathing exercises practiced to achieve control of the body and mind, tranquility, etc.”
Yoga utilizes energy cultivation and flow in order to heal the body and mind. This is where pants come into play – this exercise requires you to move freely, in an unrestricted manner. In order to do so, the pants you wear should facilitate rather than constrict movement.
As mentioned, there are various forms of yoga, which we will get into later. Let’s first take a closer look at how yoga pants should fit you.
How Yoga Pants Should Fit at the Hips and Waist
Yoga pants should fit snugly on the hips and waist. If your pants have a drawstring, for example, you want to make sure to tie it enough so that it holds still as you are doing your practice. The main reasons for this are to bring comfort and also to make sure that they stay in place.
Imagine being in a yoga class with other participants, and as you all move into another pose, you feel your pants roll downward a bit from the waist. You might discretely try to yank them back up or pretend nothing happened and hope no one noticed anything. In any case, this can lead to embarrassment and discomfort.
To prevent such unfortunate occurrences from happening, while maintaining a comfortably snug fit on your hips and waist, consider the following when choosing yoga pants:
- Opt for high-waisted pants, as they tend to fit more snugly around the waist, resting above the hips. This prevents them from rolling downwards.
- Check out the fabric to make sure that it is comfortable, sturdy, and non-see-through.
- Elect for elastic waistbands, as they help the pants stay put without much extra trouble, and they can also stretch in and out if you happen to lose or gain some weight (meaning, you won’t have to necessarily buy new pants right away in this case).
- Opt for top seamed waistbands, as they offer wider support and keep pants in place.
- Choose a drawstring option if you do not have elastic or top-seams available. This enables size adjustments and, once again, stability.
- Need a temporary fix? Though this is not generally considered, you can also use a soft belt if the other options are not available. Though it is not very common, you can search for yoga pants with belt loops online or at specialty stores, sew them in yourself, or just use a soft belt to tie snugly around your waist, over your yoga pants.
- Follow washing and drying instructions on the label closely to enable longer use, and to keep any elastic or seams intact and sturdy. You may want to consider washing by hand, as well.
- Consider compression fabrics, to enable for a snugger fit. This is often mainly considered for pants when aiming to do more intense and rigorous sports, but you may still give it a try.
How Yoga Pants Should Fit at Thighs, Calves, and Ankles
Yoga pants come in different styles. There are some that are shorter in length (shorts that end around the thighs, or capris that end around the knees or calves), and some that are longer (that end around the ankles or feet). There are also different shapes:
- Straight leg
- Boot cut
- Flared leg
- Tight leggings style.
Which style you choose all depends on personal preference and what works best for you.
When practicing yoga, it is important to maintain a smooth transition between movements. That said, if you find yourself tripping over your pants, or if your toes get stuck in the bottom of your pants, then your flow will be restricted. You should feel comfortable in what you wear, while your body should also have the freedom to move without disturbance.
So, while there is no one set style of yoga pants to choose from, it is good to know the variations in length and cut.
What Length of Pants Should I Choose?
When it comes to choosing between longer and shorter yoga pants, there are a few things to keep in mind. Aside from comfort and liking how you look in your sporty trousers, the following points should also be considered:
- Climate of your area
- Type of yoga you are practicing (more on this later)
- How your body generally responds to heat during your yoga practice
Depending on where in the world you live, you may experience a generally colder, warmer, or medium climate. Precipitation plays into this as well, with varying humidity levels. In warmer areas, people tend to resort to cooler clothing, exposing more of their skin, and in cooler areas, people tend to do the opposite. This can play into yoga pants as well, as comfort level also has to do with temperature.
In areas that tend to be more humid, for example, clothing may stick to your body. In such climates, shorter yoga pants may be a more optimal choice. Also, the temperature and air of the space you do your yoga practice in may vary according to the style of yoga, or simply the air of the space itself, indoors or outdoors.
People’s bodies will regulate temperatures differently based on what they’re used to and based on the environment of the practice itself.
Various Yoga Styles & the Yoga Pants to Fit
Yoga is a diverse practice that consists of many styles. While the exact number is difficult to pinpoint, as there many different variations, here are several of the most popular types:
Source: The 8 Most Popular Types of Yoga
Each variation is unique in its own way. Some styles utilize faster movements, while others are practiced in an artificially heated environment to stimulate perspiration and detoxification.
Let’s take a closer look at the eight yoga styles listed above, to determine which yoga pants best fit each variation.
Hatha yoga focuses on the purification and strengthening of the body. As one of the most popular forms, hatha utilizes breathing techniques (pranayama) with physical postures (asanas) and can be taught at varying levels, including beginner. It generally leaves one feeling stretched and relaxed.
Since hatha yoga uses calmer and gentler movements, it is best to wear more comfortable and loose-fitting yoga pants, ideally made of cotton or mixed with cotton, to provide a softer feel. This style of practice does not generally lead to much sweating, so your body temperature will remain relatively consistent. That said, longer pants may be a good option to consider in this case.
This style of yoga incorporates fast-paced, fluid movements connected by the breath. Vinyasa yoga is sometimes referred to as power yoga, or “Flow Yoga,” as it creates an upbeat workout for both the mind and body. Everything is done in synchronicity with this style, as the breath, mind, and body simultaneously tune into a certain rhythm that maintains the flow.
Yoga pants that work best for this style should ideally be lightweight and breathable. Unlike hatha yoga, vinyasa incorporates quick transitions through difficult poses that can lead you to sweat quite a bit. So, whether you choose short or long pants for this one, try to stick to more tight-fitting, legging-style ones that can allow for full range of motion.
Breathable is the keyword here–with inevitable perspiration, it is good to help your body cool itself off with the right material.
Ashtanga yoga is not too different from vinyasa yoga–they are both fast-paced and intense. This type is sometimes even referred to as ashtanga vinyasa. Ashtanga yoga is generally deemed more structured than the latter, as it incorporates specific poses that are repeated numerous times.
This style is quite physically demanding and leaves participants feeling very sweaty at the end. Due to its high intensity, ashtanga yoga is not intended for beginners.
As with vinyasa, ashtanga is also a rigorous style of yoga. That said, the same suggestions apply when it comes to choosing the right pants to wear. Some like to wear shorts or capris with this style, while others like to wear long pants to generate more heat and create more sweat. It is advisable to wear leggings or tight-fitting pants, to allow for optimal agility. The keyword “breathable” applies here as well.
You may also consider making sure that your pants fit snugly on top, as this yoga style is very fast-paced and physical, potentially leading to an unwanted wardrobe malfunction in the middle of your practice (better safe than sorry!).
Iyengar yoga focuses on alignment. This style typically incorporates the use of props (wooden blocks, chairs, straps, bolsters, blankets, etc.) to enable participants to hold certain poses, ultimately leading to better form. Unlike the previous two yoga styles, Iyengar is a much slower practice, focused on healing those with injuries or chronic conditions.
Since Iyengar is a practice primarily for those with certain health conditions, it is important that those who take part dress as comfortably as possible. The motions are slow and controlled, so it is not necessary to wear tight leggings if you don’t feel like it. Softer, more loose-fitting pants will work fine.
There are also shorts created specifically for Iyengar yoga. They are comfortable and airy, and also close at the end of the cut so that you can move freely without constantly worrying about pulling your shorts down.
This type of yoga is a bit different from the others as it typically includes chanting, meditating, and sometimes also singing. Kundalini utilizes challenging breathing exercises, including one known as Breath of Fire. It merges rigorous, repetitive motions with the meditative, trance-like recitation of mantras. This is meant to empower the chakras and bring awareness to the body and mind.
Kundalini yoga brings forth different energies at a spiritual level. This is why people are often seen wearing white at such practices–to purify the mind and body. You should always feel comfortable in choosing what you would like to wear, but it is advisable to check with the teacher or facilitator of a kundalini class beforehand.
With this yoga style, flowy pants are preferred.
Again, with some more serious sessions of kundalini, wearing all white, flowy clothing may be a required part of the practice. In general, though, loose-fitting, soft pants are ideal, and they can help you get into a place of being. As opposed to traditional yoga styles that use certain designated movements, kundalini is more spiritually-focused and therefore does not require the use of traditional yoga garb.
Bikram yoga is a favorite to many, as it uses extra heat in the room of practice to elevate sweat and overall intensity. There is a set protocol in place for all such classes: the room has to be heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, the humidity level needs to be at 40%, and 26 poses have to be completed in a certain order for the duration of 90 minutes.
Pre- and post-hydration, along with electrolyte replacement, is recommended. Those with heat sensitivities are advised to avoid practicing Bikram.
Since the heat is literally cranked up in this class, you want to make sure that your body is cooling itself off optimally. Wearing yoga shorts or capris works for many, while for people who generally prefer longer pants, it is recommended that they wear breathable and lightweight material.
This is a physical, ethical, and spiritual practice that is similar in flow to vinyasa yoga. Jivamukti yoga incorporates high-energy exercise with spirituality and introduces students to weekly themes in which ancient yoga teachings are discussed. This practice is a balance of meditation and exercise.
Since this style of yoga is more meditative, similar to the kundalini practice, flowy pants and clothing are recommended. You should feel comfortable while partaking in this spiritual practice.
Yin yoga focuses on restorative and relaxing movements. In this slow-paced and meditative practice, poses are often held between 45 seconds to 2 minutes, as the emphasis is more on lengthening rather than burning calories. Flexibility is improved, and circulation in the joints is increased. Yin yoga incorporates principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine and offers a moment to relax and unwind.
Yin yoga is all about relaxation. You should feel totally comfortable in whatever you wear to this class. Loose-fitting or haram pants are advisable with this practice, but you may also want to consider choosing warmer pants as well. Comfort and warmth are key to feeling most relaxed with this form of yoga.
Choosing the Perfect Yoga Pants
At the end of the day, comfort is always the most important thing when deciding what pants to wear for your yoga practice. You should not feel restricted, no matter which style of yoga you like. Following the above guidelines can help you be prepared for what each type of practice has to offer, but don’t forget your comfort in the process!