Yoga Pants: How Did They Become Popular?
Yoga might be a practice dating back literally thousands of years, but it’s only within the last three decades that it has truly skyrocketed as a worldwide phenomenon, particularly in the West.
Today, active, modern lifestyles have brought an effort towards wellness and balance into focus, but it’s the ancient tradition of yoga that offers one of the most popular means to that end.
So what about yoga pants, then? This fashion trend certainly isn’t as old as the practice itself, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any woman involved in yoga who doesn’t own at least one pair. In fact, most women who don’t do yoga still wear yoga pants in their daily lives.
We can trace many different reasons for this trend and much controversy along with it too. Today, we’re bringing you our Tasc Performance guide to yoga pants: how they become so popular, why, and what makes a great pair of yoga pants vs. a disappointing one.
Let’s jump right in:
Who Invented Yoga Pants?
Search the internet for this question, and you’re likely to find a mixed bag of answers. Unfortunately, the question isn’t entirely clear, mostly because of the similarities between yoga pants and leggings.
This similarity is centered around the material used. In 1958, a man named Joseph Shivers (an American chemist) invented a material that we now know as Spandex (then called Lycra). At that time and over the decades, Spandex would become popular for both men's and women’s attire, from workout pants to unusual fashion pieces.
However, strictly speaking, none of these styles were sold as yoga pants. You could absolutely do yoga in them if you wish, although they may not be ideal.
It wasn’t until the founding of Lululemon by Canadian businessman Chip Wilson that the idea of “yoga pants” we know today came to fruition.
Wilson was supposedly inspired by the tight pants worn by his yoga instructor, and with his new fashion company, a world of athleisure attire was ushered in.
How Did Yoga Pants Become Popular?
The secret to the popularity of yoga pants is really no secret at all. These best-sellers are incredibly comfortable, and they look good.
Comfort is the core of the yoga pant, so much so that, at one point in the early 21st century, yoga pants and leggings were driving denim jeans back into the Dark Ages.
As active lifestyles became more and more popular going into the 21st century, it became more and more common to have a body to be proud of. More importantly, with social media’s advent, showing off that body was now an everyday, every-person activity.
Yoga pants, like their close cousin the workout legging, are almost always form-fitting (at least above the knee). There’s little doubt that social media has had a huge hand in the popularity of these styles since it provides an easy way for wearers to show off their looks.
The Rise of Athleisure
So you keep hearing about athleisure, but what exactly is it, and why does everyone seem to be going crazy for it?
Athleisure has been a fashion trend for over two decades in the making, consistently topping charts and nowhere near dying out anytime soon.
The essence of athleisure is a balance between comfort and performance. As the name might imply, these styles combine qualities of athletic apparel and leisurewear.
Traditionally, activewear isn’t exactly the softest or most comfortable for lounging around or going out casually with friends. Likewise, traditional leisurewear is usually quite comfortable but not practical or appropriate for public outings or anything beyond relaxing at home.
The beauty of athleisure attire is making these qualities more accessible and versatile for everyday wear. Active lifestyles are particularly suited to athleisure since these clothes so easily go back and forth between exercise, outings, and lounging.
Unfortunately, athleisure has brought with it its fair share of problems, most notably in the realm of sustainability.
In fairness, sustainability has been an issue for fashion in all circles for quite some time. Even traditional cotton presents serious environmental issues in terms of water consumption, soil erosion, pollution, and more.
Synthetic fabrics, the most common material for athleisure apparel, have a whole slew of sustainability concerns on their own. Amongst waste and production pollutants, microplastics stand out as the most significant.
Thankfully, there are better alternatives in the modern age. Here at Tasc Performance, we’re proud to offer fabric blends using bamboo and organic cotton — environmentally friendly, practical fabrics that feel great and perform at the highest level.
What’s the Difference Between Yoga Pants and Leggings?
The story of yoga pants is sometimes muddied by the style’s similarity to leggings. In truth, they aren’t too far apart in some instances.
However, there are critical differences to identify that can make a big difference:
The most often cited difference between yoga pants and leggings is the material used. Traditionally, yoga pants have always used activewear performance materials, while many leggings use mostly cotton or similar materials that aren’t performance-oriented.
Today, however, we do things differently here at Tasc Performance. Our yoga pants and leggings all use materials with exceptional performance qualities. We believe versatile fashion is the way forward: our ALLways Pocket Leggings being a perfect example.
Uses Beyond Yoga
It comes as no surprise that yoga pants are made for yoga. That purpose extends not only through the practical elements built into the design of these pants but also the social expectations for wearing them.
It is becoming more and more acceptable in modern times to wear yoga pants outside of the studio in everyday situations, but leggings still hold the crown when it comes to situational versatility. Some workplaces even allow leggings as work attire on Fridays!
In practical terms, yoga pants are specifically designed for yoga practice. Not all leggings have the performance features you need for even this low-impact exercise. However, at Tasc Performance, we build our pants without these restrictions.
Finally, we find the most outwardly apparent difference in style. Leggings are always fitted from top to bottom, while yoga pants can vary in construction. The most common yoga pant look is a high-rise band, fitted above the knee but flared at the ankles, as seen in our ALLways Pocket Yoga Pant.
Some yoga pants are fitted all the way through the leg, but some argue this excludes them from being a true yoga pant — merely leggings in disguise.
We’ll leave that for you to decide. As long as the pants have the practical, performance qualities to hold up to any yoga session, they can qualify as yoga pants in our book.
What Should I Look for in a Yoga Pant?
We’re all caught up on yoga pants, but the question remains: which makes qualities make the best yoga pants?
Let’s talk about the essential qualities to keep in mind when picking your next pair of yoga pants.
Anyone who knows yoga knows that you’re going to need flexibility. Of course, much of the practice is about improving your flexibility over time. Still, you won’t be able to achieve any amount of flexibility with a rigid fabric that limits your range of movement.
This is where stretch fabric capabilities come into play. Always look for flexible construction in your yoga pants, but be sure that this quality isn’t coming at the expense of the environment, as it may with most polyester clothes.
Breathing is a core concept in yoga, so your clothes might as well get in on the action too! With a breathable fabric, air can flow through your clothes while the heat from your body flows out. This is vital to your body’s thermoregulatory processes.
Thermoregulation is how your body keeps itself at a balanced temperature. The beauty of yoga is in the balance it brings. Enhancing that balance through your attire can only heighten the effects of any session.
It would be understandable to worry that breathability is mutually exclusive to warmth. Have no fear: Breathable fabrics aren’t necessarily going to leave you cold.
If you're worried about your studio’s AC or the weather on a cool spring morning, rest assured that breathable material will still let your body keep itself warm as normal. It simply won’t inhibit your natural processes.
Even if a new pose challenges you out of your usual comfort zone, the last thing you need is for your clothing to cause discomfort and distraction.
A fabric with a soft, buttery touch is just the start. Details such as seam placement or the cut of your clothes can make a big difference in how you feel, especially as different poses place pressure on different areas of your body.
Yoga pants, be they capris or wide legs, should be as comfortable as a second skin so that nothing gets in the way of you, your yoga mat, and your practice.
Back to thermoregulation: a key part of the process is keeping your body dry. Sweat is a positive natural mechanism for keeping you cool, but clothing that traps all that sweat on your body will quickly counteract the process. Trapped sweat leads to overheating and general discomfort.
With moisture-wicking fabric, sweat is drawn from your body and released to evaporate into the air.
Wholeness is a concept that extends beyond your individual yoga practice. The wholeness and wellness of the world are crucial to the yoga lifestyle; you don’t need an ancient yogi from India to tell you that much.
Using sustainable materials is a significant way you can contribute to this end. Organic cotton is one material we use here at Tasc Performance to help.
The star of the show, however, is our bamboo fabric. Supremely sustainable and packed with every practical feature on the essentials list (and some extras), bamboo is truly a powerhouse to be reckoned with.
Combined with the fact that we don’t use chemical treatments and partner with sustainable producers, you can trust that all of our offerings boost global sustainability efforts.
What Can I Wear With Yoga Pants?
There’s no doubt that yoga pants make a great addition to your wardrobe, but you may be wondering what kind of outfits go well with them.
Let’s look at some popular options:
Sports bras are a leading style in the athleisure trend. With the right material and fit, a sports bra provides an ultimate range of movement and maximum comfort with minimal coverage.
A sports bra is an excellent option for outdoor yoga, especially whether you’re looking to soak up a little sun (with sunscreen, of course) or just to feel the air on your skin.
Our ALLways Sports Bra is an easy choice for your sports bra essential. Our Rhythm Sports Bra with reinforced crisscross straps is also a fantastic choice for low impact support and a super cute style. Besides women’s yoga pants, sports bras pair particularly well with straight-leg joggers.
Rivaling sports bras for the crown of yoga tops is the tank. Tanks are exceptionally versatile, as they’re acceptable in a wider range of social situations and can often work well in spring or fall when a sports bra might not be a good match for cold weather.
Our ALLways Tank is a trendy crop-length tank with a super soft feel like a leisure tank but performance qualities to rival any activewear top. Pick it up in a few different colors for a diverse wardrobe, or try our NOLA Tank for a full-length alternative with even more color options.
Pair this with capri leggings for sunny days or drawstring sweatpants to ward off the morning chill.
T-shirts are arguably the most versatile top, easy to insert into just about any outfit across a range of occasions. T-shirts are popular in yoga, too. Something about the perfect simplicity synergizes so well with the practice.
Try our NOLA V-Neck T-Shirt for a cute look that guarantees a full range of movement and optimal comfort.
Our Recess Fitness T-Shirt is another option that’s ready to move into some heavier impact exercises after your session or on the weekend.
Layering options can be invaluable to your yoga wardrobe. Whether you need a little extra warmth on the commute or some cozy feels to guard against the studio’s AC, a sweatshirt is a smart addition to bring along.
Our Varsity Sweatshirt should do the trick perfectly. For brisk winter days, high-waisted jogger pants will be your best friend. For days when you just need a little support during warm-up, try midi yoga pants or even a pair of bike shorts.
For Style and Sustainability That Aligns
With our guide to yoga pants wrapped up, you should be all set to pick the perfect pair and assemble some awesome outfits for your next yoga sessions.
Stay tuned to our Tasc Performance blog for all things activewear and more!