Yoga Wear Material Comparison

With so many types of yoga leggings & sports bras out there, it can be difficult figuring out which material is right for you.  This article will cover the more common fibers and the pros and cons of each.  With this information, you should be able to make an informed decision before spending your hard earned dollars on the perfect pair of leggings and sports bra.



We’ll start with polyester because it’s one of the most common fibers you’ll find in yoga wear.  Being extremely durable, the composition of polyester helps it retain its shape after stretching and getting wet. Not only is it sweat resistant, it also shields your body from UV rays, making it perfect for hot weather, outdoor use or high-intensity.  


If you’ll be wearing leggings or other yoga wear in harsh outdoor climates, you probably want high polyester blends. Leggings or shorts made from polyester tend to be thinner than those made from other materials, and therefore better suited for hot weather.



  • Will absorb but not retain moisture
  • Stretchy and doesn’t wrinkle
  • Dries quickly
  • Won’t fade with outdoor use
  • Can be recycled
  • Resists pilling better than Nylon



  • Is prone to static buildup
  • Prone to hold odors
  • Not as breathable as Nylon


Polyamide (Nylon™)


Along with polyester, Nylon™ is a synthetic fiber that was invented in the 20th century to replace natural silk. Since it is so soft, this polymer is a favorite for yoga wear in casual use because it feels great against the skin, won’t lose its shape when stretched, and it is also highly resistant to abrasion.


If your workout or yoga practice is indoors, you’ll likely prefer polyamide to polyester because it is softer and has more flexible fibers, although with today’s manufacturing capabilities, that comfort gap has largely closed. Better suited to milder climates and indoor workouts, it still provides the durability of polyester without the UV protection.



  • More durable than polyester
  • Stretchy and doesn’t wrinkle
  • Typically, softer than polyester



  • Holds water so stays wet longer (although a wicking finish can avoid that)
  • Not as breathable as natural fibers
  • Not resistant to UV rays
  • Has low thermal stability
  • Fades in sunlight
  • Typically more expensive than Polyester


Elastane (Spandex and Lycra)


You’re probably most familiar with the term Lycra® or spandex, which are simply more common names for the elastane fiber. It immediately became popular for use in various types of clothing from the moment it entered the textile market in 1962 due to its ability to make clothes more form fitting. When you buy a pair of skinny jeans or yoga pants that fit you like a glove, that’s because elastane is in them.


Elastane is often part of the fiber blend in yoga wear, and the amount of it in the blend will affect the fit of the garment. For example, a blend with 5% spandex will definitely hang on tighter than just cotton or polyester alone, where a blend of 25% will hug you like grandma. An 12-18% blend will be somewhere in the middle. Additionally, the type of weave will help determine breathability.



  • Expands and returns to its original shape
  • Wicks moisture away from the body
  • Prevents wrinkling
  • Lightweight but strong
  • Soft and smooth against skin



  • Whites will yellow with age
  • Easily harmed by chlorine bleach




Breathable and light, cotton is a natural material that keeps sweat to a minimum and is absorbent enough to wick moisture from your skin. You’ll often find it in yoga wear for items like t-shirts or sweatshirts, as well as part of the blend in many other pieces.


It’s a favorite for yoga classes because it doesn’t get as stinky as synthetics do after a sweaty workout. Additionally, regardless of the fiber blend of your yoga pants or shorts, they should all have a gusset that is 100% cotton due to the material’s ability to absorb moisture.



  • Cotton is inexpensive compared to synthetic fabrics
  • When it dries, it won’t hold smells as much as other fabrics would
  • It’s super easy to wash and dry



  • It will take longer to dry than synthetics
  • It can be less form-fitting, especially if not blended with other synthetic fabrics


The best yoga wear to fit your lifestyle


Since the various fibers and blends that make up yoga clothes work in different ways, you should always shop based on the circumstances of your use and personal preference. Looking for a pair of soft, flowing pants for a low-intensity practice or just lounging around? Cotton and nylon blends will work great, but newer polyesters feel almost as comfortable. If you’re going to be spending any real time outdoors, go with a polyester/spandex blended fabric for ultimate comfort.


Experimenting with different blends and ratios of certain fibers is a great way to find the one that suits you best. The next time you find the perfect pair of yoga pants, be sure to check out the tag so you can know which blend you prefer in your daily practice.   All Simply Yoga Wear products list on the webpage the percentage of fibers in the product (if available).