Sometimes life's biggest questions just stump me. There are times when I just can't find an easy answer. Occam's Razor grows dull. Questions tickle my brain as I lie awake at 3AM and the answers evade me as much as sleep does. No matter how much I search for the truth, no one can provide the definitive answer I seek.
What exactly are "yoga pants"?
I started doing yoga about 22 years ago. Yoga was just becoming trendy at the time and I started out with books and videos until my gym began offering a single weekly class. You know what I wore? I wore the same clothes I wore for my other workouts, minus the sneakers. I wore leggings and bike shorts and sweat pants. In those days yoga had no specific uniform. Most yoga classes were taught by the old-time gurus who, if female (and in those days they were all female), wore mostly the leotards and footless tights of an earlier era, or else just wore ordinary shorts and t-shirts.
Now yoga has become a multi-million dollar industry. The soft-bellied, middle-aged, women who used to stand in front of my classes have been replaced by young, taut, and tattooed gym rats and personal trainers looking for some esoteric state of enlightenment (or just hoping to cash in on a fad). I used to think of yoga as a fairly egalitarian exercise meant for all body types, all ages, and all economic levels. Now yoga is an activity favored by rich white women who pay hundreds of dollars for classes in high end studios.
Yoga now also has it own uniform.
Go into any sports supply store and the fitness area will have all kinds of specialty yoga clothes. They differ from your regular workout gear in two ways. The first is that they are decorated with trippy artwork that may or may not have some kind of special Hindu meaning. The second is that they are making a statement about the body types expected to be seen in yoga. Yoga tops tend to be wispy little tanks with no backs and thin straps. Any woman with significant boobage up top or a belly she would rather not expose is not meant for chic yoga wear.
But what exactly is the point of the pants?
I keep hearing and reading about "yoga pants". What makes yoga pants, yoga pants? I tried Googling yoga pants recently and I came up with photos of all different types of pants. I saw bike shorts and long leggings and capri leggings. I saw looser fitting workout pants. I could not see any indication of what defines yoga pants. How do yoga pants differ from workout pants, training pants, leggings, capris, capri leggings, bike shorts, and jazz pants (I suppose traditional jazz pants have a more extreme flare in the lower leg)?
I suppose the answer could be your yoga pants are the pants you wear specifically to do yoga in. I'm not going to easily accept that answer because the joke seems to be that women like to wear their yoga pants for anything but yoga. It seems irrelevant if you go to yoga class and wear all of the new, expensive, trendy gear. You're not going to yoga class. You're just going to be comfortable.
Is that where the phrase "yoga pants" comes from? The idea of putting on comfortable, stretchy pants means that you can relax as much as you would doing a corpse pose in yoga class.
I confess I haven't been going to yoga classes much in recent years. I enjoy doing yoga stretches as part of my regular routines, but my body recomp goals require me to focus more of my energy on more intense forms of exercise. I do enjoy the occasional yoga class when I have the time though. When I go I will put on a pair of leggings, or maybe a pair of looser fitting workout pants, or shorts or capris if it's warm out. I will wear a regular t-shirt that actually covers my upper body. I won't be wearing yoga pants, because I still don't know what they are. That's okay because I don't think I'm supposed to wear yoga pants to do yoga.