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

Words by Isobel Coughlan

Shopping for the right sportswear can be heaven or hell. When you know exactly what you’re looking for, it’s nothing short of a pleasure. However, if you’re feeling a tad muddled or confused, finding the ideal gear for your workout can feel entirely daunting.

Yoga vs running leggings

When it comes to leggings, there’s one major conundrum. Do you need yoga leggings or running leggings? And, crucially, what on earth is the difference? That’s a good question.

Worry not, as we have all the answers you’ve been craving. In this short and snappy guide, we will reveal all you need to know and even give you our best product picks too.

Yoga Leggings vs. Running Leggings: The Key Differences

While we’ve looked at the best yoga and running leggings, it’s also important to understand the key differences. You may be forgiven for thinking that they are one and the same.

However, while you can wear some yoga leggings for running, the two styles of sportswear are different. Here’s what you need to know.

Yoga leggings


One of the major differences between yoga leggings and running leggings is in compression. Typically, the latter tends to be tighter than the former.

As we have already mentioned, the two major reasons for this are that they stay up and support your body's natural form. You should always go for a slightly tight fit when choosing running leggings.

Nature of fabric

Of course, the nature of the fabric differs here too. Yoga leggings tend to be ultra-soft, breathable and stretchable. On the other hand, running leggings are soft, breathable, and stretchable but also have moisture-wicking features and extras such as mesh panelling. Much of the time, they will be seamless or have seams that are understated for comfort.

When you’re running, it’s crucial that your muscles are supported and can move freely. Therefore, the fabric you choose for your leggings is vital. Selecting running leggings with a seamless design, high breathability, and elasticity is the right way to go.

Yoga leggings

Yoga Leggings

Before you hit your next yoga class, getting the right yoga pants for the job is essential. This type of sports gear has a specific style that supports your body and offers comfort while doing your asanas.

Finding the best yoga leggings for your needs doesn’t have to be complicated. You should simply ensure you know what you’re looking for first.

What to look for in yoga leggings

Don’t be baffled by the array of choices. From hot yoga leggings to yoga leggings with pockets, there’s a wide selection of options. Ahead of diving in and buying a pair, you need to understand what to look for.

Regardless of the style you buy, the best yoga leggings all have a handful of core features in common. Here’s a breakdown of must-have styles.

Yoga leggings

1. High Waist

“How do I keep my leggings from falling down?” It’s a question that we’ve all asked ourselves at times. Moving from pose-to-pose takes flexibility and practice. However, if your yoga leggings are constantly sliding down, it’s a surefire way to ruin your flow.

For that reason, high-waisted yoga leggings tend to be a vastly popular choice. The beauty of these leggings is that they cover your lower abdomen and don’t slip down when you move.

What’s more, this type of sportswear can work for any occasion too. If you’re looking for some yoga leggings for work, you may find that these fit the bill. Perfect.

2. Breathable fabric

Let’s not beat around the bush, yoga can be hot work. Ensuring that your yoga leggings feature breathable fabric is an absolute must. When you’re in the midst of a session, the last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable or sweaty.

Choosing a light and perhaps even moisture-wicking style of material will mean that this is never a problem.

3. Soft, comfortable fabric

Comfort is king! When you’re practicing yoga, you need to feel comfortable and supported at all times. Investing in the best yoga leggings with high-quality fabric is the way to go.

Often enough that means choosing a blend of materials. Of course, some brands have their own style of ultra-cosy material. For instance, Alo Yoga boasts Alosoft fabric and Beyond Yoga has their famous Spacedye fabric.

4. Squat proof fabric

Flexibility is a big part of practicing yoga. That means that your yoga leggings need to be entirely squat proof. You’re going to need to bend, flex and move around freely.

Before you buy a pair of leggings, make sure that you read the description. Some of the best yoga leggings have unique four-way stretch material which is a huge bonus.

Can you run in yoga leggings?

If you’ve already got a trusty pair of yoga leggings, you may be wondering if they can do double-duty. The age-old question comes up time and time again: Can you run in yoga leggings? The answer is that it depends on the fabric and design.

If your yoga leggings are compressive and have moisture-wicking properties, such as Alo Yoga Airlift Legging or the Girlfriend Collective Compressive High Rise Leggings, you can run in them comfortably.

Please note that the leggings need to be tight enough to stay up when you’re running.

Running leggings

What are the Best Yoga Leggings?

Now that you understand what you should be looking for in the best yoga leggings, let’s take a look at some options. If you’re hunting for some divine inspiration, you’ve got it. Here are three of the snazziest and most durable yoga leggings you can get right now.

  • 1. Sweaty Betty Super Soft Yoga Leggings

  • Sweaty Betty is one of the most popular UK sports brands, and you can trust the Sweaty Betty Super Soft Yoga Leggings to keep you comfortable and focused while practising your Cat-Cows.

    These leggings tick all the boxes with sweat-wicking fabric, a super high-waisted style, and side pockets. But their advantages don’t stop there. They’re also breathable, 7/8 length, sweat-wicking, and 90% squat-proof. No see-through bums here!

    The sizing is fitted. You should be good when selecting your usual size. However, you can size up for a looser feel.

    The Highlights:
    • 90% squat-proof
    • Funky leopard print design
    • Sweat-wicking & breathable fabric
    • Super high-waisted

    Shop the leggings here.

    Sweaty Betty Super Soft Yoga Leggings

    Beyond Yoga Spacedye Caught in the Midi Leggings

  • 2. Beyond Yoga Spacedye Caught in the Midi Leggings

  • With a fantastic fitted design, high rise and 7/8 length, the Beyond Yoga Spacedye Caught in the Midi Leggings could be the ideal addition to your wardrobe.

    The black yoga leggings are made of comfortable Spacedye Performance fabric, which is super soft. Add that to the fact that these are fast-drying and wick away moisture, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

    These leggings should fit true to size. However, they might run longer on those 5’3” and below.

    The Highlights:
    • UV protection for outside classes
    • 7/8 length
    • 4-way stretch
    • Ultra soft feel

    See the leggings now.

  • 3. YMO SoftLuxe Leggings

  • The softest legging of them all? These high-waisted leggings from YMO are perfect for yoga, Pilates and barre. They’re so comfortable that you’ll want to wear them day in, day out.

    The subtle compression fit means these leggings will stay put as you flow without being restrictive. So you can simply focus on your practice. Plus, they’re breathable, super soft, and made from 50% sustainable materials. Eco-friendly and suitable for your workouts. Nice!

    This bestselling style is currently available in charcoal and navy. Look out for the matching SoftLuxe bra, too.

    The Highlights:
    • Wide, high-waisted waistband
    • Breathable fabric
    • Super soft feel
    • Made from 50% recycled materials

    Jump to the leggings now.

    YMO SoftLuxe Leggings

    Nike Yoga Dri-Fit Leggings

    4. Nike Yoga Dri-Fit Leggings

    For yoga leggings you can trust, add the Nike Yoga Dri-Fit Leggings to your wishlist. These specially designed leggings put flexibility first, ensuring you can nail new poses without restrictions.

    Flexibility isn’t the only fabulous thing about these leggings, though. They’re also equipped with Nike’s iconic Dri-Fit technology. This means they keep you cool and dry via sweat-wicking and provide a breathable feel for high-energy, sweaty workouts.

    These leggings provide a tight fit for a body-hugging feel. You’ll need to wear them for a few sessions to help mould your body. If you want a looser fit from the start, opt for a size down.

    The Highlights:
    • High-rise, high-waisted fit
    • Dri-FIT technology
    • 7/8 length
    • Body-hugging feel

    Shop the leggings now.

    5. Vuori Daily Leggings

    If you want yoga leggings that look great, feel amazing and can be worn for workouts and brunch, the Vuori Daily Leggings should be on your radar. These attractive leggings mix style and functionality for a fabulous finish.

    A key perk of these yoga leggings is the high-rise, no-slip style. You can trust these leggings to stay up regardless of your position. They even have a handy drawstring so you can fasten them to your preferred feel.

    The leggings also feature smart fabric technology to optimise your yoga performance. For example, they’re moisture-wicking and breathable to help you move easily. Perfect for those mid-summer sessions or winter walks.

    You can try these leggings in Ink, Baltic, Beryl, Fern, Black, and Light-Penny. No matter your aesthetic, there’s a hue for you.

    The Highlights:
    • Extensive range of colours
    • No-slip fit
    • High-waisted with a drawcord finish
    • Moisture wicking fabric

    See more about the leggings here.

    Vuori Daily Leggings

    Running Leggings

    Whether you’re sprinting 10K or simply out for a morning jog, getting the right running leggings is essential. This high-endurance activity demands the right gear.

    When you’re mid-run, you need to know that your leggings will stay up, keep you cool and feel comfortable. It’s a tall order. However, investing in quality running leggings will help.

    Running leggings

    What to look for in running leggings

    Before you rush to buy some running leggings, you need to know what you’re looking for. While there are many great options out there, ensuring that yours have some key features is a smart move.

    With that in mind, here are the important traits every pair should have.

    Running leggings

    1. High Waist

    From the moment you start running in high waisted leggings, you will never wear anything else. These are real game-changers. One of the major complaints, when people are jogging, is that their leggings start to slide down and, ultimately, slow them down.

    Avoid this issue by choosing a pair of quality leggings that are either high rise or high waisted.

    2. Seamless construction

    Looking for the epitome of comfort? You might want to opt for a seamless construction design. Doing so means that you will be less aware of your leggings when you’re running, i.e. they won’t cause any discomfort or unnecessary irritation.

    Look for a seamless legging that offers both compression and breathability in one little package. Simple.

    3. Compression

    Here’s the golden rule: Running leggings should be tight. You need a compressive pair of leggings when you’re out for a sprint. The main reason that this style works so well is that it stops the leggings from moving too much when you’re running.

    What’s more, you will find that the compressive design also supports the muscles, which are working hard.

    4. Breathable fabric

    Whether you’re running al-fresco or on a machine, your heart-rate is set to rise and so is your temperature. To keep you going, you need to choose a breathable legging fabric.

    This style of gear will help you stay cool and comfortable. You might even choose a pair of running leggings that have a chic mesh design, which also offers breathability.

    5. Moisture-wicking fabric

    The final thing you should look for when choosing the best running leggings is moisture-wicking fabric. Needless to say, when you’re running, you may sweat.

    The last thing you need is to feel uncomfortable because the fabric of your leggings is damp. Opting for a pair that offers supreme wicking means that you never have to face that issue.

    How tight should running leggings be?

    The issue of how tight running leggings should be is always a hot topic. The ideal pair of leggings need to be quite tight. Since you will be moving fast when you run, there’s the danger of your leggings slipping down, if they are slightly lax.

    Instead, when you’re choosing your sportswear, ensure that they have a high level of compression and tight fit.

    Running leggings

    The compressive feature in running leggings offers warmth, but that’s by no means its only benefit. The compression offers pressure on the legs, which positively affects your blood-flow.

    Rather than all of the blood rushing to your legs as you move, the tightness causes it to flow back to the heart and increases your capacity to keep running fast.

    What are the Best Running Leggings

    Looking to buy the perfect running leggings for your next session? Fortunately, we’ve got some inspiration that will help you along the way. While there are many fantastic options out there, let’s take a look at five of the best running leggings you may consider.

    Sweaty Betty Zero Gravity Leggings

  • 1. Sweaty Betty Zero Gravity Leggings

  • Once again, we’re highlighting a pair of Sweaty Betty leggings! Meet the Zero Gravity Leggings, a weightless alternative to standard running leggings. With careful construction and a feather-light feel, these ultra-light leggings ensure you can run without feeling weighed down. Perfect for all seasons.

    The leggings are also completed with an adjustable band and high waist. You won’t have to pull these up after every mile. The leggings also feature compression technology, which gives you the support needed to finish your 5K without stress.

    This pair provides a compressive fit. So, the leggings will feel a little tight at first — even if you don’t size down.

    The Highlights:
    • Side and back pockets
    • Compression technology
    • Reflective elements
    • Feather-light feel

    Explore the leggings today.

  • 2. Nike Epic Fast Pocket Leggings

  • Nike is a brand you can trust when it comes to running leggings. With years of experience and expert designs, their running legging selection is here to uplift your workouts — and the Epic Fast Pocket Leggings are proof of this.

    The mid-rise waistband and breathable mesh panels set these leggings apart from other Nike offerings. If you’re unsure about a super high waist style, this mid-rise option will keep you cool and comfortable without the extra fabric.

    The leggings also included curved back seams, a reflective swoosh, and a pocket to keep your keys and phone safe. No more carrying them on long runs!

    These leggings give a tight fit for a body-hugging feel. Size up for a baggy feel.

    The Highlights:
    • Reflective design for winter running
    • Curved back seams for a sculpted shape
    • Breathable fabric
    • Mid-rise finish

    Jump to the leggings now.

    Nike Epic Fast Pocket Leggings

    ON Running Performance Leggings

  • 3. On Running Performance Leggings

  • ON Running is another brand runners know and love. As their name suggests, they’re dedicated to producing sportswear for joggers and runners, so you can trust this team to help you stride confidently.

    These leggings include a mixture of compressive and breathable panels, as this balance keeps you cool and supported no matter your speed. The panel design also sculpts and shapes you, which is ideal for anyone who wants a pair of leggings that offers technical assistance and a flattering look.

    Alongside sculpting, these leggings are sweat-wicking, breathable, and quick-drying. Getting stuck in the rain is no cause for concern here!

    These are fitted leggings. Opt for your normal size for the best feel.

    The Highlights:
    • Compressive and breathable
    • High-waisted
    • Quick-drying and sweat-wicking
    • 50% recycled materials

    Learn more about the leggings here.

  • 4. Sweaty Betty Therma Boost 2.0 Leggings

  • Looking for running leggings with a reflective print? The Sweaty Betty Therma Boost 2.0 Leggings could be the pair for you. With An attractive reflective design and moisture-wicking technology, these leggings are designed to keep you supported, cool, and seen no matter the season.

    These leggings are super lightweight, meaning you won’t feel restricted or weighed down on your run. They’re also made from 50% recycled materials, ensuring your workouts aren’t harming the planet.

    Other notable features of these leggings include a wide waistband, high waist, and side pockets. The leggings are available in Grey and Black.

    As these leggings are designed to be fitted, opt for your standard size.

    The Highlights:
    • High waisted
    • Lightweight feel
    • Reflective design
    • Sustainable fabrics

    See more about the leggings here.

    Sweaty Betty Therma Boost 2.0 Leggings

    Goodmove Go Move Reflective Leggings

  • 5. Goodmove Go Move Reflective Leggings

  • Another gorgeous reflective pick, the Goodmove Go Move Reflective Leggings mixes style and sports functionality. AKA these leggings look great for winter runs, summer jogs, and when meeting your friends.

    Alongside a highly reflective and attractive design, these leggings provide a moisture-wicking and breathable experience. There’s also a back pocket to keep your valuables safe on the go.

    Want a high-rise legging that leaves you feeling snatched? The Goodmove Go Move Reflective Leggings also tick this box. These are fitted leggings. For the best experience, opt for your standard size.

    The Highlights:
    • Attractive pattern
    • Reflective design
    • High waist
    • Moisture wicking fabric

    See the leggings in more detail here.

    The Best Yoga and Running Crossover Leggings

    While the two styles of leggings are often different, there is some crossover here. If you’re hunting for a two-in-one style of leggings, there are plenty of options out there.

    Here are three examples of leggings, suitable for any yoga flow that you can also wear when you’re out running.

    Girlfriend Collective High Waisted Compressive Leggings

  • 1. Girlfriend Collective High Waisted Compressive 7/8 Leggings

  • The Girlfriend Collective High Waisted Compressive Leggings have it all. These are some of the best workout leggings that serve two purposes. Showcasing a compressive fit that’s perfect for either running or yoga sessions, these leggings will suit most occasions.

    The high-waisted design also means that the leggings stay in place whatever you’re doing. When it comes to the fabric, there’s a lot to shout about. The sweat-wicking material offers a four-way stretch system and is breathable.

    Of course, we all have a duty to become more sustainable. Believe it or not, the ultra-soft fabric utilises recycled water bottles, which means they are eco-friendly! Good for your workouts and the planet.

    Calling colourful girlies! These leggings are available in six different shades.

    Note that these leggings will feel tight at first. They will mould to your body over time. If you want less compression, size up.

    The Highlights:
    • Compressive fit
    • Four-way stretch
    • Sustainable fabric
    • Sweat-wicking

    Learn more about the leggings now.

  • 2. Nike One Leggings

  • If you’re looking for yoga leggings with pockets, look no further. Complete with handy side pockets, the Nike One Leggings are made from the revolutionary Dri-FIT fabric. Perfect for leveraging both yoga and running sessions with Nike’s famous fabric.

    These leggings also have sweat-wicking and extra stretch, so you can always perform at your best. Plus, with a high level of flexibility, these leggings can also be worn for running or any other type of workout.

    The best feature of these leggings? The V-contoured waist. This design gives you a smooth and flattering finish. You’ll want to wear these leggings everywhere.

    The leggings provide a tight, body-hugging feel. You don’t need to size down!

    The Highlights:
    • V-contoured waist
    • Non-sheer
    • Dri-FIT technology
    • High waisted

    See the leggings in more detail here.

    Nike One Leggings

    Sweaty Betty Power Leggings

  • 3. Sweaty Betty Power Leggings

  • If you’re ready to invest in some new leggings, consider the Sweaty Betty Power Leggings! These multi-sport leggings cover yoga, running, and everything in between. They're ideal if you want a robust pair for any occasion.

    The Power Leggings combine flattering sculpting seams with quick-drying and sweat-wicking properties for a confidence-boosting look and constant breathability. You won’t overheat and fumble your race in these popular sports leggings!

    In addition to technical fabrics, the Sweaty Betty Power Leggings also have a back zip pocket and a side pocket to hold your valuables. You can purchase them in black, black with reflective leopard print, and black camo print. Not too over the top — but not completely minimal either.

    These are fitted leggings, but their flexible stretch won’t leave you restricted. For the best feel, pick your usual size.

    The Highlights:
    • Flattering seams
    • Quick-drying
    • Double pickets
    • High-waisted fit

    See the leggings online now.

    The Takeaway

    Ready to find your perfect pair of leggings? Now that we’re approaching 2024, it could be the ideal time to revamp your sportswear. Within this guide, we’ve given you the low-down on how to find the best leggings for your active lifestyle.

    Now that you’ve got the inside scoop, why not take the time to find the right pair for you and your workouts?