One of the nice things about yoga is that it requires relatively little gear. Below is a summary of those items you should have or may want to consider.
A proper yoga mat is the one essential you will need. Working on a towel, rug or gym cushion can lead to injury and frustration. Towels are slippery and offer no grip. Soft pilates or gymnastic cushions and rugs are usually too thick and can lead to chronic wrist pain. They are also difficult to balance on.
"Sticky" mats may be quite slippery if you sweat a lot. Instead, choose a rubber or dull-surface mat or yoga towel. Made of fabric, these absorb sweat and keep you from slipping during a strong practice. Travel mats are quite thin and can be folded and put into luggage easily.
Tip: For active home practices, avoid using a mat directly on the rug. The soft surface can cause chronic wrist pain. Instead, invest in a piece of masonite 3/8" or 1/4" thick. Have it cut just slightly larger than your mat. This will simulate a hard floor. Your wrists and ankles will thank you.
Shop REI’s selection of yoga mats.
Almost any comfortable clothes can work, but avoid loose-legged shorts and tops with hoods. You may be upside down or wide-legged in poses. Beware of exposing more of yourself than you expected. Form-fitting clothes allow greater ease of movement without sleeves or pant legs getting caught in twists or underfoot. Moisture-wicking fabrics won’t stick to you when bending and offer quick-drying comfort, which is a nice feature especially for enthusiasts of hot yoga.
Yoga slings or bags: These offer convenient options for carrying your mat, keeping it clean and preventing it from unrolling while in transit.
Towel: Handy for mopping up puddles of sweat, drying your hands, cushioning knees and propping under hips, head and shoulders.
Straps: These can help you hold proper alignment when your muscles may not be ready. They also act as an extension of your hand when reaching for a foot or toe hold.
Blocks: Wood or foam blocks bring the floor closer to your hands when they don’t quite reach in a forward or side bend. They can be used under hips or to sit on. Wood blocks are heavier but more stable for seated or balance poses. Foam blocks are lighter and easier to move or hold.
Shop REI’s selection of yoga gear.
Socks: Yoga is best done barefoot. However, if you want to keep your feet warm, wear socks in supine and seated poses then remove them for standing poses. Toe-socks with grip dots are also available if you’re stuck using a studio mat. Shop for Injinji socks on REI.com.
For more information on yoga, see the REI Expert Advice article on Getting into Yoga.
By Rhonda Krafchin
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Last updated: 03/05/2013
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