Updated: Mar 31
Yoga for me has been a game changer in terms of my mental, emotional and spiritual health. Most people in the western world, often turn to it primarily for improving their flexibility and reducing pain in their bodies only to find the other benefits that come along with it. I see the huge benefits that clients feel from their first class to their 50th class.
But i also get, that starting yoga or anything new for that matter can seem daunting and knowing what you do or don't need is a bit confusing. So, I thought I would take you through the options and explain where you may want to start and when you might want to start adding equipment as necessary. But before I go into that, how did I start and what would I recommend you do to start and not give up.
I initially started my practice with a ten min routine in the morning. I would have my mat rolled out by my bed and literally roll onto it in the morning and practice. I had no option to make excuses. I used YouTube like everyone does these days and started off with a basic 10 practice. I would do this every morning. I would start to build up my practice and being a typical Aries, I like quite a dynamic (vinyasa style) movement practice, but of course that isn't for everyone, the option for more restorative, yin or hatha movement might be more your cup of tea. This is a great way to build up your confidence for a class. As for some, a class environment can feel somewhat intimidating (despite it being a beginners class!) we all have those moments of self doubt.
Getting into a class is a great way to learn the asana practice of yoga more safely and correctly and you should also learn elements of mantra, meditation and chanting. You will also soon realise you are not alone and you have the added benefit of meeting like-minded individuals who become great accountability yoga friends. Alternatively, getting some private tuition to boost your confidence in attending a class might be another option.
So, what do you need to practice?
Initially just a mat is enough and perhaps a couple of blocks. If you have issues with your knees a blanket or a thick knee pad for your knees can be useful. There is a temptation to buy a nice thick mat,,,unfortunately the only problem with that, is you will find the mat will slip across the floor and likely stretch as you go into your warriors (which can make for some interesting positions you weren't planning on!)
For those looking for top of the range mat, it has to be the Liforme Original Mat the go to mat for most professional yogi's and practitioners alike
For those who are looking for a decent mat without the price tag of a Liforme then the Yogi Bare Paws Mat is ideal. Clients love this mat for its non slip surface and heavy duty wear and tear.
I also use in my studio the Toplus TPE Eco Friendly Mats in my class. These have been brilliant as a budget entry mat and ideal if you are just starting your practice and want a little extra cushioning as well as the benefit of non slip.
When I first started out doing yoga, I bought some cheap foam blocks, primarily because, well a) they were cheap and b) i thought they'd be kinder on my hands. But after my teacher training in India where we used wooden blocks, I appreciated the sturdiness and actually far better support a solid block brings. Cork blocks are something of a compromise between the two. I use them in my classes because they are naturally antibacterial but also because they are sturdy but also slightly lighter than a wooden block but strong enough to support your whole body giving you the confidence to perform and practice poses.
Blocks can help everyone from beginner to advance and I highly recommend getting a pair, because even on those not so great days having a pair of blocks to perform a gentler form of yoga is bliss!
If you do suffer from painful knees/elbows then you may wish to invest in a kneeling pad (I would generally recommend this for those who suffer from arthritis or extreme pain in the joints (if you are generally just a bit stiff and need to improve movement then you probably don't need this)
As you build up your practice and you start to focus on deepening your practice either in the literal sense (backbends/arm balances/deeper poses like splits) then a D ring strap will probably be required to help support your practice.
Alternative, you may be deepening your practice in a restorative sense so the use of a bolster (I love the Basaho bolsters as they keep their shape and apprently they will even send you refills when they get a bit, although mine have yet to do that!) as well as cushions and blankets.
Yoga wear wise is entirely down to you. I love Queenie Ke (amazing leggings that don't roll down and more importantly are high waisted keeping everything in!) and CRZ Yoga for their tops and if you have a bit more money to spend then Sweaty Betty (who do a really gorgeous all in one jumpsuit ) or LuluLemon (never seem to disappoint on the leggings front!) are also great options.
Ultimately though, its about you, on a mat, just being present in that moment for you. Start small and open your mind and your heart to new possibilities. This is where you will learn the most from Yoga in all its forms not just Asana.
I promise you wont be disappointed.
However you start, just start.
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