You’ve finally done it. You’ve found the perfect pair of workout leggings with seams that don’t chafe: the holy grail of versatile athleisure aesthetics. Just as you turn to see how the snug fit complements your bum, your worst nightmare flashes across the paneled mirrors—your favorite pair of black workout leggings have deceived you in the form of see-through material! If this struggle sounds all too familiar, I’m here to help.
Searching for the perfect pair of workout leggings can often feel like a daunting task due to the number of options available. With various brands claiming to offer the best product, it can be hard to decipher which pair of pants will actually deliver during a legitimate sweat sesh like a 60-minute vinyasa flow.
Best Leggings for Yoga
Stress no more, my friends! I’ve taken the time to personally test five different pairs of popular workout leggings to determine which options are the best fit for your yoga practice. To help you save time and your hard-earned money, I put these workout leggings to the ultimate yogi challenge by attending one hot, one power, and two vinyasa yoga classes with each pair.
Following each class, I logged my insights on factors including breathability, comfort, the integrity of the waistband, athleisure applications, and the integrity of the material. Read on for my honest opinions regarding which pants you should consider adding to your yoga practice and which workout leggings are best left on the shelf.
C9 Freedom High Waist Leggings
I celebrate a budget-friendly legging as much as the next yogi, but unfortunately the C9 Freedom High Waist Leggings fell short. The lack of stretch was a key player in the leggings’ downfall due to their sheer material. If I can’t down dog without flashing my polka-dotted cheeky to the woman behind me, the item will certainly not be added to my closet.
Stranded in a town far from home without your favorite LBL (Little Black Leggings) and desperate for an easy yoga flow? This pair will get the job done in a pinch, without leaving a worrisome dent in your wallet.
While I may pick them up in the above scenario, they would live in my dresser drawers thereafter. Ultimately, the C9 legging doesn’t offer the stretch, tailoring, or technicality that many women (including myself) search for in the quest for the perfect pair of yoga leggings. The thin black material is prone to pilling and the extra seam of piping down the leg makes the legging a bit itchy and uncomfortable for everyday wear. By the end of a full flow, the legging’s shape and fit were noticeably looser on my body. Bottom line? This one is a pass.
Reminds me of: A traditional cotton legging—not necessarily a yoga-friendly pair
Athleta Meshblock Pocket Salutation Tight
Size XS—Available in Plus, Petite, and Tall Sizes
These leggings offer a goddess warrior squat-proof, naked-feeling fit! Athleta touts the Meshblock Pocket Salutation Tight’s “unpinchable” waistband and flatlock seams that minimize chafing. Thanks to a high rise that hits just below the belly button—and the heavenly soft matte material—flowing through a sun salutation in these yoga leggings unites the best of both comfort and style.
The strategically placed mesh blocks flatter and contribute to breathability, making these great go-to leggings for hot and power yoga flows (as long as they’re removed immediately after class).
These yoga leggings feature a waistband pocket that’s useful for non-clunky items like cards, cash, or a loose key. Walking into my local yoga studio, I was pleased to find that the side pockets easily accommodated my iPhone 6s during the quick commute. Once class began, it was clear that the Salutation Tight was made of a perfectly breathable material: The light, thin fabric ensured sweat wasn’t lingering in any curves or crevices during class, and I didn’t notice any visible sweat spots despite the heat.
The fit is very comfortable: no chafing or compression along the seams of these yoga pants (I didn’t even have lines or indentations after taking them off!). Athleta’s mesh is softer and far more flexible than what you’ll find in many other pairs.
Throughout my yoga flow, the high-rise waistband resisted rolling and folding. It lays flat and didn’t show through my lululemon Cool Racerback. All this plus minimal clinging, a hardly noticeable cameltoe, and no feeling of being held in (which means no compression—ladies, these will not hide cellulite) equates to maximum comfort. I’m happy to say the Salutation Tight is commando-friendly. All my queens rejoice!
As I mentioned, if you’re looking for cellulite-concealing compression, this won’t be your go-to pair of yoga pants. Also note that after class, the sweat I’d worked up left a noticeably moist feeling, and I needed to change into my breezy romper before heading out to my favorite coffee shop. These yoga leggings feature great breathability, but given the mild clamminess typical of a matte-finished workout legging after a sweaty class, they aren’t ideal for a quick transition from the studio to your next activity.
Reminds me of: The lululemon Align Pant
lululemon Align Pant
Size 2—Available in 19”, 21”, 25”, and 28” Lengths
It’s hard to find workout leggings as comfortable as the lululemon Align Pant. Movement during every variation of yoga was noticeably easier in this pant thanks to the “naked” material, which takes standing bow to a whole new level.
The fabric has a soft, matte feel, which makes these the perfect yoga pant to transition your look from a workout to a night out. Since these workout leggings don’t have any flashy features or a super sporty look, they’re perfect paired with just about any item in your closet, from a long cardigan sweater to booties and Old Skool Vans.
The lululemon Align Pant is similar to the Athleta Meshblock Pocket Salutation Tight in terms of moisture wicking and breathability. There is no feeling of thickness or super tight compression to these pants, and the shape holds well when worn as suggested. The waistband on these workout leggings is easily my favorite out of the various pairs I tested. It sits just above the belly button, slightly higher than the Athleta Meshblock Pocket Salutation Tight and lays completely flat with no rolling or adjusting needed.
Although these pants were airy and comfortable during hot yoga, the moisture was noticeable once the flow stopped. While the sweat spots weren’t visible, I would still recommend removing these pants shortly after a heated class since they are not entirely moisture-wicking. If you’re looking for a workout legging that can help disguise cellulite, the lack of compression in these pants may not be a feature you’re looking for.
Reminds me of: Dancing around in nothing but my underwear (or the Athleta Meshblock Pocket Salutation Tight)
Beyond Yoga High Waist Leggings
I’m a fan of high-waisted leggings, but the Beyond Yoga High Waist Leggings missed the mark a bit for me. Although these pants were tailored well to the calves and ankles, the fabric wasn’t very breathable and felt more like a traditional cotton legging. While these leggings are not ideal for a sweat session, they do pair well with everyday attire. With that being said, they don’t hold up well enough for regular wear. There were signs of pilling in just two short weeks.
These workout leggings had comfortable seams and didn’t chafe during my hot and vinyasa practices—or core circuits! The waistband hit at the belly button and stayed in place, only requiring one adjustment during my 60-minute yoga flow. These pants have decent compression, but no excessive squeezing that would limit breathing, moving, or eating.
Unfortunately, these workout leggings were not comfortable for hot yoga as I began feeling clammy and restricted as class continued. These pants also did not dry quickly after class. Overall, I would only recommend them for room temp flows. The fabric was slightly see-through, which made me feel a bit self-conscious during my practice. Unfortunately, this nagging distraction is the last thing you want during a centering movement meditation. In my opinion, these workout leggings were not worth the price tag.
Reminds me of: A traditional cotton legging
ZELLA Live In High Waist Leggings
ZELLA’s Live In High Waist Leggings are a well-tailored yoga pant option that’s crazy posture proof. (Hollow back handstands, here I come!) If you like thicker material and an extra long inseam on your yoga pants, this is a great pick. In fact, the legs were so long that at 5’4” I experienced a little scrunching around the ankle, which means the Live In Leggings will be perfect for tall and long-legged ladies.
The poly-spandex blend results in a matte, brushed-feeling material that’ll keep you comfy, especially in a cooler studio space (i.e., I’m not recommending this pair for hot yoga).
I got to to do some hip-opening, root chakra–grounding binds while sporting these leggings and was pleasantly surprised by their flexibility. No chafing and no cutting in, even as I was breathing through my flying lizard lunge! The Live In High Waist is true to its description, sitting just above the belly button. The leggings stayed in place throughout my yoga flow—no adjustments necessary. The crotch is also comfortable with or without underwear, which is great for poses like bird of paradise and happy baby. I would gladly wear these out and about, which means these yoga leggings stay true to their name.
Some will love the thickness and compression of the Live In Legging, but for those who break a serious sweat, a quick change after class (or a more moisture-wicking pair of leggings, like the Nike Pro HyperCool Training Tight) will be welcome since the material can feel a bit clammy. If you already love the ZELLA Live In Legging but are looking for something for hot yoga, opt for ZELLA’s Lightweight High Waist Midi Leggings or their High Waist Mesh Crop.
These yoga pants are prone to clinging and are likely to pill if not handled carefully. Also, if you’re petite and bothered by scrunching at the ankle or want yoga pants with a pocket that can hold more than a card, cash, or a loose key, opt for the Athleta Up For Anything ⅞ Tight.
Reminds me of: A long, warm hug