Is Any Equipment For Yoga Necessary?

Yoga is a practice that combines deep breathing, stretching and meditation to create a balance between the body, the mind and the universe around us. Though there are many different styles of yoga – for weight loss, for body toning, for flexibility, or for meditation – students of this art needs little more than a towel in order to begin. However there are certain types of clothing and props that when utilized will make your practice not only more comfortable but more effective too.

Petra's Yoga Poses around the world

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being comfortable is the only equipment for yoga you need

The most important thing to keep in mind when dressing for yoga is comfort. Loose clothing is a must so you do not restrict circulation in the body as you are going through the poses. Also cotton or spandex made clothing will provide you with sweat protection and breath-ability. While most retailers offer a line of yoga clothes many people wonder if it is really worth it to purchase specialized workout gear. In a word – yes. It needn’t be expensive but the design of yoga clothing was made with the practice in mind.

Yoga pants and shorts are mostly elastic free in the waist for more comfort. The usual style fits snugly around your middle while flowing out through the legs. This allows the student a free range of movements in the lower body. A helpful suggestion for beginners is to start off wearing shorts or Capri pants so you can see your feet and check that they are in proper alignment at all times until you are more comfortable in the poses. Yoga tops also come in many different styles – tank tops, tee shirts and sweat shirts. Often people prefer a tee shirt or a tank top. Yoga tops are designed to be flowing throughout the body to allow for your upper body stretching into your poses. The bottoms of yoga tops are more form fitting so your top will stay in place without slipping or bunching. Whatever top you choose, make sure it is loose but not so baggy that it gets in the way of your poses or constantly slips over your head when you are in a downward facing position. Also thinner cotton shirts help prevent overheating. And for women a sports bra with good support is a must. Finally most students practice yoga barefoot, this is the recommended method. However this is not always possible, so if socks must be worn, thin, no slip socks are best.

Practice props are also a part of the equipment for yoga

Once your attire is done, there are many different props that can be used in your yoga practice. A good yoga mat is probably the most important piece of equipment that you can buy since it will provide the main support for your back and spine. Based on your needs, there are many different styles of mats that can help you. Traditional flat mats are of medium thickness, firm and provide not only stability for your back in resting poses but also support for your hands when you are flowing through your routine. Sticky mats are popular with many yoga lovers since the sticky coating on the back allows them to be pressed on to any surface and will stick to the floor to prevent any slipping. There are also travel mats that are thin and fold up flat so you can bring your mat with you and exercise while on the road. If you choose to practice without a mat then remember to always use a towel for extra support and never to practice on a hard surface.

Yoga blocks are another tool that many deem essential to a good yoga practice. They are often extremely helpful to beginners to help them achieve proper body alignment while becoming familiar with the poses. More advanced users will often use yoga blocks to help them with their balance as they advance to more challenging poses.

Yoga straps are a great way to add flexibility and length to your poses. Also, by adding resistance, more advanced students will get a little more of a challenge to their bodies as they move through the routine. Yoga straps are made using a blend of durable cotton and nylon and they come in many different sizes, so you are sure to find one that will fit your height.

Adding a foam yoga wedge to your practice can add some much needed relief to your body. Even if not used on a consistent basis, foam wedges are wonderful when a little extra support is needed due to sore muscles or joints. They can be placed under your heels while in squatting positions, under your hips in forward bends or under your wrists when in downward facing positions. They can also be placed under the lower back during any mat work. Some students also enjoy using them underneath the neck at the end of a routine when they are doing deep breathing exercises.

Yoga bolsters are pillows or cushions that, like the wedges, offer more support. However the level of support that yoga pillows or cushions offer is much greater than the support offered by wedges. For meditative yoga, a good cushion, larger than a yoga pillow, is a must. Yoga cushions will not only provide comfort to your bottom during the long periods of sitting but will also help you keep your spine in proper alignment which is essential to the yoga method. Yoga pillows are often used during the restorative breathing portions of the practice to help relieve body tension. By placing the pillow behind your neck, or your upper or lower back you can do your deep breathing exercises comfortably while tension is relieved from your pressure points. They can also be used any time throughout your practice as extra support to your lower back. For expectant mothers who are starting or continuing their practice this is an essential tool as it will keep you from lying flat on your back while exercising, which is discouraged after the first trimester of pregnancy.

Yoga is a wonderful practice that allows you to not only relive stress from your body but your mind as well. Though no specific clothing or equipment is needed, the above items are always available to help you make your practice more comfortable and relaxing. The true meaning of yoga is about balance, in your body, mind and with the universe around us. And one cannot achieve balance on a hard surface or with too tight clothing! Choose what is right for you, take a deep, restorative breath and discover your inner balance with your new yoga practice.

Comments

  1. Simon says

    Great information. For those of you who do any sort of hot yoga may want to consider a Sweat Mate from Recycle Fashionably! They have a great reusable, waterproof, stuff sack for your wet and sweaty workout gear!

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