As soon as Santa may be stopping by soon, a few yogis have ask about recommendations for equipment. I love the fact that you don't need lots of fancy equipment for yoga, but props can be really helpful to support and progress your practice and poses. It's useful to consider the following equipment for classes. Please note- I am not sponsored by any of the recommendations made. It’s simply my experience of using equipment and a selection from what I have brought and found useful!
The essential bits!
I would suggest a yoga mat, yoga blocks and a yoga strap. These three props are really the ‘go-to’ starting pieces.
Alternatives: A thick towel (yoga mat), a thick small hardback book (yoga block), or a dressing gown cord/long belt (yoga strap) work well instead.
The extra bits!
If you are practicing yoga regularly having a bolster, eye pillow/bag and a myofascial release ball can be helpful for practice but not essential.
Alternatives: Bolster- large rolled up towel, eye pillow/bag- small hand towel or scarf, myofascial release ball – tennis ball
Yoga mat suggestions
Benefits: It may seem obvious but having a physical yoga mat not only allows us to grip better, and avoid hard cold floors, it also helps us mentally to find our 'space'. Even just rolling out my mat reminds me that it's time to just breathe!
The best mat that doesn’t break the bank for me has been from yoga studio store. This is what I use for teaching classes. Its a good all rounder- it is sticky (made from PVC foam) , so sticks well to carpet and laminate/wood floors. Its generally soft (4.5mm thickness, or 6mm mat for £23.95) for lying work. Comes in lots of different colours and easy to transport. It rolls out really well, even if it’s been rolled up for a while!
Myga are a brand which do reasonably priced yoga equipment and this mat is a good one for beginners. It comes in lots of different colours and is easy to roll up and light.
Lifeforme – from £100 (Tip- look on ebay!)
Lifeforme mats are expensive, but they are by far the mat with the most grip. The design is based around having visual prompts (markers for positioning hands and feet) which are on all the mats. They are heavier to transport around but do come in an easy travel bag with a strap to carry your bag over your shoulder. I didn’t pay full price for mine so have a look on ebay second hand for one!
Yoga block suggestions
Benefits: Yoga blocks are really helpful for supporting poses, taking the pressure off the lower back and legs and bringing the grounded closer to you so you don’t have to stretch as far! Blocks can be firm or soft and come in different sizes and shapes so it very much is based around personal preference.
Foam blocks are your starting block to use if you are relatively new to yoga. You do not need to pay a lot for them but they are softer to use and easy to help support poses. Having two is really beneficial as in poses it can help to have more than one at a time for comfort. Foam blocks are better for standing poses, sitting on and for cushioning at the knees and ankles
Cork block- Cork blocks are much firmer and generally a little more expensive than foam blocks (also more eco friendly!). They assist more with active support for harder poses such as planks or standing poses where something with a high density is needed. Natural cork also increases in grip as you sweat, so hands do not slip.
Longer and thinner blocks- These blocks are slightly longer (30-31cm length, compared to 23cm for a standard yoga block/brick). These can be helpful for sitting on to help support under the hips (see picture to the right!).
Benefits: Straps are helpful for assisting stretching particularly the legs (hamstrings) and can be useful to help achieve more difficult balance poses or postures. Most straps come the same length (around 2.5m in length) with a buckle at the end.
The extra bits!
(Not essential but very nice to have)
Eye bags can come scented (usually lavender) and normally are made of linseed which can allow them to be warmed up for a few seconds in the microwave. They are really nice at the end of class for relaxation, or in a more relaxed class such as yin or restorative yoga. They can also be placed on the palms to allow a sense of heaviness and relaxation into the hands during savasana.
Benefit: Bolsters are great for a yin/restorative yoga class, where you are holding poses for longer and need more support around the joints. They are the most expensive prop to buy but they are worth it if you are practicing yoga regularly. I also use mine to sit on in the morning as do I some meditation or breath work. A word of warning they can be fairly heavily and not always very easy to transport.
Come and join me in the new year for my yin/relaxation class starting Wednesday 5th January 7.30-8.30pm!
Alternatives: Roll up a large towel, or roll up another yoga mat and place a towel over it
Myofasical release ball Acupoint from amazon (X2 for £9.99)
Myofasical release balls are fab for working into tight muscles and releasing tension. There’s LOTS of ways to use them for the upper body, lower body, even the back of the neck. The balls need to be firm (soft and spongy don’t work well). Having them in a bag like the one above helps to contain the balls when you are using both of them together.
Alternative: X2 tennis balls and a sock to put them in
Blankets – soft fleece throw works well!
It may seem simple but having a good blanket for yoga can really help in savasana (relaxation). Especially if you will be joining me for Yoga Nidra (guided relaxation) class which starts online from Sunday 9th January next year from 8-8.45pm. A simple fleece throw isn’t too bulky to pack away and bring to class, and can be rolled up well to support under the head and knees too.
Happy Christmas shopping and look forward to seeing you in class soon!