I got a Facebook message before Thanksgiving: “Do you happen to have a favorite yoga short brand/model? Not finding running or basketball shorts working well.” It was tempting to respond with something high-handed about male body image and Western notions of “comfort.” I also really wanted to make a joke about how T. Krishnamacharya, the progenitor of modern hatha yoga, was often photographed doing asana in what appears to be an extra-wide diaper. But then I thought about it and realized that when it comes to yoga shorts I do, in fact, have a favorite brand/model.
Until the query, I didn’t even think of my yoga shorts as a “brand,” unless that brand was called “my yoga shorts.” But about an hour ago as I write this, I looked at the tag on the shorts for the first time. It reads “72K.” I did a Google search on 72K. Sure enough, it’s a yoga-clothing manufacturer for men, and it gets my highest recommendation. Yoga philosophy tells you not to get attached to objects of pleasure. But I’m guessing Patanjali never wore my yoga shorts.
I’ve had my yoga shorts for almost five years. They represent everything I like in my athletic wear, not that I own a ton of athletic wear. My wife gave them to me as a birthday present. She doesn’t remember how much she paid, but she guesses they “weren’t cheap, probably about 40 bucks.” That seems like a lot for a pair of glorified gym pants, and it is, but they still feel new, even after hundreds of washings. Primarily, when I’m doing yoga, I look for comfort and durability. You don’t want material flopping around. Good yoga clothes are like a second skin. They have to flow with you, which sounds corny, but it’s better to sound corny than to have excess material bunching up in all the wrong places.
My favorite shorts are perfectly elastic, comfortable but not too floppy, and super-absorbent. They end mid-thigh, as opposed to most men’s yoga wear, which either sags down to the knees or cuts off way too early, Speedo-like. Their bathing-suit-style liner guards my sensitive bits like a rich person’s jewel box. The shorts’ only flaw is that they’re slate gray and therefore have a habit of hiding in laundry baskets or at the bottoms of drawers. At least once a month, I find myself saying, “Honey, have you seen my yoga shorts?” My wife replies, “I will never buy you gray yoga shorts again.” We’ve been married a while.
On the occasions I can’t find my yoga shorts or have to wash them because they’ve started smelling like Krishnamacharya’s diaper, I’m forced to go with my substitute shorts, a standard black athletic pair that I got at Target for $10. They’ve held up, admittedly, but they’re a little itchy and sometimes get caught in my butt crack. I wear them as seldom as possible. The 72K shorts, on the other hand, don’t flop around like basketball shorts do, and don’t over-hug like runner’s shorts.
(Note to the mysterious 72K company: Yoga Journal didn’t force me to sign an ethics statement to accompany this blog. Or maybe they did, but I didn’t read it. Regardless, I’m now accepting 72K swag for “review.” I could use an extra pair of yoga shorts. My cheap substitutes sometimes chafe my thighs.)
(Note from Neal's editor: Gifts are not accepted for product mentions. That's why we pay him the big bucks, so he can go buy his own damn shorts.)
Neal Pollack is the author of Downward-Facing Death, a serialized Kindle yoga murder mystery, the memoir Stretch: The Unlikely Making Of A Yoga Dude, and the self-published novel Jewball. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and son. You can find out more about him at nealpollack.com or follow him on Twitter.