Yoga Apparel - To Flow or Not To Flow?

This year my confusion about Yoga Apparel and what to wear became more prevalent than ever. During the early stages of March last year when we started staying home on some permanent basis I, like many others went to work in my home and did my practice on my deck or in my living room. (That is typical for me.) I do not participate in many studio classes, they seem well…distracting from my purpose with Yoga. Because of the circumstances, however, I would wake up very early in the morning to get my practice in before my family would wake up and be on their way to varying parts of the house for work and school. This led to some of those days, if I woke up late enough - experiencing Yoga in my ……No don’t say it…pajamas. (Yep- as if Im the only one). I rightfully admit that my capri cozy pajama pants became my go-to apparel for my Yoga practice for a short time. Well... they are loose, I can hike up the legs for Tree Pose and certainly can bend and easily move in them which is all of the right ingredients for Yoga Wear. 

I have fantastic leggings and so many people love the style and comfort of a well designed legging. The Yama Yoga Store offers awesome unique ankle-length designs with max comfort. They are fantastic for any workout including running. Leggings have become very associated with Yoga…and now, in this era people call them Yoga Pants. On tables and clothing wracks around any mall or outdoor market - the legging table reads Yoga Pants and every woman, teen, tween, and kid are sporting them for shopping, dining and their workout.


There is a historical transition and a timeline of the events moving from the more cotton, lightweight and loose Yoga wear to leggings being acceptably called Yoga Pants. But here is the kicker, I believe there are two types of Yoga wear and two types of Yoga wearers (Is that a word?)...and these very different styles are all called Yoga Pants. 

The dhoti, when only men did yoga, (what?) was the go-to for the practice. It is a cloth that is swaddled onto the lower body in a somewhat complex wrapping technique. While not generally used here in the West these are still used today. Once on the body, it would would allow for complete and easy movement along with covering the essentials. (See Image Below)


In a jump in time to the very first Yoga classes in the 1960s, in America practitioners of Yoga were wearing white Yoga suits that were accommodating to movements akin to modern-day Kundalini. This was short-lived as a larger trending style. So along came BKS Iyengar who modernized the dhoti into shorts (Yoga Bloomers) which was not very well received at the time.

The Hugger Mugger shorts (available today) left little to the imagination in certain Yoga positions. Most men and women at that time wore the bloomers, comically called Yoga Diapers, and a tee-shirt to classes. Then along came the leotard (think Jane Fonda-1980's) and the Yogatard or Unitard that I found for sale on varying Yoga apparel sites. Are they bringing this back? 


Then in the last few decades, we have seen the Capri and wide-legged cotton Yoga pant come onto the scene. The Capri moved into the modern light weight material, fold-over waistband, and at a comfort level second to none... and now we circle back around to the ankle length Yoga Leggings of today.

It would be irresponsible for me not to mention the many encounters on the web with the short-short and sport bra culture. Both the bra and shorts are prevalent in social media and present in many popular Yoga outlets. Many view this as a subculture of Yoga and Yoga wear where there are some disagreements under the Yoga philosophical umbrella to the hyper-sexualized presence of this style choice.

Since March I have moved into wearing the more fluid Yoga styles slightly more but not without moving back and forth between legging capris and Yoga (Harem) Pants. It really depends on the level of Yoga Im practicing and where. I have found fluid Yoga pants or Harem, or Buddha style pants are versatile and can be worn almost anywhere for any reason and look and feel great. These are excellent for outdoor Yoga Practices and if I'm in the mountains or at the beach this is my go to wear....I love practical. In longer and Yoga level 2-3 sequences the compression feel of a legging is amazing.  

I am almost complete with my 200 hour YTT. In a practical way for a class, the legging wins. As an instructor I want to see posture alignment - no better way than with clothing that has a tighter fit to the body. But there is a culture of Yogis who beg to differ ...that the fluidity of the clothing is key to the fluidity of the body's movement. Fluid clothing equals a fluid mind and an ease to meditation with lighter clothing that doesn't stick to the body. 

While trends come and go I offer many styles in the Yama Yoga Store. For myself now, picking one would be futile...and choosing to practice in a capri jammy from time to time is OK. On and off the mat both styles are trending hard and I see no serious transition to a new style. 

Here are some general ideas in what to look for in Yoga Apparel:

  • Comfort
  • Breathability
  • Fit - How do they fit you?
  • Form Fitting or Fluid Design
  • Warmth
  • Flexibility
  • Support 

What styles do you wear for Yoga practice?


Sat Nam ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ

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