There’s a heckuvalot of talk about “the best” yoga gear to have in your arsenal. So much, in fact, that when I started my practice just three years ago, I felt intimidated AF about what on earth I should buy. There are SO many options (and a lot of it seems to cost an arm and a leg).
Rest assured, you don’t need to pay out the nose for a whole lot of fancy-shmance gear, particularly as you’re just starting out. That being said, there’s definitely a benefit to paying for the right gear that will stand up to repeated use and last for the long haul.
Here’s a list of the gear I love most that will take you all the way from beginner to pro:
Manduka Pro Yoga Mat – Manduka is a well-established company with a stellar reputation amongst yogis. This is the first mat I purchased (in extra long to suit my 6’1″ height), and it’s still my go-to even as I add more to my collection. A lightweight option that is easily carried from car or bike to class, the Manduka Pro is also surprisingly supportive, offering ample cushion and stability (my wife, who prefers cushy mats, often steals it for her yoga classes).
The best feature, though, by far is the way this mat handles over time – with repeated use, it becomes stickier and stickier, even with regular washing. I like to say it “cures well.” Try it and see what I mean! Sidenote: Manduka has a super cool feature on their website that will guide you through choosing the mat that’s best for you. Try it here.
Manduka Yogitoes Yoga Towel – I don’t know about you, but I sweat buckets when I practice. I originally purchased this towel for use in my hot yoga classes, as the rubbery texturing on the bottom helps immensely with grip. But now I take this baby to each and every class I take. Plus, they come in a wide variety of cool prints, colors, and patterns to satisfy your inner yogi.
Round Bolster – This item doesn’t have to be Manduka brand. I’m sure you can find a perfectly good option at Target or Walmart if you prefer. But I loooove bolsters. So much, in fact, that I created an entire bolster-based class for my students. Bolsters are awesome for helping to ease you into difficult positions for a prolonged period of time, increasing the stretch while offering comfort and support. My wife loved it for reclined butterfly pose (supta baddha konasana) during the last few months of pregnancy.
Yoga Block – Again, this absolutely doesn’t need to be Manduka brand. You can find yoga blocks pretty much anywhere. And they’re a great tool to have in your arsenal. I bought two -one for each hand- to help provide support in difficult yoga poses like standing split (urdvha prasarita eka padasana) or half moon pose (ardha chandrasana). They’re also awesome for neck and back support in relaxing positions such as supported fish pose (matsyasana).
Yoga Strap – Another item available almost anywhere (can you tell I’m a little biased toward Manduka?), a yoga strap is a fantastic (and inexpensive!) purchase, especially for beginners. This helpful tool can be used to deepen the stretch in various poses such as bow (dhanurasana), seated forward fold (paschimottanasana), and many others where you find it difficult to extend your reach. A definite must-have item!
Let me say again, you can find all of this gear at various sporting outlets, big box stores, or on good old Amazon.com. If you’re pinching your pennies (and who isn’t these days?), I’d say the one item in which you’ll want to invest big bucks is your mat. It’s a multi-functional tool that will take you all the way from beginner to pro, provided you get one built to last.
And for crying out loud, have fun with it – all of these tools come in a variety of fun colors, prints, and patterns. Yoga is all about expressing yourself, and that extends to your gear. Find another brand you absolutely can’t live without? Let me know! I’m always looking for good recommendations.