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Yoga Pants vs. Leggings: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to buying sportswear, the process can be a joy. Who doesn’t love picking bright, pretty, colorful new clothes associated with the feel-good rush of exercising? However, it’s a bit trickier if you don’t know what you’re doing, and that can lead to a lot of frustration if you purchase the wrong thing. Been there, done that.

If you’re looking to overhaul your gym wardrobe, you might think leggings are a better option than yoga pants. They come in more colors and designs, and they’re often a good bit cheaper – so why not go for those instead?

Leggings and yoga pants are quite similar in many ways, and a lot of people use the terms interchangeably. However, there are a few differences since the items are really intended for different purposes.

Learning more about each type before you buy anything can help make sure your purchase the right one.

You may already be aware of some of the benefits yoga pants have over leggings, such as stretch, moisture-wicking, durability, and compression.

Let’s get into a bit more detail so you can make the best picks for your activewear needs.

Main Advantages of Leggings

Many of us love leggings as a staple of our everyday wardrobe. They offer comfort, a cute look, and very flexible aesthetics when paired with dresses, long shirts, tunics, skirts, or even t-shirts.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of leggings is their cost. Leggings are an inexpensive, comfortable item of clothing you can often buy in packs. You can find them in an enormous array of colors and styles, making them ideal for brightening up your wardrobe and adding an element of versatility.

Of course, that attractive price point is due to thinner and cheaper materials, so leggings tend not to be great for intense exercise. If you regularly work out in your leggings, you’ll notice them deteriorating fast.

Still, leggings are very comfortable and for everyday wear, even under slacks or jeans. You might not even be able to count how many pairs you have – most women have a huge collection of all types!

Think of leggings as a slight upgrade from tights or sheer stockings. They were originally intended for layering as they are light enough to be worn under your pants, but still warmer than tights.

A complete wardrobe has every type of undergarment, so make sure you have a full array.

Main Advantages of Yoga Pants

Yoga pants, as the name suggests, are made to be equally soft and flexible, specifically designed to be worn during sports. That means you might notice some significant differences.

You might think your favorite pair of leggings are modest enough, but if you’ve ever tried to do squats under bright gym lights, you might start to reconsider. They are often too thin, while yoga pants are designed for more coverage and concealment.

Yoga pants are also more durable and designed to last. Their waistbands won’t fold or slip when you’re moving around, as leggings waistbands tend to do. They may cost more, however, because the materials are frequently higher quality and double-layered.

Feature Spotlight: Moisture-Wicking Abilities


Have you noticed a damp feeling if you heat up while wearing leggings? On the whole, leggings aren’t moisture-wicking, so any sweat will hang around and make you uncomfortable rather quickly.

There may be some types of leggings that are moisture-wicking – usually polyester - but this is certainly not a standard and rarely by design. Odors also tend to cling to polyester, so it’s better to choose a blended fabric than pure polyester.

If you are going to do workouts in your leggings, moisture-wicking ones may prove more comfortable. They still suffer from some of the other issues leggings have, so use them sparingly or only when there are no other options available.

Be sure to read those labels to know what you’re getting into beforehand.

Yoga Pants

Not all yoga pants are moisture-wicking, but those that feature this technology offer an especially comfortable and pleasant workout. Nobody wants damp fabric clinging to the legs when you’re trying to stretch and move in sync with your class.

Many pairs of yoga pants are designed to pull sweat away from the body and help regulate your temperature. This is ideal if you’re doing hard workouts or taking on a hot yoga class. The pants can actually make you more comfortable and help you keep the workout up for longer. They’re often even better than shorts because you’ll tend not to slip and slide.

Yoga pants are also more breathable than leggings. When examining labels and material blends, look for stuff like spandex, nylon, a bit of poly, and maybe even some quality cotton for temperature regulation.

Every blend is unique, and they each have a specific intention.

The fabric is performance-based, and manufacturers know that it’s necessary to have light, breathable, wicking materials to ensure maximum comfort.

None of these considerations are taken when designing standard leggings.

Superior Range of Motion


Leggings offer a lot of freedom and flexibility. By design, they are soft, comfortable, and conform to the shape of your body. That means they do seem like suitable exercise gear, allowing you to move freely and perform various different poses.

However, bear in mind that leggings aren’t designed for workouts, which means that flexibility is all they offer. They aren’t particularly good at holding their shape and may cling uncomfortably or pull in the wrong direction while you’re exercising. If you’ve ever found them slipping down when you stretch for something, that’s why.

Leggings also often only stretch properly in one direction, as they are meant to be comfortable, rather than to allow maximum movement. You might find that if you try and pull your leggings in the wrong direction, they warp and stretch instead of springing back into shape.

Yoga Pants

Yoga pants are also close-fitting, but the manufacturers have chosen their fit and material with sport in mind. Many are cleverly made with four-way stretch, increasing your movement range and reducing strain on the material itself. This is important because even in more relaxed forms of yoga, like restorative yoga, you’re going to be stretching quite a bit. 

There are a number of unique factors in terms of fit. Many yoga pants have double-layered waistbands to prevent them from slipping as you stretch and turn. This makes them more comfortable to exercise in - you won’t have to keep adjusting at inopportune times.

You can also buy high-waisted yoga pants, which will cover your lower abdomen and further reduce any slipping. These are ideal for high-movement sports such as running and will be more comfortable to wear.

Yoga pants also commonly have gusseted crotches, which leggings don’t. This might seem a minor difference, but it gives you a wider range of movement, especially if you’re trying to do the splits. We would definitely not recommend doing so in standard leggings - they are likely to tear, which could be embarrassing!

Some yoga pants are looser than leggings, though skin-tight options are often the most popular. They come in a range of shapes and cuts, with flared bottoms or more relaxed fits.

Harem pants and hippie pants are also often classed as yoga pants, so you really do have all the choice here - you can achieve any look that inspires confidence and comfort!

Durability and Longevity


Leggings might be fantastic for everyday wear, but they aren’t meant to withstand the constant battering that they’ll take if you wear them to the gym or studio constantly.

This is particularly true of cheap leggings, so if you’re looking to expand your wardrobe on a budget, be aware you probably aren’t going to be exercising in your new gear.

While leggings might feel the same as yoga pants, if you look closely, you’ll see that the material tends to be very thin - and often fairly low quality because of its low price point.

Subject it to the stresses of being stretched, chafed, and then repeatedly washed, and you’ll soon find your favorite leggings aren’t looking so good. Wear them well but treat them with care to make them last!

Yoga Pants

Because they’re designed for sporty activities, yoga pants are almost always more durable than leggings. They do, of course, hit a higher price point because of that, but the cost is worth it.

If you’re going to keeping wearing your leggings out with exercise and outdoor activities, you’re going to end up spending a lot even if they seem cheap individually.

Yoga pants often have a double layer of material at points of high stress, minimizing the strain on the fabric and increasing their longevity as well.


The process of choosing new activewear can be a pain, and it may be something you want to outsource to the experts to make sure you’re getting exactly what you need.

Gym clothes can be expensive, so you don’t want to spend money on the wrong thing! That’s why a service like Yoga Club is truly the most efficient and cost-effective way to build a wardrobe of great tops, pants, and more.

The process is simple. Fill out a quick quiz and some other info, and we send monthly outfits to keep your gym wardrobe fresh, fun, and exactly tailored to your exercise needs.

What better way to keep yourself engaged and excited by your exercise routine than a few fun additions every month?

These boxes take the hard work out of choosing gym clothes and make your exercise routines the best they can be. We focus on doing the sourcing, research, and buying decisions so you can focus on staying fit and healthy every day of the week.



7 Ways Exercise Makes You Happy and Improves Mood | Insider 

Hot Yoga 101: What to Expect, The Benefits, and More  | Byrdie

Restorative Yoga: What It Is, Benefits, and Poses | Verywell Fit

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