Yoga Equipment Basics
Unlike many sports and activities, yoga has only a few items on the list of helpful components for participating in this rich, fulfilling practice. You don’t need to invest in thousands of dollars of racquets, special shoes, complicated gear, or the other items often found with a new activity. It’s a good idea to have these basics on hand so that you can build a yoga practice with is healthy, safe, and enjoyable.
One of the most important items you should look into getting for your yoga practice is a good quality yoga mat. If there’s any one place not to skimp, this is it. I’ve used hundreds of types of yoga mats over the years. If you have a slippery yoga mat, it can hurt you, because when you put yourself into a pose like downward facing dog your hands and feet can slip. You could fall. This might only cause a minor sprain or bruise in some of the lower positions, but it could cause far worse injury in a more complicated position.
Also, if your yoga mat doesn’t have enough cushion, it could hurt your knees or elbows or other bony body parts as you put pressure on them. In yoga we use a mat for a reason. We want that cushion and support beneath us as we hold poses. Make sure you get a mat that provides ample cushion for your shape and size.
Other variables like color and design are more about personal preference. If it brings you great joy to have a mat with the colorful chakras on it, and that has you looking forward to your yoga practice, then go for it. But above all else make sure it’s not slippery and that it has the cushion you need.
You can easily spent thousands of dollars on super-fancy, custom-designed, hand-embroidered yoga tops and pants. If that’s the way your finances and budget runs, have at it. But for practical purposes, all you need is a top that stays put and pants that move with you. Both should be temperature-appropriate for your environment and activity level. You don’t want to be overheating because you chose something with long sleeves and long pants and the place you practice is sweltering. On the other hand, if you’re shy, taking a public class, and resist going because you don’t want people to see your skin, that’s a different challenge.
You want above all to wear something you’re comfortable in. But when you do head-down poses like downward facing dog, you don’t want a loose t-shirt that now flops down and smothers you. I’ve been in that situation. You don’t want your leggings binding up and restricting your ability to bend onto your knees. So think relatively loose on the pants, relatively “stay in place” on the top, and as comfortable for the situation as you can be.
Blocks and Cushions
A key aspect of yoga is that every pose can be adapted to work with your current physical situation. We all have different degrees to which our limbs can bend. To which our joints can support stress. That is normal and natural. Poses are gentled or supported with soft blocks and cushions.
If you find you need help with a pose, definitely look into the tools to safely support you in that work. If you can’t quite balance, there is usually some sort of a block or cushion which can help you to do that safely. The number one priority is that you are able to do each pose in a way which best suits your current situation, whatever that is. The blocks and cushions don’t have to be fancy or expensive. They just have to work – safely – for your situation.
Resistance straps are in essence large rubber bands. They let you push and pull using your own body weight and strength to work with your muscles. There are plenty of poses which work well without resistance straps, and if for financial reasons you can’t afford them then simply choose other poses to do. But if you really want to work with poses that use resistance straps, get ones which are sturdy enough to hold up against your weight. You don’t want to get a cheap one which will break or snap. Also, you want to get one which is comfortable and won’t abrade your skin.
Yoga is a fantastic way to improve balance, lower blood pressure, deepen sleep, enhance focus, build flexibility, and provide a hundred other health and mental benefits. With just a few simple pieces of equipment, you can bring a safe daily yoga practice into your life. That will support every other goal and project you have for the entire rest of your day. Invest in yourself – your body will thank you!
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