This is the blog post I know you've all been waiting for. And there is nothing more important to a yogi like myself than yoga leggings, or pants as the Americans like to call them. It's now entirely justifiable to wear them out to the shops, on the school run or even jazzing them up with a smart top on a night out - ok that's just me then...
But OMG there are so many different types out there it's just so hard to know what to go for when choosing these stretchy trousers that transform you inside and out. Do not worry though - I have pulled together a full list of what to look for in your trusted yoga leggings.
The Classic black lycra leggings
The must have in the yoga legging wardrobe. There's nothing bad to be said about the classic black lycra leggings, which can be worn with every single top you have, are extremely flattering and the go to for your 'I'm feeling fat' days. And if you're a little bit skanky or the class didn't even make you break a sweat, you can whip on a going out top and hey presto - a ready-made going out outfit! Every yogi should have a pair.
The shiny leggings
These are the ones that you slide off in any arm balance or twist if you're in a sweaty class. You're just getting into the posture, you're feeling really strong, you're going to get into it for the first time, and then whoosh you're on the floor in a heap. But definitely a pretty, shiny heap. They have their benefits especially in Ashtanga yoga helping with jump throughs and jump backs and when you're trying to slowly edge yourself out of lotus in fish pose
The designer leggings
The leggings that you know you can't afford even though you just got paid, but your life critically depends on having them in your wardrobe. Your life literally won't be the same if you don't have them. Of course £100 is a reasonable amount to spend on a pair of leggings. Yoga is so not about going deep into yourself it's about rocking poses for instagram and these leggings will totally be worth it for the number of likes you're going to get in them.
The cotton leggings
Often the cheapest option from your local Primarni, the cotton, cheap as chips leggings are a stalwart in the yoga wardrobe. They're great for any postures that require grip (arm balances and twists) and soak up the sweat nicely. They do have their negatives in that they often go wrinkly at the knees aka the Nora Batty look, they're more prone to getting holes and going pretty see through in the buttocks region and they don't have that nice thick band at the top that keeps your muffin top nicely held in. But at about £5 a pop you can't really complain.
The reversible leggings
Because wearing one pair of leggings is never enough. Wear it one way to class jump in the shower, switch them round and hey presto you've got your yoga and going out gear sorted. Again too skanky? Sweaty Betty have a beautiful pair that matches my mood - black or bright and happy (below right) - I obviously only wear them the bright and happy way round.
The running leggings
I'm talking about the running leggings here with the zip on the back to store your belongings when out on the road. This little zip, although seemingly innocuous to a runner can become the bain of your life when practising yoga on your back. And if you left a pair of keys in there before practice then there's going to be some sweaking when you come to lying down on your back.
I admire anyone who can rock out a yoga onesie. It's not something I have the confidence to don but some people really rock these all in one suits aka my yogi friend Carlijn. The many benefits include that you don't have to spend hours making sure your top and bottoms match perfectly and they give you much more freedom - no leggings that need pulling up or down, making them a joy to practice in. There are some negatives, the main one being that once you've got them on and you need the loo...well it's all a bit of a mission. To anyone confident enough to wear one - I salute you!
These can be a good or a very dodgy option. Too short and you risk showing your lady garden off to a whole class of people, which no one wants to see. To avoid this always, always, always make sure you have a tight pair underneath or better still, my favourite double lined shorts. There's absolutely no chance of mishaps there. Shorts are great for when you're in a Bikram yoga class and every last drop of water is being sweated out of your pores, but when it comes to any arm balances or twists and you've been sweating, you're going to be in the same heap on the floor as the shiny legging yogi, just without any shine.
And not to miss out on yoga bottoms for guys...
I always think guys have it hard when it comes to yoga wear. There are many less brands dedicated to the art of yoga wear compared to the women's market and most guys I know would be pretty reticent about pulling on a pair of leggings (oh the vanity of them) but they can make the biggest difference to your practice. All opinions here are purely from my observations so feel free any men out there to clear things up for me!
I see lots of guys rocking the boardies in class. I guess they'd be good from a getting hot and sweaty perspective but they don't have a huge amount of give, not being elastic. You often see guys having to keep tugging them up in certain postures, which completely ruins the flow. And if you get a bit hot and sweaty and they start slipping down all sorts of problems can occur.
The are you sure they're not boxers
The guys who you swear are wearing their boxer shorts. You can't say anything - that would be rude...but you do just keep catching a glimpse...Do you think they've actually just got out of bed and thought 'Nah I can't be arsed to get dressed for yoga, I'll just go in what I'm wearing.'
I only tend to see these in Bikram classes (that might be one of the reasons I don't go anymore) but even so no one wants to be exposed to men in that small a piece of material bending themselves into a pretzel. A yoga law needs to be invented to stop men (and women) from indecently exposing themselves during class.
The too baggy ones
Similar to the fact girls should never wear shorts without an under layer in yoga, this whole heartedly goes for the men too. I have had the unfortunate experience in a supine twist of being exposed to parts of a random man's body I did not want to see. Sweaty, hairy - need I say more. Understandably I don't have or want a photo of this!
The cycling shorts
If you're not ready for pulling on a pair of leggings yet, these look like the best option to me. Enough give for those super bendy postures and covering up enough of the legs to avoid exposure - everyone is happy. The negative, the same as for women - sweaty legs = slippery.
The summer shorts
Generally worn by the guy who has been dragged along to yoga by his girlfriend. He doesn't have anything suitable to wear so he's just pulled on his Abercrombie and Fitch shorts thinking how hard can this yoga malarkey be. It's all going ok until Warrior I when he has to split his legs apart and there literally isn't any give. He's stuck in a strange wide-legged stance going a little bit red...
And then, the brave few men who are willing to don the yoga leggings and never want to go back. Although there are definitely less options on the market than for women the classic black legging tends to be the most popular. That is unless you're Dave Pearce (@DaretoMove) who proudly rocks out the most exceptional leggings, from cycadelic colours to unicorns - they never fail to put a smile on your face.
So there we have it - a full on expose into the world of yoga leggings. Let me know what you love wearing and why - and any other styles I've missed out I would love to hear!!