Do Men Need Yoga Pants?
For many guys (our Faveable editors are guilty of this too), the term "workout clothes" refers to whatever old, faded T-shirt and gym shorts we can throw on to hit the gym. It's not about being stylish; it's about finding something practical and comfortable while we work up a sweat.
But when it comes to Yoga, "normal" workout clothes may not cut it. Why is that?
Yoga is a very flowing, dynamic workout, one that requires freedom of movement to stretch, twist, and bend. If you're wearing clothes that are too long or loose, you run the risk of getting tangled up. If you wear clothes that are too tight, you lose freedom of movement.
And that's not all: you also have to remember that you're going to sweat A LOT while doing Yoga. Yoga clothing is designed to wick moisture away from the body, and many Yoga pants and shirts are made of quick-drying material that will prevent sweat salt crystals from forming on your body. When you're doing Yoga and trying to focus on your flow, the last thing you want is to be irritated by your clothes rubbing against dry, rough skin.
For guys, Yoga pants are a must-have, even if you use a normal workout shirt. The pants are designed with enough leg room to allow you free movement, but they're long enough to provide modesty and coverage while doing inversion poses. The material (see below) will keep your legs and groin cool while you work out, and they'll encourage a natural flow.
Here's what to look for in Yoga pants:
- A loose, comfortable fit
- Enough elasticity to move freely
- Durable seams (you don't want a tear in your crotch while in Downward Dog!)
- Ankle length
- Elastic waist, preferably with a drawstring
Below, we're going to look at everything that goes into finding the right pair of Yoga pants for your practice.
The Right Length and Style of Yoga Pants
Finding the "right" length and style of Yoga pants means taking into account your personal style and preferences. However, here's what you need to know about Yoga pants:
Length –For most guys, the obvious choice is full-length pants. Full-length pants are ideal for Yoga practice in cold weather, as they provide coverage and warmth for your legs. They can also be used for other activities, as sleepwear, or loungewear. The pant-length makes them more versatile.
However, if you're an athletic man, capris are a decent option to consider. Capris end between the knee and mid-calf, usually with an inseam length between 19 and 20 inches. For hot weather practice, capris provide better ventilation for your legs, keeping you cool. For those who practice Bikram Yoga (hot Yoga), capris can be a great choice—they offer good coverage while still allowing you to wear as little as possible.
Be warned: not all men can pull off the capris look. If you're heavier or more muscular, capris may make you look squat or top-heavy. Capris break the natural line of your leg, thus making you appear shorter. For average and short guys, full-length pants are a no-no.
Who should wear capris? Tall, lean men with runners' bodies will find that form-fitting capris accentuate their calves and help them to avoid the lanky look.
Style – Yoga pants for women come in all shapes and sizes, but there are three basic styles for men to consider:
- Straight-leg. Straight-leg Yoga pants are cut in a straight line, so they will feel slightly tighter around the leg than flared-leg pants. They are wider in the thigh but narrow at the knee, following the natural line of your leg. They offer good maneuverability but are more form-fitting. They're not as tight as leggings, but aren't as free-flowing as flared-leg pants. With straight-leg Yoga pants, there will be less material flapping around as you move. They're the simplest, most widely available style of Yoga pants.
- Flared-leg. Flared-leg Yoga pants mimic the flared cut used for old Bell Bottom jeans, but without as much bell to them. They have the same ample thigh, but instead of following the natural line of your leg, they flare outward. This gives you more room to move around and better maneuverability. They are free-flowing and offer excellent ventilation. If you like to feel your pants moving around as you transition between poses, flared-leg Yoga pants are a great choice.
- Legging. Yes, men can wear leggings! It's not every man who can pull off the legging look, and it's not every man who should. Leggings are form-fitting, perhaps a bit too snug for men carrying a bit of extra weight around the gut, glutes, and thighs. On very thin men, the form-fitting pants will make them look TOO skinny. However, men with well-developed leg muscles or a leaner, more athletic form can get away with wearing leggings. Leggings offer a comfortable, no-interference style of pants that won't move around or flap as you practice Yoga.
Choosing the Right Yoga Pants Fabric
Like with any sport or athletic activity, you need to find the right fabric for the workout. Yoga pants come in four basic fabric choices:
Cotton – Cotton is the most common choice for Yoga pants, as it's a natural fiber that offers excellent breathability and tends to be fairly lightweight. 100% cotton pants will feel deliciously soft on your skin, making them perfect for gentler forms of Yoga.
However, if you're going to do more active types of Yoga, you need to remember that cotton tends to absorb and retain moisture. Your cotton pants will get soggy when wet, and you could end up with serious chafing problems if you sweat heavily. Cotton also tends to retain body heat, making them too hot for Bikram Yoga. Plus, cotton is prone to fading with regular use and heavy sweating, and will show sweat marks.
Verdict: Try cotton for the more relaxing, slow-paced types of Yoga.
Synthetic – Synthetic fabrics are usually either nylon (marked as "Supplex"), polyester, or spandex (marked as "Lycra"). Synthetic fabrics tend to be better for heavy sweaters, as the fabric can be both moisture-wicking (pulling sweat away from the skin) and quick-drying. Synthetic fabrics also retain their shape better, so they're less likely to sag or stretch like cotton pants.
However, the downside of synthetic fabrics is that they're not as soft as cotton, and they tend to "pill" (balls of cloth fibers forming, an unsightly textile defect). Some fabrics (like polyester) are very slippery, reducing traction on the ground or your Yoga mat. If you sweat a lot, the synthetic fabrics are more prone to bad odors.
Verdict: Use synthetic fabrics for the most active types of Yoga.
Blends – A synthetic and cotton fiber blend mixes the best of both worlds: you get the softness of cotton with the breathability, moisture-wicking, and elasticity of synthetic fabrics. Blends tend to be more comfortable than synthetic fabrics and more durable and sweat-friendly than cotton. Finding a blend of 80% cotton mixed with 20% spandex, nylon, or polyester produces the ideal Yoga pants.
However, these blends are not without their flaws. They may not be as elastic as full synthetic fabrics, and the high cotton content means they're more prone to damage.
Verdict: Use blends for the most active, high-sweat types of Yoga.
Eco-Fiber – With the "eco-friendly" focus of so many different Yoga practices comes with eco-friendly fibers: bamboo, hemp, and silk, to name a few. These eco-fibers tend to be soft, lightweight, and comfortable. Add to that the fact that you're saving the planet by purchasing sustainable products, and you can see why so many people like them.
However, eco-fibers tend to lack durability, and they're not good for heavy-sweat, high-activity forms of Yoga. Eco-fibers also cost more than cotton, synthetic, or blends.
Verdict: Use eco-fibers for low-activity, gentler forms of Yoga.
Yoga Pants Features to Consider
When shopping for Yoga pants, here are a few important features to consider:
Color – Your color choice isn't just a style thing. Some colors tend to show sweat more visibly than others, and bright colors are more prone to fading, especially with cotton fabrics. For your Yoga pants, consider black, dark brown, dark blue, or dark green as the color choice.
Gussets – A gusset is a diamond-shaped or triangular patch of cloth sewn into the crotch of your pants. This helps to reduce pressure on the pressure point in the crotch where four seams run together, thereby preventing tears and rips in the crotch of the pants. Not all Yoga pants have gussets, but for active guys, they're a must-have feature in your Yoga pants.
Pockets – Pockets are a handy feature to have if you want to carry things to and from Yoga class, but you're not likely to use them during class. Some Yoga pants have key pockets (with enough space for a folded bill or key), but most pockets are full-sized. For the average guy's Yoga pants, pockets don't really do more than add a convenient carrying space—you can take this feature or leave it.
Drawstring – A drawstring can help to keep your Yoga pants firmly in place, but it can also press uncomfortably into your midsection while performing prone positions. For cotton pants, they're highly recommended, but you may want to consider a drawstring-free design for synthetic pants.
Crotch Length – There are few things worse than a pair of Yoga pants that ride high in the crotch! You want to find a pair of Yoga pants that allow ample room for the truly important "dangly bits". A good pair of athletic underwear can keep everything firmly in place without risking wedgies.
Moisture-Wicking/Quick-Drying – If you're a heavy sweater, these two features are worth considering. Moisture-wicking fabric pulls sweat away from your skin, preventing salt crystals from forming on the surface of your skin. Quick-drying fabric allows the sweat to dry more quickly, reducing the salt crystals that form on the fabric from rubbing against your skin.
Right Type of Pants for Your Yoga Practice
When it comes down to it, it's all about choosing the right type of pants according to the type of Yoga you practice:
- Basic Yoga – Basic Yoga involves simple transitions between poses, but nothing too fast-paced. Most pant styles will work for this type of practice.
- Active Yoga – Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga involve a good amount of dynamic movement, so you need pants that are lightweight and versatile. Leggings are a good option for this Yoga practice, or flared-cut pants that offer good freedom of movement.
- Yin or Hatha Yoga – These gentler types of Yoga don't require much in the way of movement. Opt for comfortable straight-leg pants made with soft materials and plenty of elasticity. Comfort is your priority!
- Bikram Yoga – Hot yoga is going to cause you to sweat buckets, so buy pants with that in mind. If you can pull of capris, the shorter length is ideal to minimize coverage. However, loose, flowing pants are a good option to consider to reduce overheating.
Alternatives to Yoga Pants
Don't want to buy Yoga pants or can't find a pair that fits you/looks good? Here are a few alternatives to Yoga pants you can consider:
- Pajama pants. As long as they're made of cotton or synthetic fabrics (not flannel), pajama pants can be a very comfortable option.
- Scrubs. Made of cotton or a cotton-polyester blend, scrubs are very lightweight and comfortable for Yoga practice.
- Long-underwear. Your athletic long johns (used for snow sports) will double as loose, comfortable leggings for more active types of Yoga. Just remember that they're intended as underwear, so may not be the most durable choice.
- Sweatpants. Most sweatpants are made of 100% cotton, which can get soggy when wet. However, for gentler forms of Yoga, sweatpants and loungewear are a great option.