What are Yoga Pants?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Yoga pants are pants which are designed specifically for wear during yoga practice, although they are also suitable to other forms of exercise such as aerobics, dance, and martial arts. A wide range of styles are available, but all of them share the common characteristics of being flexible and easy to move in, as well as form fitting. These pants also tend to be more stylish than those designed for other types of exercise, often integrating elements such as embroidery and flattering cuts so that they can be worn outside the yoga studio as well.

Women posing in yoga pants.
Women posing in yoga pants.

Most yoga pants are made from cotton or synthetic knits that are lightweight and stretchy. The knit gives as the yogi or yogini moves, allowing a full range of flexibility while also hugging the body. A form-fitting pair of pants allows the poses being practiced to be clearly seen, ensuring that they are held correctly and that the practitioner is using good posture. Some companies make loose yoga pants from linen, silk, cotton, or synthetic weaves, but these tend not to be as popular.

Yoga pants should be lightweight and stretchy, allowing a full range of movement and flexibility.
Yoga pants should be lightweight and stretchy, allowing a full range of movement and flexibility.

Various lengths are available for yoga pants ranging from shorts to ankle length. Some styles are designed to stop partway down the thigh, or they take the form of capris or cut offs. The length that a person wears is generally a personal choice. In colder studios or for mellow sessions, long pants are very practical and comfortable. For warmer studios, intensive sessions, or Bikram yoga, shorter pants or shorts are recommended.

Yoga pants come in many styles, ranging from shorts to ankle-length capris.
Yoga pants come in many styles, ranging from shorts to ankle-length capris.

Typically, a form-fitting shirt is paired with yoga pants. Many companies make matching sets for style conscious practitioners. A few manufacturers specialize in yoga clothing, offering several lines and styles to meet varying needs. The focus on flattering style as well as comfort means that these pants are often marketed for use as casual wear.

Yoga pants and shorts that wick sweat away from the body are optimal for both male and female yoga practitioners.
Yoga pants and shorts that wick sweat away from the body are optimal for both male and female yoga practitioners.

In addition to use as athletic pants, yoga pants sometimes appear in surprising places. Many massage therapists wear them at work, for example, since they allow the therapist to stretch and move while working on a client. Medical and veterinary personnel may also wear the pants under scrubs for insulation that also allows them to move freely. New mothers may adopt looser styles since they are comfortable and stretchy, accommodating rapid changes in the body associated with pregnancy and birth. Wearing yoga pants is also part of a distinct casual style worn by some women, especially in urban areas.

In general, yoga pants are usually formfitting.
In general, yoga pants are usually formfitting.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Organic yoga pants? Seriously? It seems there's more than one fool being born at any given moment!


@dautsun - That's funny. I've found that for most athletic activities, if they recommend a specific kind of clothing, to just follow the recommendation. If you're going to go running, get a pair of running shoes. So if you're going to do yoga, it makes sense to just get a pair of yoga pants!


Doing yoga in actual yoga pants is a lot easier than trying to wear a pair of sweatpants. The first time I took a yoga class, I decided to just wear pants that I already had in case I didn't like it. My baggy sweatpants were flopping around everywhere as I was trying to do those yoga poses!

I went out and bought a pair of yoga pants before I took another class, and I think it makes a huge difference. It's a lot easier to do yoga when you aren't worried about what your pants are doing!


@indemnifyme - I don't see anything wrong with wanting to look nice for any occasion. Some people are just more concerned with their appearances than others, and I think that's fine. I do agree about the expensive designers yoga sets being too expensive. A friend of mine is obsessed with those lululemon yoga pants, but I would never buy them because of the high price!


I find long yoga pants to be pretty comfortable for every day casual wear. I don't even do yoga, and I have a few pairs I wear for running errands and lounging around the house or whatever.

However, I have to say that I find the idea of matching yoga pant/shirt sets kind of ridiculous. It seems like companies charge a premium for these designer yoga sets. It just seems a little ridiculous if you're actually going to wear them to yoga. Who needs to look good when they're exercising?


I love wearing yoga capri pants when I go to my aerobics class. I really don't like wearing shorts any more but love to wear yoga pants. The capri length is perfect for me. I have seen yoga pants on all ages of people, from elderly women to young girls. I think they are something that is going to stay around for a long time.


@Mykol -- I agree with you when it comes to how much nicer a pair of yoga pants look than a pair of baggy sweats or shorts. After I had my daughter I couldn't fit into my regular clothes but didn't want to go around looking like a slob.

Wearing yoga pants was the perfect solution. They were comfortable enough to wear when I got home from the hospital and yet I still felt like I was dressed OK.

I think the clothes you wear can make a big difference in how you feel. If I wear an old pair of sweat pants I feel fat and lazy. If I put on a pair of form fitting yoga pants I feel completely different. I am motivated to stay fit yet feel like I am presentable at the same time.


I don't practice yoga, but I love my yoga pants! They are so comfortable and yet don't look baggy like a pair of sweat pants. One of the first things I do when I get home from work is change my clothes and put on my comfortable yoga pants.

I can wear these around home or if I am going shopping or running errands. I used to think a pair of blue jeans were the most comfortable pants to wear, but once I started wearing yoga pants I don't wear jeans nearly as often.


@anon8004 -- I have found yoga pants with different waist options. I don't like them if they sit too low on my waist so buy those that sit higher up. I have a short waist though, so this is easier for me to find yoga pants that fit me this way. I would do a search online and you should be able to find something that will suit you just fine. There are a ton of varieties and styles to choose from.


@abiane - My pants are organic cotton and a blend of other organic materials. It's really good to have something that is fitting, but not too tight when doing Yoga because you want that flexibility and to be able to move and pose easily without worrying about what you're wearing the whole time. I love the fold over pants, but sometimes you have to adjust them more than usual.

I wear my pants for general purposes and sometimes even sleep in them they are that comfortable. :)


@ellaesans - Are your pants cotton yoga pants or are they some other organic material? Do the foldover yoga pants have to constantly be adjusted through your poses? Are there any things you would suggest and do you use those pants for more than just Yoga? Sorry so many questions, but can you tell I'm about to get into Yoga?


@anon8004 - They come in different styles. You can often find ones that have a fold over waist as well. I actually have organic yoga pants that can from a maternity store which I purchased when I was pregnant and still use them today (they were from an expensive store!).


You don't mention the waist; high, low or do they come in a variety? I've only ever found ones that sit very low on my long waisted frame.

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