Why I’m Boycotting Yoga Pants

There are two types of yogis: those who succumb to the stereotypical gotta-have-the-perfect-yoga-gear-wear-and-rear and those who don’t.  I fall into the latter category. It’s not that I have anything against the mostly white, female, upper-middle class, lululemon-wearing folks who make up the majority of yoga classes I’ve been to, it’s just that I refuse to be one of them.

Let me explain. Yoga to me is like any other workout I do (yes, I know it opens your mind and your soul like nothing else, but for now, let’s stick to the physical aspect). It offers a host of bodily benefits, just like running, cycling or swimming. And in any one of those activities, I am there to work. Not to look good. For that reason, I don’t wear running skirts (even though girlfriends have told me how delightful the breeze can be on our lady parts). I don’t have matchy biking gear — my bike, helmet, jersey, shorts and socks are all different colors (I’m doing well if they’re clean). And I don’t ever show up to a race with makeup on. Doing any — or all — of those things would, in my mind, catapult me from the category of athlete to poser.

Which brings me to yoga pants. Even though yoga pants can be extremely flattering (I do own a pair that were given to me as a gift) and Tim Gunn instructs us to “subscribe to silhouette, proportion and fit” when choosing our workout apparel, I have boycotted them.

For starters, they’re too expensive. If I’m going to dish out $98 for something, it’s going to be that super-cute little sundress I’ve been eying, not a pair of pants for hot yoga that will wind up stuck to my dripping legs after 10 minutes and become a huge stink-bomb in my laundry room for the next 24 hours. I always opt for shorts (yes, I know that makes tree pose and crow pose especially challenging, but such is the life of a sweaty, laundry-challenged yogi).

Secondly, if I were to wear yoga pants, I would feel ridiculous — like I’ve somehow succumbed to the yoga cult of having to dress or look a certain way in order to practice. I try to avoid that stereotype as much as possible because it’s just not true. As a matter of fact, I’m working with my yoga studio right now to expand classes outside the studio walls and bring them to local schools, shelters and public venues. I’m a huge fan of Yoga to the People (“There will be no correct clothes“), and if I lived in New York City, that would be my studio of choice.

I know some people who are obsessed with their chic yoga attire and swear by the comfort and shape that these $100 pants bring to their booty, but I will never be the one toting around a logo-embossed yoga bag, wearing fancy gear and designer clothes. Instead, you can find me on my $20 Target mat with black Champion shorts and a pink boot camp tank top.



Photo: Creative Commons


Share This Post:
    • The Dreadnought

      Namaste! I often feel like I’m the only woman in my classes wearing Target yoga pants and a $5 tank top.

    • islandgirl

      This article comes off as incredibly sanctimonious and pretentious. Yes, I wear yoga pants…. because I find them to be the most comfortable thing to wear during yoga and other forms of exercise. The price is worth it to me because they last forever; my first pair I bought 8 years ago still look pretty good.
      Being lumped into 1 of two types of yogis, as you say, “those who succumb to the stereotypical gotta-have-the-perfect-yoga-gear-and-rear” is a tad narrow minded.
      I’ve never really given much thougt to what others around me in class are wearing, but I assume what they are wearing was chosen for their comfort level, not for ulterior motives.

      • Briana Rognlin

        Hmmn… I see where you’re coming from, but at least in the studios I go to, I do feel like there’s a lot of pressure to look good and wear the right clothes. (In addition to being able to do headstands and somehow manage pigeon pose without five bolsters!) I fully admit that I’m one of those women who Deborah probably hates; I get a little thrill out of buying a pair of lululemon pants once in awhile, and they’re really comfortable (maybe that’s why I wear through them so fast).

        But I do think it’s ridiculous that yoga, of all activities, has started to feel like it requires its own fashionable uniform, and I think the post is just poking fun at that. It’s okay, Deborah, you can make fun of me and my lululemon :)

    • Kathy

      I also wear inexpensive clothes, and not just for yoga. But since I get to wear what I want to wear, I guess other people can wear what they want to wear, too, even if it means they pay way too much! Deborah, let’s all take a nice big breath, and enjoy what we are doing today.

    • parker thompson

      This article really does come off as pretentious and judgemental. I highly doubt that most people care what you are or are not wearing to yoga class. I’ve been to some of the trendiest yoga studios in Manhattan and have NEVER felt like an outsider because I choose to not wear my $98 yoga pants.. To judge a studio solely based on popularity and press is incredibly narrow-minded and I’m sorry you’ll be missing out on some amazing classes and teachers because you don’t want to be considered a “poser.”

    • dragonmamma/naomi

      Looks like you hit a nerve with this one! I don’t attend any yoga classes, but I’m the “greeter” at a gym (with various classes such as zumba, boot-camp, tai-chi, yoga) and I’m nodding my head vigorously in agreement. I can spot most of the folks looking for the yoga class by the way they dress.

    • morgan

      Great article. I do worry sometimes when I head out for yoga or spin that I have the wrong clothes on, but it has never got me tossed out of class yet. I often find those with the best matching clothes seldom continue classes. Like you, I go with what is clean that day. :)

    • Seapica

      I love this. After recently needing a new, warmer pair of pants to practice in I was appalled at how much a pair of ‘yoga pants’ would set me back. $100 for a pair of lycra pants made in china? Its just obcene. JUST because they have the word ‘yoga’ an ohm and/or a screenprint of a lotus flower on the bum?

      Finally after trying on several pairs and shaking my head at more than a few price tags I found the most comfortable pair of 100 percent cotton pants on sale. They look great, they breath and they allow me to move freely. I bought two pairs for $20 and felt a great sense of satisfaction.

      If youre comparing yourself to others and the gear they have I cant help but think you may be missing a very wonderful and significant part of yoga. That ‘stuff’ really doesnt matter. Let it go.


    • Brittney America

      i dont know where you guys are shopping but i get my perfectly good, and dare i say cute yoga pants at forever 21 for $12. I would not spend $98 on yoga pants