For a beginning yoga practice, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on yoga gear.
A basic practice needs only basic tools. The list below will help you get started.
- YOGA MAT: The yoga mat is used to provide a clean, supportive, cushioning surface between you and the floor or ground. It also provides a somewhat “sticky” surface to keep you from slipping. A standard yoga mat measures 24″ X 68″, and thicknesses vary from 1/8″ to 1/4″ and thicker. We (Jo and Mel) prefer the thinner mats, as the thicker ones can make it difficult to maintain balance in some standing poses. However, the extra cushiness in the thicker mats can be helpful to those with joint issues. They are made of a wide variety of materials including latex, rubber, cotton, bamboo, microfiber and others. Many discount stores, and of course, sporting goods stores carry basic mats, with Wal-Mart carrying a standard size mat for under $10. (There are so many materials, textures, colors and designs available, we may need to publish an expanded “yoga mat” page on W.O.W. YOGA.) If you are just beginning your yoga journey, you may want to borrow a mat, or use the mats available at the facility where you take yoga classes. But, PLEASE MAKE SURE, it is a thin, sticky mat intended for yoga practice. DO NOT USE a very thick, short mat intended for Pilates or other exercise. Those mats tend to be non-sticky, may slide out from under you, and do not help your feet and hands stay in place during practice. See? Mats are an entire post of their own!
BLOCKS and BLANKETS: Yoga blocks can have a sturdy foam construction, or may be made from wood, cork or bamboo. The standard size measures 3″ X 6″ X 9″. Yoga blocks may be used for support and stability in some yoga poses. A block can be used to extend your reach in a pose like Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana). Two blocks can be used in Scale Pose (Tolasana), especially if you have shorter arms. A thick, folded blanket can be helpful in supporting the hips in seated poses, and the shoulders and upper back in Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana). We also use rolled-up mats for these situations.
- STRAPS or BELTS: Woven straps or belts help to extend your reach, usually when stretching towards the toes. In some instances, they can be used to keep legs or arms in proper alignment for a pose. A strap can also be used by another person to help support you in a pose. The straps pictured are from Nike, Danskin and Rebock, and are various weights and lengths.
In addition to these very basic tools, you may also want to have a towel available when you practice, to help keep your hands and feet dry from perspiration.