Yoga Equipment Guide for Beginners
Yoga Equipment Guide for Beginners
Yoga Equipment Guide for Beginners
When you first start doing yoga, it's hard to know what you really need to buy. The
yoga mat continues to develop so much
clothing and equipment that you might feel you need to spend hundreds of dollars before
ever stepping foot in a studio.
The good news is, you actually need very little to get started. That said, if
you're starting a home practice, or you'd feel better purchasing yoga-specific
apparel and equipment prior to your first class, here's what you need to know.
It should go without saying that most aerial yoga accessories want you to wear something to class, but you
don't need scores of printed yoga pants or designer gear to be accepted by your peers.
Start with the comfortable, breathable athletic apparel you already have on hand, and
purchase mid-level basics for anything you're missing.
Pants or Shorts: You can't go wrong with a few pairs of solid-color yoga pants in
black, dark grey, navy, or brown. You can mix-and-match these tights with a wide variety of
tops, and if you purchase high-quality options, they can last a long time.
If tight pants aren't your thing, look for jogger-style pants or the popular
harem-style pants that have elastic around the ankles. These pants are stretchy and offer a
little extra room, but due to the ankle elastic, they'll stay in place throughout your
Shorts are a popular option for guys, and they're also appropriate for women,
especially if you plan to try hot yoga. Just keep in mind, you may want to wear form-
fitting spandex shorts or looser shorts with connected tights underneath because some poses
require you to position your legs in a way that could leave you uncomfortably uncovered
with looser, running-style shorts.
Tops: It's important to wear tops that are fairly form-fitting so your shirt
doesn't fly over your head during forward bends. Wicking material is helpful,
especially if you tend to sweat a lot or if you plan on attending a hot yoga class.
Because yoga rooms are sometimes kept cool, you may want to bring a light cover up or
sweater with you to class. You can wear it until class starts, and if you keep it by your
mat, you can put it on before the final savasana.
Sports Bras: If you're a woman, make sure you wear a sports bra. While
TPE yoga mat tends to be
a low-impact activity, a decent sports bra can help keep your "girls" in place as
you transition between poses, making your practice more comfortable.
Hair Ties or Headbands: Whether you're a man or woman, if you have long hair, you
need to secure it in place before you start class to prevent stray locks from falling in
your eyes and face. A basic hair tie or headband should do the trick.
Yoga Socks: To be clear, yoga socks are not a requirement to attend a class. In fact,
it's preferable to do yoga barefoot. That said if you can't fathom the thought of
taking your socks and shoes off in front of strangers, invest in a pair of yoga socks with
grips on the bottom so you can keep your feet covered while maintaining good traction.
Standard socks absolutely won't do, as you'll end up slipping and sliding all over
These days, you can buy yoga apparel practically anywhere, and it's not unusual to
see yoga pants priced at over $100. Don't feel you need to lay out that much cash for a
single pair of pants! Target, Amazon, and YogaOutlet offer quality options for well under
$50. Buy a couple pairs of pants and a few tops, and you'll be set for months.
As you commit yourself to your practice, you may decide to add trendy prints or styles
to your wardrobe.
In gyms and yoga studios, it’s commonplace to use a yoga mat, also called a sticky
mat. The mat helps define your personal space, and, more importantly, it creates traction
for your hands and feet so you don’t slip, especially as you get a little sweaty. The mat
also provides a bit of cushioning on a hard floor.
Most gyms provide mats and studios have them for rent, usually for a dollar or two per
class. This is fine for your first few classes, but the disadvantage to these mats is that
lots of people use them and you can't be sure how often they're being cleaned, so
you may consider buying your own.
Premium yoga mats can be expensive, often around $80 to $120, but it's possible to
find a starter mat for as little as $20 from retailers like Target and Amazon. Just keep in
mind, if you decide to buy a cheaper mat, you'll probably find yourself replacing it in
short order if you use it often. If you're really ready to commit to a yoga practice,
your mat is one place it's worth it to lay out some cash.
Decide which mat features are important to you—for instance, length, thickness,
material, durability, comfort, traction, or how to keep it clean—then buy a mat with good
reviews based on your needs. Manduka and Lululemon are known for the quality of their Pro
Mat and The Reversible Mat, respectively, but other brands, including Jade and Yellow
Willow, also offer high-quality, durable mats with good traction and support.
Yoga props are a boon to a fledgling suede yoga mat practice. Props allow students to maintain the
healthiest alignment in a range of poses as the body bends, twists, and opens up. They also
help you get the most out of each pose while avoiding injury.1
You should familiarize yourself with the props described below, but you don't need
to buy your own (unless you're starting a home practice) because they are almost always
provided by studios and gyms.
Mat Bags or Slings
If you own your own yoga mat, and you're going to be lugging it back and forth to
the studio on a regular basis, there's a legitimate case to be made for purchasing a
mat bag or sling. These accessories do exactly what they suggest—they make it easy for you
to sling your rolled mat over your shoulder without it coming unrolled.
Slings usually use velcro straps to bind your mat in its rolled configuration with a
connecting strap you can throw over your shoulder. Slings sometimes offer additional
pockets for storage, but not always. Bags, on the other hand, typically come in one of two
styles. One version uses velcro straps to keep your rolled mat secure against a larger gym
bag. The other version is essentially a snap- or zipper-closure bag specifically designed
to hold your rolled mat. Both styles provide extra storage for clothing, wallets, cell
phones, and the like.
The style and brand you choose really comes down to personal preference and budget, as
slings can cost as little as $10, and heavy-duty bags can cost well over $100. For variety,
check out YogaOutlet, where you can find an array of brands at reasonable prices.
Yoga studios usually have stacks of blankets available for students to use during
class. Grab one or two blankets at the beginning of class.
Folded blankets can be used to lift the hips during seated poses, or to offer support
during lying poses. For instance, when you sit cross-legged, you can place a blanket under
your sit bones to elevate the hips above your knees. Blankets come in handy for all sorts
of things during class, and if it’s chilly, you can use them to cover up during the final
For a home practice, there's truly no reason to purchase new blankets. Simply use
what you already have on hand around the house. If, however, you don't own any extra
blankets, YogaOutlet offers them for as little as $13.
Like blankets, yoga blocks are used to make you more comfortable and improve your
alignment. Blocks are particularly useful for standing poses in which your hands are
supposed to be on the floor.
Placing a block under your hand has the effect of "raising the floor" to meet
your hand rather than forcing the hand to come to the floor while effectively compromising
some other part of the pose. This can be seen in half moon pose. Many people don't have
the hamstring flexibility or core strength to hold the position with proper form.
By placing a block under the hand that's reaching toward the floor, it's easier
to keep the chest open and torso strong. Without the block, the chest might be inclined to
turn toward the floor, the supporting knee might be inclined to bend, and the torso might
be inclined to "collapse." The simple use of the block helps maintain proper
Yoga blocks are made of foam, wood, or cork. They can be turned to stand at three
different heights, making them very adaptable. If you plan to do a lot of
swivel at home
it's worth it to get a set of blocks (helpful for poses where both hands are reaching
toward the ground). If you're going to attend classes, blocks will be provided for you.
The good news is, almost any block is sufficient, so this is an area you don't have
to worry too much about scrimping on. But slightly wider blocks—those that are at least
four-inches wide—provide better stability. YogaOutlet and Amazon offer several sizes and
styles for under $10 each. If you're willing to pay a little more, Yoga Hustle offers
some fun options for $24 a pop.
Yoga straps, also called belts, are particularly useful for poses where you need to
hold onto your feet but cannot reach them. The strap basically acts as an arm extender. For
instance, in pascimottanasana, if you can't reach your feet with your hands in the
seated forward fold, you can wrap the strap around the bottom of your feet and hold onto
the strap to maintain a flat back instead of slumping forward.
Straps are also great for poses where you bind your hands behind the back
(marichyasana, for example). If your shoulders don't allow enough flexibility for the
bind, you can use a strap to "connect" both hands without excess strain. And with
the strap's help, you can move your hands toward each other over time to make progress
toward the full bind.
You probably have something around your house that would work as a strap (like a belt
or even a towel) and yoga studios supply them for use during class. That said, if you
really want to buy an official version, it's hard to beat the price of YogaOutlet,
where you can find straps for under $10.
Bolsters have many uses for yoga students. You can use them in place of a stack of
blankets to make seated and forward bending poses more comfortable. You can place them
under your knees or your back when reclining for support and passive stretching. They are
particularly handy in restorative and prenatal yoga classes. If you take this type of
class, the bolsters will be provided. If you want to do restorative yoga at home, it may be
worth it to invest in your own bolster.
The are two basic bolster shapes: round and flat (more of a rectangular shape). Flat
bolsters tend to be more ergonomic; however, round bolsters can be useful when you want
more support or a deeper stretch. It comes down to personal preference.
If you have the option, use both styles in class before you decide which one best suits
your home practice. Amazon is the best place to shop for sheer variety and price, but if
you want a pretty bolster, check out Hugger Mugger, Inner Space, or Chattra. The prices are
in line with the marketplace ($40 to $80), and the designs are bright and beautiful.
Yoga wheels are a relatively new prop starting to gain a foothold in the yoga studio.
These wheels are roughly 12-inches in diameter and are about four-inches wide. When set
upright, you can lie back on the wheel or place a foot or hand on top of the wheel to
deepen your stretches and enhance flexibility, slowly rolling the wheel farther as you
relax into each stretch. Wheels can also be used in more advanced practices as a way to
challenge stability or to offer support during challenging poses.
While it's unlikely that you'll need a yoga wheel as a beginner, you may want
to consider a purchase down the line. Most wheels range in price from $40 to $60. Yoga
Design Lab, for instance, offers one for $48.