When I started practicing yoga I had nothing but my pink $7 yoga mat and some DVDs I ordered online. I didn’t even know what a block might be used for, how a strap has many functions, or what a yoga wheel could do for me.
I practiced for years with just my yoga mat, oblivious to the fact that yoga props can make a profound impact on your practice.
The few times I was faced with having to use a yoga block at a studio I thought, “I don’t need a block!”. I felt offended by the item, rather than embracing the extra support. I soon learned that I actually (to this day) prefer a block in many poses and yoga straps are the bomb.com.
I constantly have students ask me questions like,
“Do I need a strap/block/wheel/bolster”
“Should I have one block or two?”
“What about mat towels and yoga socks and mat bags?”
I’ve also heard,
“I don’t want to buy all of this stuff if I don’t know how to use it”
“Can I learn first and then get the props I might need?”
“I don’t want to feel embarrassed because I need a block/strap during a class!”
Looking back on my own resistance with this stuff I smile and let my students know that props are YOUR FRIEND and we should all be using them to explore our practice. Period.
Also, they are worth it. Regardless of if you get yours on sale or buy the fanciest blocks that exists (which isn’t necessary), you’ll be glad you have them!!
So, what are the best and necessary props and the nice-to-have but don’t exactly need to get started?
You will see various opinions on the Internet and a lot of them are swayed by a brand partnerships, like “you must have these pants, they are the best!” *likely a clothing company endorsement* or “this mat is the only mat you should own!!” *likely a mat endorsement*. Be wary and do you research before buying.
Recommended Yoga Props for Beginners (and items you don't need just yet)
This is my honest, unsponsored-list of items you need and might-need for starting a yoga practice, in order of importance:
Must-Have Yoga Props & Equipment
My first yoga mat was a $7 yoga mat I picked up at TJ Maxx. It was great for starting in my basement and practicing on my own terms. But, as soon as I took it to a Bikram yoga class I realized how much I sweat and decided I needed a grippier mat. I then bought my Manduka pro. This one was also great for my home practice and slower, restorative flows. I used this mat daily until I took it to a hot yoga studio where early in the class the teacher gave me a mat towel because I was sliding around like a baby deer learning to walk on ice. Needless to say, I've been working with a business partner to bring an awesome mat to the market that you can actually afford, works with sweat/any practice, and does good in the world! *This is the mat I have now but it is a prototype (a.k.a. not for sale just yet).
A note on mat towels: You will need one if you don't have a grippy mat and sweat a lot. So, it's up to you depending on your personal needs ;)
Advice for purchasing:
- Research online first - Take note of price points you're comfortable with and features that you might be looking for (weight, length, thickness)
- Go to your local sporting goods store or yoga boutique and touch the mats! Feel there top coat and weight.
- Then, decide whether you’ll purchase from a local store or online.
*You can also do mat rentals at studios and “test-drive” them that way
You need them. Two of them. Sizes, shapes, designs, and material differ so do you research here too. Foam blocks are the most common but you will also see cork and plastic blocks. I have all of the above. The foam blocks are the most comfortable, lightest in weight, and easiest to use during practice. They are also usually the least expensive.
Yoga straps are great for getting into poses that you can’t quite reach for yet (dancer pose, extended knee/toe raise, king pigeon, and so on). Straps can also be used as a mat strap (no need for a yoga mat bag then, huh?). That’s how I use mine. I loop and knot it to be used as my mat sling and then take it off, unroll my mat, and practice. This way I have it with me and it helps keep my mat rolled up in between.
Nice-to-Have Yoga Props & Equipment
Bolsters are wonderful to have if you’re going to have a regular home practice. I use mine daily for different reasons. But, if you are going to a studio that has bolsters then I wouldn’t think it necessary to buy one as you’re getting started.
A yoga wheel is wonderful for opening your shoulders and chest, practicing inversions, and learning new “tricks”. I didn’t get a yoga wheel until a few years into my practice and I still don’t use it as often as I thought I would. They are a little pricey and definitely not necessary for practice. If you want one (like everything else) do you research before you buy : )
A note on yoga clothes:
This is a very subjective and personal matter (oddly enough). You can find good yoga clothing from $10 - $200 depending on where you look. I think the most important thing is to make sure you are comfortable in your clothing (seriously, like make sure they fit and you’re not constantly pulling and adjusting throughout your practice). Whatever you need to buy and wear to limit your distractions is up to you. I do recommend doing some research on actual clothing companies before buying from them. believe this should be thought about in all purchases, but want to emphasize here too :)
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