Who doesn’t love a great pair of shorts on a hot summer day? You show some skin, catch some rays, and maybe even get a few compliments on the way.
But when it comes to practicing yoga, wearing shorts is somewhat controversial in the community. Should you wear shorts to the yoga studio? Is it a matter of comfort or etiquette? Are some shorts better than others?
These are all questions worth addressing, and we’re here to give some answers, because here at YogaClub, we’re pretty much experts on all things yoga attire. Let’s talk about the pros and cons of yoga shorts and what types you should add to your athletic wear wardrobe moving forward.
Leggings vs. Shorts – The Great Debate
These days, leggings are synonymous with yoga and the lifestyle that goes with it. We even use the terms leggings and yoga pants interchangeably, even though they’re not quite the same.
There’s no doubt that slim and sleek pants make our lower halves look great, but there’s a performance aspect to these garments as well. Yoga pants have a slight compression effect in the thighs, calves, and butt, which help improve circulation and give us a boost when doing difficult flows and poses.
Long leggings also give us complete coverage on the leg, which helps minimize friction between our skin and the yoga mat or silk hammocks when performing aerial yoga. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a friction “burn” during yoga class, you’ll know what a literal pain in the butt it can be.
Some say that long pants are beneficial for their temperature-regulating effects and ability to wick away moisture when enduring hot yoga classes or long cardio sessions. We’ll let you be the judge of that since everyone has their own preferences, but advanced materials (nylon, spandex, etc.) certainly offer greater comfort.
It’s worth mentioning that some of us simply feel more comfortable wearing long pants during yoga class, especially as we bend and contort into some unusual positions in front of people we don’t personally know.
We’ll get into various styles and shapes later on, but for now, just know that there are advantages to both types of garments.
Sometimes Shorts Are Best
Let’s say you’re attending a very mellow yoga class or perhaps an outdoor yoga event where the sun is shining bright in the park or on the beach. You’re probably going to want to wear a pair of shorts and leave the long leggings behind for the day!
Alternatively, some of the top yoga practitioners also like to wear shorts because they allow for greater skin contact with the mat, the sand, the earth, or wherever else they might be practicing.
After all, yoga is all about getting in touch with your body and grounding yourself in a peaceful way – shorts are sometimes your best pick to make this happen.
Many of us like to transition to a yoga class following a heavy workout at the gym, including cardio, weights, or calisthenics. If you’ve already got your shorts on and you’ve worked up a sweat for the past hour, there’s no point in swapping them out for leggings before you hit the mat.
With that said, you should get used to carrying a small towel around with you to wipe away the sweat if it begins to interfere with your flow. Many poses require contact between the arms and legs, and you don’t want to be slipping and sliding all over the place.
If you’re someone who just enjoys following along with a yoga video at home to unwind after work or start your day off right, there’s probably no harm in wearing shorts, either. Many of us have even done some casual at-home yoga in our underwear – no shame in that!
Yoga shorts are, once again, a matter of personal preference. What’s comfortable for you might not be so great for others. The best way to determine the best pants for the job is to simply practice a lot of yoga and see what works for you in each situation.
Maybe you like to wear shorts during chilled-out yin yoga class, but prefer to wear some compression leggings to more athletic yoga endeavors. Always be willing to try new things and keep your wardrobe fresh to stay ahead of the game.
Loose Fitting vs. Tight Shorts
So far, we’ve just talked about shorts in a general sense, but as you know, there are many different styles, so let’s start with the loose- vs. tight-fitting shorts debate.
On the one hand, you’ve got those baggy, flowing shorts that tend to be very lightweight and make you feel like you’re one with nature. Nothing says “good vibes” like some groovy yoga shorts that give you plenty of room to move around.
Yes, the fabric can get in the way during some complex poses, but for the typical yoga fan who isn’t going head-over-heels during class, these are great shorts to keep in the drawer. Plus, they look great for a simple stroll through the park or a trip to the beach. Very versatile!
Tight shorts, on the other hand, seem to be the more utilitarian option when building out your athletic wear wardrobe. They cling close to the skin, won’t get in your way, and even offer some of that compression effect that gives you a performance advantage.
They may not be as fun or flowy to wear, but tighter shorts will be your best option if your goal is to perform at peak levels in all of your workouts – yoga included.
Long vs. Short Shorts
How long can shorts be before they’re no longer considered shorts? This is one of history’s great philosophical questions, and we’ll take a worthy stab at it here.
From our point of view, shorts are shorts as long as they end at least a couple of inches above the knee. That’s why we can safely say that bike shorts fall into this category, even though they might be a bit long for some folks.
Speaking of bike shorts, we think that these are some of the best yoga garments that money can buy! They offer plenty of coverage on the butt and thighs, but give you some breathing room at the knee and below. A very good balance indeed.
Most yoga shorts are going to be a bit shorter, however, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You might prefer your shorts to only descend about halfway down your thigh, or maybe even shorter. This is where things get a bit tricky, and some yogis issue warnings.
Be aware that with these super-short styles, you might lose some grip on the mat or get too sweaty during demanding sessions. You also might be compromising a bit of performance or experience some unfortunate bunching when you need to be focused on balance and breathing.
It’s all a game of tradeoffs when it comes to yoga clothes, and shorts are no exception. We all have our cutoffs for when shorts are too short, so find your own limits of what’s comfortable and don’t be pressured into wearing anything you don’t like.
Fabrics and Features
We’ve talked all about fit so far, but we ought to mention materials to complete the conversation! Shorts come in all different types of fabrics, each with pros and cons.
All-cotton shorts are fine to wear while shopping or hanging with friends, but you’ll want some modern technology on your side when wearing yoga shorts.
Thankfully, most yoga shorts sold these days are made from top-tier synthetic fabric blends that include polyester, nylon, spandex, and maybe some quality cotton for extra softness. With these combinations, you get the best of all worlds.
The right amount of stretch, the moisture-wicking abilities, the lightweight comfort – it’s all there. Just make sure you read those labels before buying shorts, just as you would with any other type of yoga clothing.
Shop around, try a bunch of different fabrics, and see what feels best on your own skin. We’re all different, and there are endless options to choose from!
Let Us Build Your Wardrobe
Who thought that a subject like yoga shorts would be so involved? There’s much more that goes into it than you might think, and it can take some time to find the right pair of shorts for you.
That’s why we make it our mission to help people like you assemble a complete, balanced athletic wear wardrobe with a monthly subscription box program.
It’s not all about the leggings, after all! We’ll send you shorts that actually fit and feel great, as well as other garments to build your yoga wardrobe one outfit at a time. It’s affordable, fast, and so easy to get started. Just fill out this simple quiz and get started today.