Workout gear for men can be a very particular thing — workout gear for yogis can be a battleground. Some guys want “loose and airy” while others want “form-fitting and stretchy.” There are those who swear by the latest antimicrobial, moisture-wicking fabrics, while others insist on plain organic cotton. Whatever your preference may be, get clothes specifically designed for yoga. “Many [men] opt for traditional gym clothes,” says Alex Lamb, Director of Operations at Modo Yoga NYC. “I often find that about halfway through the class they’re regretting it.” Regular gym clothes work in a pinch, but they aren’t always built to accommodate the full range of motion some yoga poses require — you don’t want to be worried about exposing upper thigh or belly while mid-pose. “It’s less distracting when you have the right gear,” says Lamb, “so you can really focus on your body and breath.” We spoke with eleven experts (including nine male yogis) who told us all about their favorite yoga-ready shorts, pants, and tops.
Best yoga tops
Lamb’s studio focuses on hot yoga, so he always recommends high-tech fabrics. “Sweat-wicking is key,” he says, because after about 15 minutes of hot yoga “that cotton T-shirt is going to be glued to your skin.” He really likes the tanks from a Canadian brand called Ryu. “Their tanks are comfortable and fit in such a great way; somehow they stay put no matter what position you’re in without feeling like you’re wearing a compression garment.”
Yoga instructor Ben Wisch wears this Lululemon tank when he gives classes. The moisture-wicking material and mesh ventilation make it super breathable.
Sometimes a simple cotton tank top is perfect, says yoga instructor James Fideler. The organic material breathes well, and the cut is optimal because it allows full freedom of movement and “doesn’t bind around the shoulders and armpits.”
Dean Pohlman, founder of Man Flow Yoga and author of Yoga Fitness for Men told us this high-tech T-shirt from Rhone is his favorite. “[It’s] super comfortable and soft, doesn’t bunch at all when doing yoga, and is very form-fitting,” he says. He even wears it casually with jeans sometimes.
For a simple option that’s easier on the budget, you can look to the Uniqlo AIRism line. Yuuki Hirano, manager and founder of Dou Yoga in Brookyn, says this T-shirt is great for yoga because the material is thin, breathable, comfortable, and “dries really quickly.”
A lot of the recommended yoga gear leans towards the monochromatic, so this T-shirt is a great way to mix things up a little. Chandrika Shrobe, instructor at Integral Yoga and buyer for the studio’s shop, likes that it’s made from a natural blend of hemp and organic cotton, and she appreciates the meaning behind the design. “[It] features the root chakra, symbolizing stability and a sense of feeling grounded.”
Best yoga shorts
Whether you wear pants or shorts is a personal choice — both have their merits — but a lot of men told us they feel they can move more freely in shorts. One thing almost everyone agreed on is you should look for shorts with a built-in liner. Doing a handstand is hard enough without worrying about unintentionally flashing your yoga class. Yoga instructor Brian Nygard recommends these shorts from Yoga Crows. “They have a nice antimicrobial fabric that feels like soft terry cloth,” he says, and the liner “doesn’t catch with movement,” which can sometimes be a problem with other shorts.
Pohlman mentioned the Rhone shirt and he also loves these lined shorts from the company. They’re made from a nice lightweight material, the length is just right (they’re short, “but not unnecessarily short”), and they come in great color options. They’re good for more than just yoga, too. “[You] can use them for any kind of workout and not worry about bunching or movement restriction.” (Rhone also happens to make Strategist deputy editor Jason Chen’s favorite running shorts.)
“I have these in every color,” says Lamb. “They don’t have a lining, which might be a deterrent for some, but I find that they’re cut in a way that I feel confident I won’t have any wardrobe malfunctions and still have plenty of room for movement.” (If you’d prefer not to go commando, Lamb recommends this breathable, moisture-wicking support brief from Manduka).
“These are great if you’re getting into more advanced postures,” says Lamb. “Often with traditional workout gear, you’ll encounter resistance in the leg-opening area during moments when you need a lot of give … The compression shorts allow for that necessary range of movement, while also providing containment and comfort.” You can wear them on their own, or as “underwear” under shorts or pants.
Best yoga pants
Go to any yoga studio or gym in New York City and you’re likely to see a lot of Outdoor Voices gear. The culty brand came up a lot during our discussions, and these are one of their best-sellers. Lodro Rinzler, co-founder of MNDFL Meditation Studio in NYC, is a big fan: “I’m not a sweatpants person, period. Yet they are stylish enough that I feel zero embarrassment leaving home in them, right alongside the fact that they are comfortable enough that I can move freely in them for yoga, running, anything really.”
“I recommend to our male yogis that their clothing be loose and comfortable,” says Shrobe. Shrobe likes these hemp yoga pants because they’re lightweight, breathable, and easy to move in. She also appreciates the brand’s values. “Everything in Soulflower’s line is eco-friendly, organic, and ethically made from recycled fabrics out of love for our planet. Plus, it’s all made in the U.S.A.”
Lamb prefers yoga gear to be more form-fitting. “In my experience,” he says, “the less fabric and the closer the fit, the less you’ll be distracted by adjusting your clothes during class.” Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference, but if you want pants that are more “fitted,” Lamb thinks these leggings are a great option: “It feels almost like wearing nothing, but it’s still supportive.” Plus, he adds, “they’re cut in a really flattering way,” and you can wear them under shorts or on their own.
Nygard has four pairs of these yoga pants, which he says are “seriously some of the most comfortable and fitted things out there.” Between teaching classes in studios and going to clients’ homes for privates lessons, Nygard runs around a lot. “Clothes that have multiple purposes and cut down on what I have to carry are essential,” says Nygard. He likes that these are built for moving and stretching, have subtle branding, and look good enough to wear around the city.
“I wear organic cotton unisex yoga pants,” says Fideler. “They tie at the waist and are loose-fitting and comfortable by design.” He prefers baggier yoga pants because they don’t limit his range of motion, and he advises seeking out a natural fiber such as cotton because it’s breathable and won’t irritate the skin. Fideler buys his pants from an Indian clothing and textile store in the East Village called Dress Shoppe II. You can try calling them to order a pair, but otherwise he says this pair is very similar and you can buy it online.
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