If you’re starting out with this wonderful form of exercise, you’ll need a few essentials. We tell you how to go about shopping for yoga gear
Yoga is best known as the age-old exercise to keep mind and body healthy. It helps build strength and flexibility, and it can relieve stress, which means yoga is great when it comes to improving overall physical and mental health. Compared with other activities, yoga doesn’t really require heavy work out gear, and you can do with minimalistic and simple essentials. However, if you’re not practising at a yoga studio (which, in most cases, provides you with the gear you need), you will have to stock up on yoga essentials. Generally, people shop for a yoga mat and basic clothes, so we’re telling you what to look for. But, we’ve also touched upon other gear that you might need.
THE BARE NECESSITIES
For beginners, the right clothing is important. Good clothing won’t pinch or irritate your skin, so you can practise with a peaceful mind. And, you’ll also need the most important item — a yoga mat. Cheaper ones may seem attractive because you’re only beginning to venture into this form of exercise, but they may be itchy, squeaky or too thin, causing your meditative session troubles.
Working on a rug, slippery towel or an overly soft gym cushion can lead to slippage and injury. Most studios offer mats for public use, but if you want to purchase your own, here’s what you should look for.
- Thickness: Yoga mats range from super thin to moderately thick. Thinner ones will wear out more quickly, but they allow better contact with the floor. Thicker mats usually provide more cushioning and are best for restorative or therapeutic practices. Thickness ranges from 1/4 to 1/8 inch (the standard yoga mat), but there are also wafer thin ones (1/16 inch), which are built for travel.
- Material: Standard yoga mats are made of PVC (also called vinyl), and are best for beginners. They are easy to clean, have an excellent grip and can take everyday wear and tear well. Newer materials include TPE (thermoplastic elastomer), which is more environmentally friendly, but not very durable. Other kinds of mats available include rubber, organic cotton and jute ones.
- Texture: This is very important when choosing a yoga mat, but quite difficult to sort through, especially if you’re new to yoga gear. If you have super sensitive skin, stay away from bumpy textures. But, don’t worry too much about this, because there are different kinds of textures for every type of yoga practitioner.
- Style: Here’s one aspect that you don’t have to worry about much. Yoga mats are available in all sorts of colours and designs. Let your personality reflect in your choices.
Not your usual gym attire, yoga gear is usually made from breathable cotton. When buying, remember that your garments may have to cater to a lot of wide-legged poses.
- Comfort: Yoga clothes should be comfortable and fitting. This is largely down to personal preference. But, the definition of comfort extends to allow for ease of movement. You don’t want your sleeves and pant legs to get caught up in twists or underfoot.
- Coverage: The practice of yoga involves several types of stretches and bends, and a variety of challenging poses, so make sure that your yoga wear doesn’t shift too much, so that it isn’t too revealing.
- Stretch: Choosing a stretchable fabric will give you peace of mind and comfort when performing stretches. There are fabrics that allow for 2-way or 4-way stretches. Again, most of it is down to personal preference.
- Fabric: Most yoga clothing is made from moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics that also offer quick-drying comfort, a nice feature especially for enthusiasts of hot yoga. However, these can be itchy and uncomfortable, so opt for a fabric that offers comfort instead.
- Warmth: You may require a soft, flexible, long-sleeve top to keep you warm at the beginning of your class, especially if you are practising in the morning. It should provide you with warmth even after the final relaxation pose.
- Design: Make sure to avoid clothes with zippers or clasps, as they may restrict movement. Clothing with unnecessary bulk around the waist can also restrict your movement, so choose the design carefully.
Other yoga accessories
Apart from a handy yoga mat and clothes, here are other accessories you can shop for to complete your experience.
- Yoga towels: Covering your mat with a full-length towel adds to the longevity of the mat and improves hygiene. These towels come with a grippy surface on one side to keep them from slipping during a session. Most practitioners also prefer to keep a small towel at hand to wipe away sweat during a session.
- Yoga straps or blocks: It is essential to establish the proper alignment during your initial days as this can help you get the most out of your practice. Yoga straps and blocks help newcomers who have limited flexibility to achieve better alignment.
- Yoga bags or slings: You may not really require these, but a yoga bag or a simple lightweight sling is perfect for carrying your yoga essentials. Some bags even offer an additional compartment for towels, accessories and a change of clothes.