Yoga, in its truest sense, is a practice that combines the mind and body. It can be your routine workout, or a meditative exercise. It requires very little to perform, and in some cases, simply requires you to sit in silence and concentrate on your breathing. But for some, taking a yoga class with a group is an enjoyable way to get some exercise. Many gyms offer classes in their dance studios and provide mats and other tools to enhance your yoga experience.
If you’re looking to really get into yoga, here are 7 essential tools you should look into that might heighten your experience:
There is a wide variety of yoga mats to choose from, some good and some bad. It really depends what you’re looking for out of a mat. For instance, Manduka mats come with a lifetime warranty. They are meant for those who practice yoga on a regular basis and want a mat that is going to last. There are lower grade mats that are sticky and tend to crumble into yoga mat confetti after a while. It is important to choose a mat that best fits your needs, especially for those just getting into yoga and require that extra bit of comfort.
Yoga Mat Towels
If you are a sweaty individual or practicing hot yoga, investing in a yoga mat towel is a considerate way of keeping up appearances at the gym or yoga studio. Lots of people bring beach towels or smaller hand towels from home, but a nice microfiber towel such as the Gaiam yoga mat towel is designed specifically to wick up moisture. Gaiam towels can double as a mat, and fit perfectly over that not-so-appealing communal yoga mat.
These yoga pillows offer exceptional support that are great for beginners looking to settle in to various poses. Yoga bolsters help you stay in a pose longer, and keep your concentration better focused on your breath and posture.
Another great tool for beginners who aren’t very flexible. Yoga straps are great for stretching poses where you aren’t quite able to reach your feet or other body parts. Straps provide that extra bit of length necessary to reach limbs and help you reach your flexibility goals. Instructors use yoga straps to assist students looking to go deeper into poses. Straps and scarfs are typically the alternative, but yoga straps are specifically designed with added features that are more suitable and accommodating.
Yoga blocks are another useful support tool to help prop beginners as well as yoga vets looking to better understand appropriate yoga positions. The blocks can also be used as hand and feet rests for those unable to reach the floor during a certain pose. But for the most part, yoga blocks are meant to support limbs and your back through labor-some poses to improve flexibility and alignment.
Yoga Mat Bag
Not exactly an essential yoga exercise tool, but we have all dealt with yoga mats unrolling and becoming exposed to damage. Yoga mat bags are great for those who practice their yoga at home and want to keep their mat tucked away when it isn’t in use. It doesn’t take much for a mat to come unraveled, and some yoga mat bags come with storage pouches for your keys and other personal belongings while class is in session.
Shoes are nice especially if you’re attending yoga classes and using communal mats, or if you have smelly and/or sweaty feet. But low-profile sneakers or split-soled ballet shoes offer that extra bit of support and/or grip you need to nail the toughest of poses. Things can become especially slippery when you’re performing hot yoga, and a nice pair of dance shoes or yoga-inspired cross trainers might be the difference you’ve been looking for all along with your yoga routine.