Yoga mat

One of the many nice things about yoga is that it requires relatively little gear.

This article gives a quick summary of yoga mats and other items you should have or may want to consider.

Shop REI's selection of yoga gear.

Yoga Mats

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:

  • Thin mats (0.12" – 0.2" thick) are excellent for those with a strong, flowing practice as they allow for better contact with the floor.
  • Thick mats (0.25" – 0.3" thick) provide cushion as well as grip. They are best for more restorative or therapeutic practices. If your practice includes a lot of standing poses or positions that balance on hands or arms, look for thick mats that won't "give" much. Too-soft thick mats can lead to chronic wrist pain.

"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.

Yoga Clothing

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.

Shop REI’s selection of women’s yoga shirts and yoga pants.

Shop REI’s selection of men’s yoga shirts and yoga pants.

Yoga Accessories

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.

Yoga block

Blocks: These 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.

Related Article

For more info, see the REI Expert Advice article, Getting into Yoga.