8 best yoga pants
Flow into the new year with the help of some yogi-approved gear
Type yoga into any search engine and you'll immediately find hundreds of articles highlighting its benefits. Not only does it increase flexibility and muscle strength, but it can help with weight loss and stress. In recent years, it has enjoyed a particular boom following the advent of Instagram and an increase in the number of people focused on wellbeing and mindfulness.
Whether you’re a total beginner or a seasoned yogi, there’s one piece of crucial kit (other than your mat, of course): yoga pants. Picking the wrong pair can hinder your flexibility, leave you struggling to get into poses and mean that you get super sweaty.
When choosing a pair, you first need to think about what type of practice you do. Love nothing more than an energetic Vinyasa class? Choose something with a close fit, a good stretch and breathable material. Prefer a relaxing hour of Yin? Looser pants are your friend.
Whatever your preference, we have spent the last month testing pairs from across the market. From wide-legged fisherman-style pants to reversible leggings that’ll take you from the gym to the studio, we’ve listed the best eight below. So, whether you’re a devoted yogi who goes to the studio three times a week or an avid beginner who’d rather follow a YouTube video in the comfort of your own living room, we can guarantee you’ll find the perfect pair.
Lululemon Align Pant Super Hi-Rise: £88, Lululemon
Founded more than 20 years ago, Lululemon prides itself on its innovative designs. It is unsurprising, then, that these unique pants from the brand are a cut above the rest. Not only do they offer superior comfort, but the super high-rise design stops you worrying about showing off your belly every time you go into downward dog. The specialist Nulu fabric is lightweight and extremely soft to the touch (we found ourselves absent-mindedly smoothing our legs at every possible moment).
The material also offers the same sweat-wicking benefits as some of the other pairs that we tried, which is perfect if you want to wear them to a particularly energetic class. The sizing was spot on and they are available from a UK size 6 to a size 16. Plus, there are five colours to choose from if you’d rather a pair in merlot or olive. We found that even after washing these a number of times, they maintained their shape. Yes, they are the most expensive pair on our list – but we honestly think that these are worth saving up for.
M-Life Classic Om Leggings: £18 (down from £60), M-Life
We liked the unusual Om design of these leggings by M-Life, with the quirky black and grey pattern an immediate hit with our fellow yogis. Made predominantly from polyamide, the moisture wicking, seamless design is similar to many of the other pairs on the market, but they do hold their shape extremely well and are also well suited to cross training, especially if you’re a runner or fancy mixing it up with a bit of pilates.
Make sure you treat these leggings like tights, pulling the excess fabric up from the ankle to ensure full coverage and range of movement. When you wash them, it’s best to turn them inside out to help protect them (don’t worry about forgetting this, as it’s printed on the inside of the waistband). There’s a good size guide on M-Life’s website and they are available in S/M, M/L and XS.
Sweaty Betty Reversible 7/8 Yoga Leggings: £80, Sweaty Betty
If you’re looking for something to take you from your morning jog to your lunchtime yoga class, these Sweaty Betty leggings offer both style and comfort. Their unique reversible style allows you to change them from a blue feather print to black, meaning you can match them with most other gym gear (perfect for those #instayogis). If you’re conscious of being seen in the same style twice, it also means these are the only pair of leggings you need in your gym bag – even if you’re going to two classes that day.
The brand describes them as "downward dog safe" due to the high waistline and opaque fabric, which is also highly stretchy to help you stay comfortable even in the toughest of poses. The cropped style also means there’s no gathering of fabric at the knees. We found the material these leggings were made out of didn’t provide as much grip for your feet in tree pose, but the pair was otherwise faultless.
They are available from a XXS to an XL – as a UK size 10, we tried the small and found them a little tight, so would recommend sizing up if you can. They are also highly easy to maintain as they are machine washable and dry relatively quickly in comparison to some of the other pairs.
Domyos Yoga Women’s Seamless 7/8 Leggings: £12.99, Decathlon
You may expect a £12.99 pair of yoga pants to have no bells and whistles, but you’d be wrong to assume that with this pair. These leggings have clearly been designed with a yogi in mind; the seamless technology really does help to prevent rubbing, particularly during the longer sessions, while the lightweight, stretchy material enables maximum freedom of movement during dynamic yoga classes. Like many of the other pairs, the fabric (which is predominantly polyamide) is breathable so it doesn’t matter how sweaty you get.
They are a slightly looser fit in comparison to the pairs by Lululemon and Sweaty Betty and if you do go for these, pay good heed to the care instructions and wash them inside out, otherwise the colour fades quite quickly. While they only come in navy blue or an olive-black shade, they are available in a good range of sizes (from XXS to XL). We’d recommend these leggings to beginners looking for a decent pair of pants to wear while you get to grips with the poses.
Manduka Essential Leggings: £60, Yoga Studio
These may look like wet-look fashion leggings at first glance, but they are one of the most effective and comfiest pairs that we tried. Made from nylon and elastane, they fit well and boast a higher waist to provide the coverage (and courage) you need to get into even the most complicated of poses. The stretchy material allows a full range of movement, while the double-layer gusset ensures full underwear coverage.
We found it was best to wear a short sleeved top with these leggings, as otherwise the material slipped during extended side angle due to the shiny pebble effect. Available in sizes from XS to XL, these leggings are easy to care for with the only recommendation to wash them in a low temperature without using fabric softener (as it can damage their wicking and breathability).
Thai Fisherman’s Pants: £14, Yogamatters
If you’re pregnant, fancy a more relaxing session or just ate too much over the Christmas period (don’t worry, we are all guilty of that), these loose fisherman-style pants by Yogamatters are a great alternative to some of the more fitted brands we tested. Made from 100 per cent cotton, the one size fits all style (with a waist of 126cm) may be off-putting at first – but, as it is designed to, the additional material easily wraps around the waist and can be tied to form a belt.
Due to their loose-fitting nature, we found these allowed us to go deeper into shavasana, while also giving us the full range of movement we needed for stretches during restorative classes. The cropped style also meant there’s no chance of you slipping on the hem, although we’d probably choose a different pair for a more energetic Vinyasa class. These are perfect, however, for lounging around at home if you’d rather spend your afternoon on the sofa than at the yoga studio. They are available in three other colours – white, cream or black - and at £14, we think these are a total steal.
Nike Victory Women’s Training Capris: £26.95, Nike
These are our go-to leggings if we want to include a bit of yoga at the end of our gym session. While they aren’t specifically designed with yogis in mind, this lightweight pair features many of the same benefits as the specialist brands. The Dri-FIT technology wicks away sweat from the body, meaning you’ll stay dry and shouldn't get cold, even if you leave your stretching to the end of a particularly hardcore gym session.
They are made predominantly from polyester and are extremely well fitted, providing a good level of compression and support. They don’t require any special measures when you’re washing them and we found that these lasted for months without losing their shape. Plus, we just love the classy black and white design.
prAna Pillar Printed Capri: £29.41, prAna
prAna markets itself as a sustainable brand, claiming to go the extra mile to design all of its products with the "best possible materials and practices". These three-quarter length Pillar Printed pants, then, should be a natural winner for any yogis hoping to do their bit for the planet. Not only are they organic and made from recycled polyester, but they have been Bluesign certified, meaning the textile supply chain is checked to minimise the impact on both people and the environment.
Their funky style will help you stand out in any class, while they also boast a hidden pocket, moisture-wicking fabric and no side seams. These pants are mid-rise, so they sit lower on the hips than some of the other designs we tried, resulting in a little more skin on show when transferring from pose to pose. Overall, a good pair that will get any yogi comfortably through their practice.
The verdict: Yoga pants
There are dozens of yoga pants on the market, from cropped three-quarter length pairs to high-waisted styles. Throughout our testing, we couldn't get away from the quality and effectiveness of Lululemon's Align Pant Super Hi-Rise – they are a clear favourite for us and have been a staple of our yoga kit for a good couple of months now.
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