“Yoga is revealed when the flow of breath stops” – Abhinavagupta
Yoga is a discipline that keeps getting talked about, and for good reason! A philosophy full of temperance, moderation, inspiring values… this practice has it all. It is, therefore, legitimate to want to get involved, or, simply, to want to improve your practice.
There are an estimated 500,000 to 1 million yoga practitioners in the UK today. This success is due to the fact that this discipline is part of a healthier lifestyle trend, in the global sense.
While World Yoga Day is June 21st, many other days of the year we might wonder what equipment is needed when one wishes to try out an introductory yoga class. Whether you are looking to practice seriously or occasionally, there are several accessories needed, which will become helpful tools along the way, to transform yourself into a perfect little yogi!
Working with your body and mind is the challenge of yoga! (Source: Pixabay)
We often see yoga as a discipline of relaxation, even as a hobby, but in actuality, it is a practice that delves much deeper than that. While it has its origins in India, more than 5,000 years ago, it has developed over the years and reinvented itself today, to perfectly match our present way of life.
There are a multitude of yoga studio courses, online courses, yoga training, types of yoga and subcategories: yoga pilates, yoga nidra, dynamic yoga, children’s yoga, Bikram yoga and even more.
All these perhaps unknown terms are actually principles, values, and benefits. Benefits we can achieve according to our desires and our needs: stretching, muscle strengthening, abs, back pain, etc.
Yoga is a complete sport, which works a lot of body parts, in harmony with the spirit, contrary to what some newbies might think. It is, therefore, important to know which type of yoga to turn to, doing so by reflecting on your own expectations and goals.
In a whole other world than combat sports, weight lifting, or cross training, yoga is rich, and accessories are the ideal companion when you want to enjoy its benefits. So what is your goal?
Yoga allows one to:
From here, it will be easy to define your objectives, and above all, to find the type of yoga that suits you best, and in doing so defining which accessories you’ll need to practice it.
However, the fact remains that yoga has movements and postures common to all branches, so it can be easy to practice whichever you choose, with a basic pack of accessories.
A mat is the number one equipment needed when it comes to progressing in yoga. (Source: Pixabay)
The yoga floor mat is an accessory that is essential, regardless of the type of yoga that you want to practice. There are now all sizes, colours and materials available, anyone can find something to suit their tastes.
Among the criteria to be taken into account, the main ones are:
Yoga has become a very popular sport, everything you could want or desire in a mat is now accessible. With non-slip material, foam mat, anti-perspiration, easy to carry, washable… buying a yoga mat has never been so simple and complicated at the same time.
Rolled up into your yoga carrying bag, it will be ready to be unveiled for some sun salutations and other lotus positions. Buying your own yoga mat is a real question that must be pondered. Who said that practising yoga would be simple?
Straps are not necessarily the first accessory to turn to when you start yoga, yet they can be a great ally. Indeed, this type of accessory will allow you to go further in the postures, but will also to allow a better stability, a better stretch, and overall improvement in balance.
There are many straps on the market, you see what material, length, width and tension is best for you and fits your yoga practice.
Note that for those for whom yoga is a more leisure-oriented and less performance-oriented practice, the strap also allows for more effective stretching, and increases the effects of the practice by tenfold.
Because it’s true, practising yoga without accessories is still very good, but we must also know how to take advantage of what is offered by the wellness market, and yoga straps allow you to have a significant anchor for an even more stimulating yoga session!
When you practice yoga with diligence, this discipline can give nice results! (Source: Pixabay)
A yoga block, what exactly is it? Behind an un-glamorous term, this accessory is actually very useful to progress and improve in yoga postures and exercises when you practice.
A true tool, the block can also replace a cushion during meditation but must be chosen carefully, according to the postures of yoga that one wishes to practice.
In cork, wood, lighter or heavier, many models are available commercially, and it enables your yoga class to come alive, even more active.
Because yes, beyond going further in the postures, you can also gain help in maintaining your position and balance, thanks to a simple brick. They can be found at all price points, so this is an area where you can let yourself be tempted!
Sweating on your mat, while it might seem insignificant to us, is a haven for bacteria, unfortunately. In order to be as healthy and hygienic as possible (as well as less damp at the same time), remember to pack this important tool with you to class!
Sweating is always a part of sports and yoga is no exception… it will be important to be able to dry yourself and your mat well, during and after class. The material of the towel you choose will, therefore, become paramount, much more than its size or price, in my opinion.
When I do yoga (because yes, I do!), I always take two towels with me. Why two? Good question! I use one for my face and the other for my mat, because even a well taken care of mat has germs you don’t want to put on your face. Some practitioners also choose to buy a natural yoga mat spray which helps to keep your new yoga tool hygienic longer.
Some small yoga accessories that, if they don’t take up too much space, have the merit of being very useful for hygiene, but also for comfort… some are even made with a non-slip side, ideal for people who perspire a lot.
Maybe you hadn’t yet thought about it, but there are in fact particular clothes recommended for yoga and they form the foundation of progress and comfort when practising yoga.
Indeed, the material, size and type of clothes you choose will affect your movements, which will allow you – or not – to go further in a posture, and, therefore, need to be chosen carefully.
This choice is based on several criteria: comfort, “breathability”, value for your money, or style. Regarding this last point, you have your free choice of all the patterns and colours and can decide if this is as an important aspect as the others.
On the other hand, the comfort and breathability of the garment are much more important, because it is going to affect your yoga experience. A yoga clothing material must be breathable and allow ease of movement while still being close-fitting.
Cotton is the least breathable material, but there are many other materials to choose from, recycled to synthetic! Note that there is also anti-moisture technology, which could, I think, participate in improving comfort during the sport.
It is also useful to know how to opt for clothes that are a good fit for your body. Indeed, baggy pants or tops will get in the way during yoga poses, much more so than yoga leggings or a yoga tank top, just as your bra needs to fit you properly and cover enough surface. Each item needs to fit comfortably to your body and in the proper size, not too large, not too small.
Feeling as free as possible is the key, and clothes tailored specifically for yoga allow us to achieve this goal with flying colours. Also, don’t forget to remove your watch and other jewellery before the start of class!
Doing yoga sometimes requires effort, which accessories can facilitate. (Source: Pixabay)
Beyond these basic tools for the little yogis that we are, there are still a few other tools to explore that can participate in our comfort and progress in this beautiful discipline that is yoga.
A Yoga Ball
A little extra touch, a yoga ball allows you to vary the exercises and yoga postures while improving your balance at the same time. This may seem obvious, but the ball is not stable, and, therefore, requires you to use your muscles lightly to maintain your position, which increases your muscle toning even more.
Note that one can use a ball to stretch, but also to practice other activities such as pilates, gym exercises, yoga or meditation.
A Yoga Bag
A bag is an advantageous tool for the yogi. While often considered as an extra, it can be very handy if it is well chosen. Most include multiple pockets which allows organization while including all that you might want to bring to class: blocks, straps, a mat, water bottle, towels, socks, hair tie and more!
Hopefully we’ve helped you to understand that yoga is a complete practice, which combines sport and serenity, body and mind, and whose accessories often help give you the tools to progress and succeed. Now everyone… off to your mats!