The yoga supplies and accessories you need will depend on what kind of yoga you are doing, and where you are deciding to practice. Obviously, some gyms will have most of the materials you need, and bringing your own stuff is optional, while most other classes will require you to bring your own. Even if supplies are provided for you, it is still recommended that you purchase your own, as many times gym equipment is dirty or in poor repair. Having your own equipment will make yoga more a part of your life, allow you to practice on your own, and you can make sure that you’re keeping it nice.
Necessary Yoga Supplies and Accessories
There are three basic supplies that I recommend to everyone who does yoga: a mat, an instructional video, and a towel.
1. Yoga Mat
You want to get a mat because you will be getting down on the ground to do many of the positions and exercises, and carpeting will prevent you from shifting and pivoting for a full range of movements. Mats also give you a cushion, improve your balance and traction, and are just more comfortable than a bare floor. No matter what kind of yoga you’re doing, this is important to have.
2. Instructional Video
You will also want to grab an instructional video so that you can practice at home, particularly for those once-a-week classes where your instructor expects you to practice at home. It will be nearly impossible for you to master the basics without regular practice (even if it’s only a 10-minute session), and the video will help you remember particular movements or breathing patterns.
3. Yoga Towel
You also want to make sure to bring a towel with you. Even if your type of yoga is not particularly stressful, you should find yourself working up a bit of a sweat. You’ll also want a towel for wiping down your mat in the middle, or at the end of each session, particularly if yours is a plastic or highly cushioned mat. Those can become slippery when wet, and that can make for some painful slips or falls. Storing these with any sweat on them will make for a stinky mat after only a few days, and often the smell doesn’t come out. Take care of your mat, and it will take care of you.
4. Wrist or ankle weights
If you are doing yoga for exercise or weight loss, then you might also want to consider getting wrist or ankle weights to help you speed up the muscle-building process and add some more intensity to your workout. Consult with your instructor before getting these, however, as many instructors will not allow you to wear them. The addition of these weights will make your technique suffer, and to many people, technique is everything. There is some debate among yoga instructors as to whether or not these will be beneficial, and if you are not strong enough, they can damage or strain your muscles.
5. Yoga Ball
You will also probably want a yoga ball at some point. These are large, inflatable plastic balls that people use to enhance their balance, and as a seat for many “workout” exercises like sit-ups. Not all trainers or videos will use these, but some will.
6. Yoga Bolster
Yoga bolsters are long, firm cushions designed to give extra support to your body during restorative yoga poses. They are useful for anyone but are particularly helpful if you are a beginner or if you are practicing yoga during pregnancy. They can also help if you suffer from arthritis, joint pain or lower back pain during yoga.
Most of the time, instructors will tell you what you will need for each session of yoga should you decide to take a class. Always make sure to organize your supplies, and try to bring everything you have with you every time. Plans change, and even though your instructor may have forgotten to tell you to bring your yoga ball to a particular class, others will have brought theirs, and you don’t want to be left out. If you find yourself with a lot of stuff to haul around, you might want to invest in a duffel bag. Personally, I’ve always used that as opposed to a simple mat bag because it can carry more, but there are many people who use both.
People more interested in the spiritual benefits of yoga will want to get a book or two about the history and philosophy of yoga. There are likely to be many options at your local library, or alternatively, you can find many available to you on Amazon. My favorite is Light on Yoga: The Bible of Modern Yoga…, but there are many other options available to you there.
Since yoga originated in India, you may also want to get your hands on translations of ancient Indian texts like The Upanishads or The Bhagavad Gita. While not necessarily about yoga per se, they will give you a solid background to the culture from which yoga originated, and may enhance your practice with a greater understanding of the movements and history.