The Great Yoga Leggings Debate


I remember when I first began to wear yoga leggings. It was around 2004 when I started Bikram Yoga, and one of the teachers there sold a line of yoga clothing.

Those were my first leggings outside of the 90’s era of long tunics and colorful stretchy pants. The first ones that were tight enough to see every curve, and worn not with long tops, but sports bras and short tanks.

That day I felt scandalous in them, especially out in public!

Nowadays, as a middle-aged mama of 2, I wear them even to the grocery store. And I know I am not alone!

In the past, I’ve gotten mixed reactions from people. Once, a cashier asked me if I even did yoga to merit yoga pants at the mall. It just so happened that at the time, I was a yoga instructor at a local tech company. But it begged the question: is it inappropriate to wear leggings out in the world?

The Yoga Leggings Controversy

These days, I don’t practice yoga anymore, so why wear leggings? Why do so many of us wear them?

Interestingly, an episode titled “Athleisure” from the Netflix Original explained delves into this very topic.

And it appears it is because we place a high value — especially if it can also look fashionable — on comfort. And leggings are so comfortable!

My personal reasons include: No need to stuff jeans into boots. Or to stretch jeans out to fit each leg through because they just got washed. There is at least a 3lb wiggle room for wear. Sweat-wicking textiles are used for most good yoga leggings, which avoid embarrassing sweat marks on chairs…

Also: no unnecessary roughness. High-quality leggings, even after several washes, remain smooth, buttery, and slimming.

Up until just this past year, the legging drama was intense in some women’s church groups. The question was: what to do about the youth that wear leggings to services?

A few months ago, a dear friend who sells Zyia modeled a pair of leggings on her Instagram stories. As she turned around, she mentioned that yes, you can see some dimples, but what’s the big deal, she loves herself.

I could imagine the drama that had to play out between the trained voice of society and her inner voice. On the one hand, a society with an unattainable ideal for beauty that scorns body dimples. On the other, her personal truth that she still looks beautiful (which is an absolute truth!).

I see all kinds of fashion faux pas everyday. Why get bent up about leggings?

I think it’s because when it comes to the female form, in this culture, and in my age demographic, we were trained to cover or criticize it.

Which is why I choose the comfort and fashion of leggings, and no longer judge anyone who does the same – curvy, slim, dimples or none.

What is your take on yoga leggings? Do you consider them inappropriate outside the gym or the yoga studio? Do you wear them? What, if any, are your favorite brands or ways to style them?


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