For some guys, there’s still a cultural stigma around yoga, but more men than ever are throwing poses to get a different kind of fitness hit. It’s an increasingly popular workout, with benefits including improved flexibility, muscle strength, and overall physical conditioning. Not to mention yoga’s close relationship with mental wellbeing.
When starting any new fitness regime, it’s the same old dilemma: splash out on custom-designed gear or just wear the trusty old joggers you’ve been rocking for years?
But for this kind of workout, it’s worth hunting down the best yoga pants you can find. Cheaping out is often a fitness false economy – high-quality sportswear with the technical specs to be flexible, durable, and breathable won’t just help you execute a workout, they’ll actually enhance your performance. (They’re extremely comfortable for four-hour Netflix binges.)
What To Look For
When it comes to good yoga pants – whether you’re just learning to bend those creaking joints into the basic positions, or you’re permanently doubled-up in the king pigeon pose – one thing’s paramount: freedom of movement.
“The only pre-requisite is just make sure you can move in them,” says Chris Magee, an international yoga teacher. “You don’t want to be one step behind because your outfit is getting in the way. If the material is stiff then it can be restrictive around the hips and groin, so if you’re doing any lunging it feels like the fabric is pulling you back.”
If you’re a newbie, it’s hard to know where to start – the spectrum of yoga pants goes from oversized elephant pants to skin-tight compression gear. Other features to consider are elastic waistbands vs drawstrings, cuffed ankles, or breathable vs warmer fabrics. It all depends on which kind of yoga you’re doing, of course.
“Different people’s styles suit different types of pants,” says Magee. “Vinyasa style practices – that’s one breath, one movement flows – is the most common style of yoga practised in the west. There are lots of variations and sequences. That’s the one where you’re going to want to the most freedom of movement.
“The Hatha practice is a little slower, gentler, more static, and the same with Ying, which is very, very gentle. It’s passive, relaxing, releasing stretches and generally held postures so you’re not going to sweat at all. But you’ll spend a lot of time chilling in each pose. So you’ll want something that you’re super comfortable in but also something to keep you warm – material that’s a little thicker or fleece lined.”
If you’re still not sure about how to make sure you’ve picked out the right pants, Magee has some tips on how to try-before-you-buy.
“If you’re trying them on in the changing room, try and touch your toes, do a few squats as low as you can,” he says. “See how generally the material feels when you move around so you know you’re getting something that will help you be as successful in your movement practice as possible.”
Practicality is important, of course, but even the most experienced yogi keeps an eye on style. Modern yoga pants have abandoned the flouncy fits and hippie-style prints for contemporary sportswear styling. In many cases, that means they’re easy to wear for low-key days off with hoodies and sweatshirts.
The Key Styles
Lululemon Intent Pants
Lululemon is driven by innovation in technical athletic leisurewear. The brand’s love of yoga is well known, with stores and showrooms rolling out the mats each week for expert-level sessions. It’s no surprise the brand is a firm favourite amongst yogi.
“The Intent pants are like a stretchy jogger but they’ve got a cuff close to the bottom,” says Magee. “With those bigger, baggier, almost boot-cut style yoga pants, you find them sliding up and down your leg. But these taper around the calf and they’re closer around the ankle so if you’re doing anything with your legs in the air, the material isn’t riding down or causing a distraction.”
prAna Men’s Sutra Pants
For prAna, a brand that puts sustainability at the heart of its casual, travel, and activewear, these are generally considered to be a top choice for aspiring (or expert) male yogi.
They’re made from a blend of hemp and recycled polyester to create a woven, stretch fabric for a relaxed fit. They’re also quick drying and boast “natural odour reducing features” – which sounds ominous but will be very welcome when you get that sweat on. They’re as practical as yoga pants get with front and back pockets, and with an understated style that makes them a good, summery option for everyday wear too.
OHMME Dharma Graphite
OHMME was created specifically to encourage men to get into yoga, with intelligent design to make it easier for men to move freely and look good while they’re at it. The brand is also focused on honest and ethical production. These Dharma Graphite pants have the distinction of being both flexible and snug, but they have plenty of power too, with an extra strong seam and resistant stretch for those tougher positions.
Moisture-wicking technology will keep you dry even if a dynamic flow yoga session is testing your joints to their limits. “The more dynamic the practice the more robust you need your pants to be,” says Magee. “If you’re doing Vinyasa classes or Ashtanga, something that’s going to get you really sweating and moving around, you’ll want something moisture wicking.”
To the untrained eye, these are regular sweat pants. But coming from arguably the most trusted sports clothing brand in the world, it’s no surprise there’s much more to these cosy-looking pants. They’re made from a soft jersey fabric and the legs are tapered, but the real magic is in the big, roomy gusset (where else?) which allows you to move freely and shift into positions without getting in a tangle or hampering your flexibility.
True to the name, Nike’s Dri-FIT technology keeps you dry, comfortable, and sweat-free. And as well as standard slash pockets, there’s an “internal media pocket”. Somewhere to stick your phone in other words.
These pants are made from a blend of high-quality organic cotton and Lycra, which makes them soft on the skin. But they’re also practical, built with a baggy, lowered crotch and extra stretch for dynamic flexibility and shape retention. The ankle cuffs will stop the legs from riding up, while generally the pants are solid all-rounders – perfect for bossing all types of workouts and comfy enough for everyday lounging.
Adidas Alphaskin Tights
As much tights as they are actual pants, this compression-style pair are especially good for slower, less energetic types of yoga such as Ying and Hatha. The stretchy knit fabric gives you complete freedom of movement while supporting your body. They also wick away moisture to keep you cool and dry if you do take it up a notch to a more intense yoga class – not to mention being perfect for performance and support in general sports training.
There’s a rugged, urban feel to these – they’re not built for yummy mummies in leafy suburbs. Made from relaxed-fit, stretch organic cotton. They combine the more practical elements of your run-of-the-mill trousers – with belt loops, functional crotch paneling, zip fly, and deep pocket space – but rebuilt for extra movement.
They have a slim, tapered fit and flat seams that won’t irritate during your stretches. And they double up as regular summer trousers which will pair with just about any tee in your wardrobe.
Lululemon In Mind Pant
Lightweight, high stretch yoga pants from one of the world’s top brands for yogi-inspired athletic clobber. They’re made for bending, made from fabric that has four-way stretch. These will also keep you dry, with moisture wicking and quick drying technology. Perhaps most attractive is the fact these represent a step towards everyday sports style – if you’re put off by the big bohemian trousers and hippie look, these offer a more discrete, everyday style.
Domyos Dynamic Pants
There’s a big emphasis on eco-friendly products from this brand, the brainchild of a team which includes a spectrum of beginner level to expert yogi. Much like the mindfulness that’s such a cornerstone of yoga, Domyos products are all about finding some balance.
The pants are made from recycled polyester, with plenty of flexibility and sweat-absorbing features to cut back on the moisture as you move from pose to pose. The lightweight feel is a big sell, but they’re warming too and will feel like a part of your body – perfect for both yoga and meditation.