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.
Your mat choices:
"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. If necessary, simulate a hard floor by investing in a piece of masonite 3/8" or 1/4" thick and cutting it just slightly larger than your mat. Your wrists and ankles will thank you.
Shop REI’s selection of yoga mats.
While nearly any comfortable clothes can work for yoga, keep in mind that you may be upside down or wide-legged in poses. Form-fitting clothes keep you from exposing more of yourself than you expected. They also allow greater ease of movement without sleeves or pant legs getting caught in twists or underfoot.
Moisture-wicking synthetic 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.
For more info, see the REI Expert Advice article, Getting into Yoga.
By Rhonda Krafchin
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Last updated: 02/18/2014
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