What to Know About Choosing Yoga Pants

Reviewed by Mahammad Juber, MD on August 10, 2022

Yoga is known to provide many mental and physical health benefits to practitioners, regardless of age or fitness level. Including yoga in your fitness routine can result in a tremendous boost in your quality of life.

Yoga poses can involve prolonged and intense stretching, which requires considerable flexibility and a full range of motion. If you’ve decided to take up yoga at home or even join a class, one of the first things you’ll need to support you on your yoga journey is appropriate clothing. 

The yoga clothing industry is on the rise. If you feel confused, overwhelmed by advertising, or spoiled for choice regarding the ideal pants for yoga, here’s some basic information to get you started.

What Are Yoga Pants?

Yoga pants are pantyhose-like pants made from a stretchy fabric that are suitable for wear during yoga or aerobic exercises. These pants generally cover the waist-to-ankle area. 

At the top, they have a flat, elastic waistband with or without drawstrings to comfortably hold the pants in place during vigorous exercise. They are well-fitting on the hips and thighs to allow for smooth movement during yoga. 

These pants were first developed in the 1980s for doing yoga but have become mainstream and multipurpose in their usage today.

Yoga pants are usually available in opaque colors. They're made from soft and smooth fabrics like nylon, polyester, cotton blends, spandex (Lycra), wool, or other light, stretchy materials.

What Are the Health Benefits of Wearing Yoga Pants?

Yoga pants are made from moisture-wicking materials, which move your sweat to the outer surface of the fabric so it doesn’t saturate the fabric. This type of material can help to maintain your body temperature during exercise by preventing overheating and increasing airflow.

For example, synthetic polyester has been found to have better moisture-wicking ability than 100% cotton.

These materials also dry very quickly, so you don’t experience that sticky or moist feeling during yoga. 

Yoga pant fabrics also show antistatic properties by dissipating the electric charge produced by friction during yoga or exercise. They may also have antimicrobial attributes, which help prevent odors and maintain personal hygiene.

Yoga pants are lightweight and comfortable for ease of exercise. These pants are made from stretchy fabrics that don't restrict your movements or the blood flow to your limbs during exercise. 

They’re also durable and cost-effective, as they don't damage easily and can last a long time.

How Do Yoga Pants Differ From Leggings?

If you can't tell the difference between yoga pants and leggings, here are some easy ways to tell them apart.

1. Material. Yoga pants are made from thick, moisture-wicking materials in opaque colors. Leggings can be made from thinner, more delicate fabrics with multicolor, decorative, or fashionable designs.

2. Fit. Both yoga pants and leggings are intended for comfort. But yoga pants have a snug elastic waistband with a form-fitting structure. They're designed to support the body during stretching and allow for flexible movements. Leggings are usually made from knit fabrics. They're designed for comfort and might not be able to endure vigorous body movements.

3. Functionality. Yoga pants are specifically intended for use during yoga, exercise, or other sports. Leggings are meant for everyday, casual use or as fashion or designer wear. 

4. Durability. Because of their thicker, stretchy fabric, yoga pants tend to have great durability than leggings, which are mainly designed to look good rather than for sturdiness. 

5. Price. Yoga pants are usually made from thicker, specialized fabrics with high-stretching and moisture-wicking attributes. So, they might be more expensive than basic cotton leggings. But yoga pants are still a worthwhile bargain, as the better fabric means they’re likely to last longer.

What Are the Other Types of Yoga Pants?

Yoga pants can be categorized based on the type of material, style, length, and cut. Some of the most popular types of yoga pants include high-waist yoga pants, yoga shorts, yoga capri pants, tight yoga pants, loose-fit yoga pants, wide-waistband yoga pants, and specialty fabric yoga pants. 

They also can be categorized according to their functionality, like maternity yoga pants

Most yoga pant variants are available with or without pockets on the side or in the back to store important items.

How to Choose Yoga Pants

Yoga requires total attention of the mind and body, as it often involves focusing on your breath while performing stretches. Any distractions like uncomfortable clothing that hinder your body movements can detract from the quality of your yoga practice. 

So, good-quality and appropriate yoga wear is a crucial aspect of your routine. Here are some tips on how to select the best yoga pants for you:

  • Choose pants that fit well so that you don’t feel uncomfortable or overly self-conscious about your body.
  • Opt for yoga pants with extra fabric inserts in the crotch area for a better, more comfortable fit.
  • Select the length of the pants based on the type of yoga practice. For example, yoga capri pants or yoga shorts are appropriate for practicing hot yoga.
  • Avoid pants that are too loose or flap around too much.
  • For intense practices, opt for lighter and breathable clothing that can protect you from overheating.
  • While the material of your pants should be based on your personal preferences, here are some basic pointers. Cotton pants are softer, but their color may fade over time. Synthetic fabrics have better moisture-wicking ability but may not be as soft as cotton. 
  • Opt for pants with pockets if you’ll traveling for a yoga class and would like to keep important belongings on your person.
  • Avoid pants with thick seams, waistbands, or drawstrings, as this can be uncomfortable when bending over or lying down.
  • Choose pants that make you feel beautiful and stylish, which can put you in a positive mindset and help make your practice enjoyable.

Bottom Line

Yoga pants are made from breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics to streamline your experience of yoga or other exercises. Choosing the right yoga pants can help you get a positive experience out of your practice. Feel free to experiment with different yoga pant styles and fabrics until you find the right fit for you.

Show Sources


Applied Ergonomics: “The effects of a moisture-wicking fabric shirt on the physiological and perceptual responses during acute exercise in the heat.”

The Art of Living: “Yoga Wear | Secrets for choosing the right yoga clothes.”

Complementary Therapies in Medicine: “National survey of yoga practitioners: Mental and physical health benefits.”

International Journal of IT, Engineering and Applied Sciences Research: “Active Sportswear Fabrics.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “9 Benefits of Yoga.”

Science History Institute: “The Yoga Pant Problem.”

Women Fitness: “How To Choose The Right Clothes For Yoga Practice.”

Yoga Bear: “Yoga Pants Vs Leggings – What Are The Differences?”

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