Yeah, we’ll go there—er, down there—because yoga wear must be not only fun but functional. And let’s face it, a wedgie in Wide-Legged Forward Bend is literally a pain in the butt. That’s one of the reasons women’s underwear brand Dear Kate will debut commando-friendly yoga pants in October.
According to the company’s market research, only 17 percent of women go commando in yoga pants—but Dear Kate says so many more could and should. “Most women assume that everyone either does it or doesn’t do it,” says founder Julie Sygiel. "And there are strong opinions on both sides." So let’s carefully consider the pros and cons of going bare-asana.
Pros of Not Wearing Underwear for Yoga
- Wedgie elimination. It’s worth repeating, because bunching, scrunching, and pulling in inconvenient places can really do a number on your dharana.
- VPL prevention. Do you pay top dollar for those pants to show off an unflattering panty line?
- Lady-part health. Unbreathable underthings paired with tight tights can lead to yeast infections, while panty-line-friendly thongs can result in UTIs. Going without can sometimes be a safer bet.
- Freedom. “I personally feel a sense of freedom that’s probably more psychological than physical, but it makes a huge difference for me to feel less constrained in my yoga practice,” Sygiel says. In other words, it's just liberating to have less between you and your lunges.
Cons of Going Commando in Yoga Pants
- Scanty coverage. Think panty lines are unsightly? Consider the alternative. “I don’t mean to be indelicate,” says Sadie Nardini, yoga teacher and star of the reality show Rock Your Yoga. “But by the end of class, I have seen one of the following things that are not in my job description: scrotum, pubic hair, vagina, crack. This, my friends, does not for a Zen experience make.”
- Moisture mismanagement.“I have gone commando, but honestly not in years,” says Kathryn Budig, international yoga teacher and YJ’s #FindYourInspiration blogger. “I like the extra ‘wicking’...Geez, awkward!”
- Camel toe. You may be able to prevent the classic wedgie by going without, but that leaves you vulnerable to one on the flip side. “Sixty-six percent of the women we asked listed camel toe as a pet peeve of their current yoga pants,” Sygiel says.
- Loads of laundry. “If you’re not getting super sweaty, you can wear the same pair of pants multiple times before washing,” Sygiel says of panty-wearers.
Dear Kate’s pants promise to eliminate all of the risks of going commando with extra-wicking fabric, trustworthy coverage, and a camel-toe-free design. We tried them, and they do deliver. But most of our favorite yoga brands (including lululemon, who told us they’re “100 percent confident in the level of coverage” they offer) will assure you their pants can also be worn with or without underthings. So what’s a minimalist—yet modest—yogi to do?
First, assess the commando capacity of your current pants. Here’s a smart strategy: (1) Put on some patterned panties; (2) Try on your yoga pants; (3) Practice a few exposing asanas in front of a mirror, cameraphone, or significant other to gauge opacity. “A rear view check in the mirror is not nearly enough to show you what will happen in Down Dog, Forward Fold, or my all-time fave, Happy Baby,” Nardini says.
If your pants don’t pass the test, play it safe with a pair of yoga-friendly underwear. Here are a few to try: