The best yoga pants are ones that stay put while practicing, flex with your body, keep you covered where you need to be (even in the more exotic poses) and are breathable for when you start to get a sweat on. We should say here, for avoidance of doubt, that when we talk about the best yoga pants we're using that in the American sense, meaning leggings, shorts or trousers, rather than underwear. You're on your own on that front, we're afraid.
One of the big draws of yoga is that you really don't need a lot to get started. The priority is to sort yourself out with one of the best yoga mats. But after that, you'll find that it can help to pick up some dedicated yoga clothing – what you wear can play a surprisingly big part in how successful or enjoyable you'll find your practice. Choose wrongly and you're in for an awkward, distracted and uncomfortable yoga sesh.
Leggings, harem pants or sweatpants are all great options as they are stretchy and allow you full range of movement. Some people may also prefer to go for short yoga pants for a cooler practice, although there you'll need to be more mindful about coverage. No one wants to be worrying about flashing their crotch to the class.
In this guide, we've picked out what we think are the top yoga pants around now. If you're building up your yoga setup, you might also want to check out our guides to the best yoga blocks (for getting into tricky poses, and deepening stretches) and the best yoga towels (these lay on your mat, to add a sweat-absorbing, grippy layer). But for now, let's take a look at the best yoga pants you can buy.
Best yoga pants 2022, reviewed
The best yoga pants you can buy right now are the BAM Poise. This brand specialises in activewear made from bamboo, and these are made from bamboo jersey, which is a blend of bamboo viscose, organic cotton and a bit of elastane for stretch. It's soft, stretchy, and boasts some strong eco credentials to boot. In my tests, I found them ultra-comfy and unrestrictive. There's a deep waistband that's designed to hug your waist, and which can either be worn super-high or folded down. I found it fitted slightly on the large size, which might be a blessing because the size range isn't hugely inclusive – it tops out at a UK16. A loose fit on the leg means you can stretch any way you like without having to readjust, while the ankle cuffs ensures these yoga pants aren't flapping around and also enables you to easily adjust the length by pulling them up or down. The fabric is soft and breathable, although be aware that it doesn't offer any support – if you want some gentle compression, look at some of the leggings in this list instead.
If you have a higher budget, you'll struggle to do better than the Lululemon Instill High-Rise Tight 25" – our pick for the best premium yoga pants. These spenny leggings are absurdly soft and extremely stretchy. I've worn them a few times for demanding yoga practices and they move effortlessly with every pose, and require minimal readjusting. In fact, they're so comfy you can almost forget you're wearing them.
The fabric behaves differently from any other pair of leggings I've worn – it feels almost like a very thick pair of tights (don't worry, they deliver Utkatasana-proof coverage). The matte finish and high-waisted, curved cut is flattering, although I'm not a fan of all the colour options – thankfully there are navy and black versions in the mix, too. A card-sized pocket integrated into the waistband gives you somewhere to stash your gym pass, and if I was going to nit-pick – and I will because these are extremely pricey – I'd like a zip on it. While these didn't ride down at all during my tests, I'd also prefer if these came with a drawstring built in, so there's the option to adjust the fit it needs be. But these are minor complaints in what is an excellent pair of yoga leggings.
If you want decent leggings for under £40, head to Marks and Spencers. This high street favourite has a range of leggings that aren't a world away from Sweaty Betty's finest, but cost half the price. Our pick for the best budget yoga pants are the Go Balance leggings from the M&S Moodmove line. There are no bells and whistles here – they lack pockets and a drawstring, and there's only one or perhaps two colour options – but they are a great basic option with a high waist, four-way stretch, and squat-proof, matte, blackout fabric. They're also made using a percentage of recycled polyester. The one minor design flourish – a crossover waistband – has proved a little divisive, with some reviewers saying they'd prefer a regular flat waistband. However, most reviewers praise these for being soft, flexible, comfy and great value.
If you find leggings restrictive, how about the Yogamatters Eco Yoga Shorts? Typically, shorts aren't that well suited for yoga, because the tighter ones tend to ride up (just me?) while the looser ones come with a very real danger of flashing your crotch to fellow yogis in certain poses. These address the problem by opting for a cut that has close-fitting, wide and stretchy cuffs on the legs and waist, while everything in between is roomy and voluminous. An unfortunate down-side of that style is that it does, at some angles, resemble nothing so much as a big nappy.
Despite that, I'm a huge fan of these short yoga pants. They require zero readjustment, are ultra comfy and unrestrictive, and I found the feeling of practicing in bare legs very freeing. There are two big pockets within the balloon-style legs, although I wouldn't want to put anything valuable in them, and Yogamatters has eschewed labels in favour of printed info so there's nothing scratchy to irritate your skin. I'm also a fan of Yogamatters' eco-conscious and ethical ethos.
Tasteful navys and charcoal greys are all well and good, but sometimes you want something a little more fun for your yoga getup. Sweaty Betty's colourful Super Sculpt yoga leggings range will give you a mood boost even before you hit the mat. This brand is a firm activewear favourite – chances are you've spotted some of its prints at your gym already – so you know you're getting a quality product for that slightly premium price tag. These particular yoga pants are 'high compression', with a particular emphasis on giving you a pert looking bum. Ideal for those who like to feel they're supported and a little sucked in during their practice, but not so good for those who want something that feels more loose and free. The high waist helps keep them firmly in place, they're available in full or 7/8 lengths to suit your preference, and the fabric uses 17 recycled plastic bottles, so there's a nod to sustainability there too. These aren't what we'd call dedicated yoga pants; you'll be able to happily wear them to any kind of gym class and they're stylish enough to also pop on for a weekend brunch (there's a flat side pocket on the leg that can be handy for popping a phone in too).
If you want a pair of general-use leggings that'll see you happily to a yoga class, the Nike Yoga Luxe pants might be a good choice. These combine an ultra high waist with a 7/8 leg, which bodes well for staying up and in place. The size range is much more inclusive that many of the yoga pants on our list, and the slightly cropped leg length means more petite yogis can wear these as full-length pants without extra fabric ruching at the bottom. They're made from Nike's 'Infinalon', which is buttery soft, squat-proof, and designed to deliver just the right level of supportive compression. They also have a special treatment designed to wick sweat away from the body. A couple of potential flaws to be aware of: a few reviews commented that the fabric can ball up between the thighs, and a few also found they didn't stay up reliably.
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These Alo Yoga Triumph Sweatpants are as stylish as they are soft, and those who bought them say they are nice enough to wear out and about as well as in the yoga studio. They are designed with practicality in mind, featuring two invisible zip pockets that will allow you to keep any essentials close by when working out. The fit is said to be very flattering and the material is super-soft and light. If you're after style and comfort for your weekly yoga and lounging around the house, these are a very popular choice. Choose from a range of colours.
How to choose the best yoga pants: buying advice
Are yoga pants and leggings the same thing?
Yoga pants and leggings aren't exactly the same thing, but there is some overlap in how the terms are used. Yoga pants are designed specifically for practicing yoga in, and will often be used to refer to a more harem-style pant (with loose legs and crotch, ankle cuffs and a wide waistband). In contrast, leggings are those tight, stretchy pants you can wear for any gym class, or indeed outside of the gym. Colloquially, however, some people will use the term 'yoga pants' to mean 'leggings', especially when talking about them in a fashion sense. Which confuses things rather. Retailers will also sometimes use the term 'yoga pants' just to tell you that a pair of leggings is suitable for doing yoga in.
Should yoga pants be tight or loose?
It's up to you! With tight yoga pants / leggings, you don't have to deal with excess fabric, which can get in the way in some poses, and you can also wear this style of pants for any kind of workout. Some tight yoga pants are designed to deliver a slight feeling of compression, which can be reassuring as you move around. On the flip side, some people feel more comfortable in looser, harem-style yoga pants. Whichever style you go for, make sure they fit snugly around the waist, or they'll be rolling down every five minutes and disrupting your practice.