Warrior I. Child’s Pose. Downward Dog.
These are some phrases you might hear during a yoga class at your gym. But even if you think yoga is strictly for vegan hippies and not for you, its current popularity has spurred a huge growth in the clothing industry, and there’s one particular item of yoga clothing that I now refer to as the traveling woman’s secret weapon: yoga pants.
If you haven’t heard of yoga pants, they aren’t completely revolutionary. They’re very basic pants; the idea is that you can wear them as you contort yourself into various pretzel shapes while you do your yoga. They are always made of stretchy material, but unlike cheaper polyester, those designed specifically for yoga are often made of a poly/spandex blend that provides a better fit.
So what makes yoga pants such a great travel companion?
- There are no zippers to catch, buttons to pop, laces that can knot up. The typical pair of yoga pants will have an elastic waistband and nothing to catch or lose.
- Their sheer comfort means they’re great to wear on the plane; nothing binds, and the pants will not cut off the circulation in your legs.
- If you need to dress conservatively, you can wear yoga pants with a long shirt or straight-line “dress” so you aren’t showing bare legs.
- Many brands of yoga pants include a secret pocket to stash an ID, hotel key card, or key
- Most brands offer a standard model in black, which goes with any other color scheme you choose for your travel wardrobe
- Since yoga pants are designed for exercise, you can hit the gym or go on a nature walk in them, and leave your jogging or compression shorts at home.
- What makes this a true secret weapon: in classic black, they can look like a pair of slacks, so that you can wear it to a corporate setting! Just pair it with a business jacket and button-down shirt or blouse!
About the only down side is the price. Yoga pants tend to be priced higher, probably because it’s a niche market item, and because women who want to buy clothing marketed specifically for yoga are likely considered flush with money. For example, one brand famous for yogawear is Lululemon. Their popular Groove Pants are roughly $100 a pair, which is enough to induce sticker shock for a lot of folks. Lululemon does offer free hemming, but that’s little consolation if you don’t live near one of their retail shops (since they don’t offer their service via mail order). Even stores like REI, which offers yoga pants from various brands, maintain a price point of around $50 to $60 for a pair.
Regardless of whether you go with a famous brand of yogawear, keep a few things in mind:
- Make sure all the seams are double-stitched; that is, they need to be well-constructed so they can handle a lot of wear, and a lot of pulling and tugging. A $20 pair of “yoga pants” from Wal-Mart or Target might be enticing, but it will be cheaply made and may not last you as long as the more expensive brands. I realize that’s OK for some; just be aware of what you’re buying.
- Try them on before you buy them. If you have to order online, make sure the retailer has clear and reasonable exchange/return policies. The pants should fit well without being too loose around the waist or hips, or so tight that you get a “muffin top” look. Some models of yoga pants provide a loose waistband that you can fold over, which is far more forgiving.
- Make sure the hemline works for your height. If they are so long that they drag on the ground behind your heels while you’re wearing shoes, they’re too long for travel. There are many ways to remedy this (including stapling or taping the hems in a pinch), although some places offer hemming services.
- Do not confuse “leggings” with pants. “Yoga leggings” are designed to be tight down to your ankles. While they are great for yoga and exercise, they do not look like pants, and thus do not provide the versatility for travel.
If you’re looking for a comfortable pair of pants to fly in, lounge around in your hotel room in, work out in, and even go to your business meeting in, consider getting a pair of yoga pants.
I bought my yoga pants on Etsy – about the same price as a lulumon pair, but custom made to my measurements, and they have a big front pocket, which is very handy for squirreling away fruit from hotel breakfasts!