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I’m 23, fairly mobile, and injury-free. So no, I (luckily) don’t experience a lot of knee pain in my day-to-day activities. However, there’s a definite sensation in my knees that I encounter each time I move into Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) or Bitilasana (Cow Pose). It’s subtle yet definitely noticeably and I guess the best way to describe it would be somewhere between a twinge and pain.
Practicing on a thicker mat often eliminates the bothersome feeling, and I’d never considered that it could be addressed by something other than a foundational change in how I practice yoga—namely, avoiding being on my knees. Until I came across the new Maät 1.0 Leggings ($148).
Designed by Fiona Devaney, a yoga teacher, the innovative leggings come with padding in the knee area, eliminating the need for a towel or blanket tucked beneath you. After experiencing this type of protection for her joints from a wetsuit, Devaney sought to recreate the same type of product for her yoga practice. Instead of adding protection throughout the entire leg, the design tapers the polyester and spandex padding around your knee area, mimicking a ribbed, grunge-inspired legging. No one can tell that there’s an extra layer of support around your strained joints. Seriously.
Even with these design-based benefits, I remained skeptical that I would notice a difference between these leggings and my typical non-padded pairs. When I slipped the pants on, I felt snug and secure, the oh-it’s-good-suction-feeling you only experience with a quality pair of leggings. I liked the look of the bottoms, too. They felt reminiscent of the moto-chic trend of years ago that appears to be making a return this fall. And, to be honest, I just felt cool. However, I wanted to test out the thickness of the Supplex and Spandex material, opting to head to a hot yoga class versus a non-heated studio. Overheating in a heavy pant in high temperatures wasn’t something I was looking to add to my practice.
I didn’t notice much about the leggings in the first few minutes of class. However, I did immediately feel a difference when I moved into my first Cat-Cow. Instead of noticing the uncomfortable contact of my joints with the thin mat, I felt a thick layer of cushioning and support under my knees. In the absence of joint pain, I turned my attention to my upper body instead, tapping in to the subtle movements of the posture. This shift was also helped by the pants’ high-waisted, secure band, which eliminated the need to yank up my bottoms after every pose.
While my face, arms, and, well, my entire body were dripping with sweat by the end of the practice, I didn’t feel a buildup of constrained heat in my legs. Ultimately, they felt like a good balance between the lightweight leggings I need in a hot class and the thicker compression pants that keep everything in place.
After testing them out, the functional—and stylist—elements of these leggings are impressive. While I don’t experience frequent knee pain, these will be first on my list to recommend the next time one of my friends complains of their joint aches—or of fussing with extra towels and blankets in the studio.