What is the Difference Between Yoga Pants vs Leggings?

Yoga pants vs leggings – what's your preference?

While a lot of people use the terms interchangeably, there are some significant differences when it comes to yoga pant vs leggings.

Leggings fit snugly and are made of stretchy material, usually a blend of cotton or polyester with something like lycra or nylon added for stretchiness.

Leggings were originally meant to be worn as activewear but they’ve taken on new life recently. Today, they’re worn just about anywhere and frequently paired with boots, oversized sweatshirts, or comfy tees.

Yoga pants are typically softer and thicker than leggings, though they’re made of the same type of material. They’re designed specifically for yoga and other activities like aerobics, pilates, or dance. Many women also use them as they would a pair of leggings and wear them with tees, jackets, and sneakers for everyday wear.

We know it sounds like there is nothing but similarities when it comes to yoga pants vs leggings but let’s take a closer look to understand just how these two pairs of comfy pants differ.

Some Leggings Are Yoga Pants but Not All Yoga Pants Are Leggings

Tight yoga pants or leggings are often used for yoga, but there are a lot of different styles of yoga pants out there. Some go all the way to the ankles or longer while others stop at or below the knee. Something they all have in common is they were all designed specifically for yoga.

That means they are thicker than most leggings with a wide waistband to hold them in place and provide support while moving between yoga poses.

While leggings are one of the most popular types of yoga pants, there are plenty of other options out there. These include boot cut styles, yoga sweatpants, wide-leg yoga pants, capris, and more. So while some leggings may work just fine for yoga, there are plenty of other yoga pants to choose from.

There are plenty of yoga pants to choose from.

If you do choose to wear leggings for yoga, make sure you get the right kind. They have to be made of thick, stretchy material that allows for flexibility and movement. You don’t want to wear leggings that are too thin to yoga class.

There is a lot of bending and stretching in yoga and your pants have to have some thickness to them so they don’t wear out too quickly. If you wear something that’s too thin and doesn’t provide enough support, they’ll lose their shape and you will be able to see through them in certain yoga positions.

Leggings Are Multipurpose

We’ve established that some leggings are appropriate for yoga but there are plenty of types of leggings that would definitely not work.

Leggings have become a popular fashion item so there are a lot of different types available in a wide range of prints and materials. They’re commonly used as a layering piece, worn under dresses, paired with boots, or in dozens of other ways. Thin leggings can be worn under skirts and dresses while thicker options that might be appropriate for yoga go better with shorter tees, sweatshirts, sweaters, and jackets.

One of the main differences between yoga pants vs leggings is the waistband. As mentioned, a thick supportive waistband is ideal for yoga but most leggings have a single elastic band around the top. These are great for a fashion item but won’t stay in place during vigorous exercise, especially if there’s a lot of sweat involved.

Obviously, some leggings are meant purely for fashion. You’d never wear leather or denim leggings to do yoga in, though they’d look quite fabulous for a night out on the town. Fleece leggings are great for pajamas or for wearing under your clothes on cold winter days but they’re not a practical choice for any yoga class.

Yoga Pants Are More Modest

Yoga pants are often made from moisture-wicking material.

Because yoga pants are designed for rigorous activity, they’re built with that in mind. In addition to the thick waistband, yoga pants are also usually reinforced around the butt, hips, knees, and seams to provide adequate support and to make sure they don’t wear out from a lot of stretching and movement.

Yoga pants are often made from moisture-wicking material designed to pull away sweat and help you stay cool while exercising. They’re also opaque which means you can’t see through them, even when you’re bending over and transitioning from one pose to another.

Are You Going to Wear Yoga Pants or Leggings?

As you can see, there is a lot of overlap between yoga pants vs leggings. Some leggings do classify as yoga pants but others do not. There are also plenty of yoga pants that aren’t leggings.

The main difference between the two and how you can determine which you’re actually wearing is whether or not they can stand up to the vigorous activity. Sometimes, the answer to this is obvious. Faux leather or denim leggings are obviously not going to be practical for yoga. Even some thick leggings that may appear opaque may not be once you start to bend and stretch and they definitely don’t have what it takes once you break a sweat.

On the other hand, yoga pants are thicker, more structured, and probably not your first choice to wear under your favorite skirt or out on a date. In this case, leggings are a much better option.

Final Thoughts on Yoga Pants vs Leggings

There is a gray area of workout leggings that can double as yoga pants but we still think it’s best to treat these as leggings. Even if you can get by in yoga class wearing them, they’re not designed to take the same amount of abuse that yoga pants are.

If you want something that will last a while and won’t get destroyed by sweat and intense stretching, it’s best to invest in the right pants for the job. Save your cute leggings to wear with your favorite outfit and invest in a good quality pair of yoga pants to make sure you get the most use out of both of them.

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