Fitness,  Yoga and Meditation

Yoga Essentials

As I start my fitness journey, yoga is one of the practices that I have started to increase my strength and flexibility. I first started by taking classes at my fitness club. We have all seen pictures of beautiful and fit people doing yoga. Well, that is not reality. Yoga classes consist of people of all shapes, sizes, and ages. You do not have to be flexible to start. You will become more flexible as you continue your practice. Isn’t that one of the reasons you started? I have a friend who just turned eighty, and she is still very flexible after years of yoga. Most yoga studios provide the necessary equipment; you can even borrow a mat. But as your practice broadens, you will need to purchase some essentials. 

Essentials:

1. Comfortable Clothes

Comfortable clothes are the number one essential. Again we see those images of people in tight yoga pants and workout bras. But you don’t have to wear yoga pants; you can wear loose-fitting clothes as long as you can move and bend in them. Sometimes when I work out at home, I do so in my pajamas

2. Yoga Mat

The next piece of essential equipment is your yoga mat. Yoga mats come in various styles, sizes, materials, and thicknesses. Finding the perfect yoga mat can be like searching for a pair of shoes, and it might take some time to determine the perfect mat for your unique style of practice. The standard yoga mat measures 68 inches long and 24 inches wide, but the right mat for you may differ. My mat is a more extended size because I am tall and do not like my feet off the mat. But it is just a preference. Your yoga mat thickness should be dependent on the type of surface you’re practicing on. Go with a softer, thicker mat when you practice on hard surfaces, and shift to your thin travel mat when you’re on the carpet. Experiment with a few thicknesses to see which mat you prefer. 

3. Hand towels

It’s often the last thing we think of when buying yoga accessories, but once you use one, you will wonder how you ever did without it.
To experience the full benefits of yoga, practitioners must hold the poses during workouts without slipping. A yoga towel can help, enabling you to dry your hands, feet, and other body parts that become moist and sweaty Yoga towels are also helpful, especially during sweaty practices, as they prevent sweat from dripping all over your mat, keeping your mat clean and preventing slipping and getting injured. These are my favorites.

4. Water bottle

A water bottle is always a good thing to have on hand during exercise, especially a more strenuous workout. Since yoga is a practice of concentration, it is best not to interrupt the flow of the class. So maybe the best time to drink water is before and after. But of course, you do not want to drink too much before class because it could lead to you having to get up in the middle. If you are taking a more active class, you will want to have access to a drink soon after. You can consume several ounces of water after your practice to replenish the water that your muscles have consumed or that you have sweated out during class.

Home practice essentials: 

5. Yoga Straps

Yoga Strap

No matter your level of experience, a yoga strap (or belt) can be helpful in your practice. They aid you in reaching challenging poses and, over time, will help you increase your flexibility and alignment. The most common and significant benefit of using a yoga strap is that it can help you deepen stretches, promoting better flexibility and range of motion over time. Sometimes, it’s hard to hold a specific yoga pose or maintain proper alignment, particularly if you’re inflexible or have muscle tightness or joint stiffness. In this way, yoga straps make yoga poses more obtainable. Yoga straps can also assist in your balance. You can modify certain poses with a yoga strap to make them easier to hold. I purchased these and have had them for years.

6. Yoga Blocks

Yoga Block

Many people do not realize just how vital yoga blocks are and, therefore, completely disregard them in their practice. Whether a beginner or a long-time yogi, yoga blocks are a great tool to use and can greatly benefit your practice. Yoga blocks are often said to bring the floor closer to you. If a pose calls for you to touch your hands to the ground, for example, and you’re not quite flexible enough to do so, you can reach for the top of a yoga block instead. If you keep practicing with the block, eventually, you can get the pose exactly right, and you will no longer need its support. These yoga blocks come in several different colors.

7. Yoga blankets

Yoga Blanket

Blankets can be rolled or folded up in a variety of ways during yoga to keep pressure off your knees, back, or feet or to help you support your body in deep stretching poses. But the most common way to use a blanket in yoga is covering yourself with the blanket in Savasana to stay warm and cozy. And if your blanket is a bit heavy, feeling some pressure on your body can help you relax even more in this pose. You can purchase them here.

8. Music

Finding focus is easy in a perfect world. You close your eyes, and boom – a state of total concentration. Unfortunately, in the real world, finding focus takes work. We need the right environment to minimize distractions. Switching your focus from daily responsibilities to your yoga practice is the opposite of easy. Music can be a bridge that leads us to the inner focus and helps us stay in the present moment. It serves as a constant that we can always return to if our mind starts to wonder.

9. Candles, incent, or essential oil

Lighting incense or candles during yoga sessions helps you create the right atmosphere for your body and mind. And unpleasant odors can lead to distraction. It disturbs the focus of the mind and affects the session in the wrong way. Lighting incense or candles during such sessions helps you to block such discomforting odors and uplifts the mood helping you reach Zen. But if you are sensitive or even allergic to the smoke of incense or the scent of candles, you can always spray essential oils in the room.

10. Bolster

Yoga Bolster

A bolster is particularly helpful for beginners and those with limited mobility as it provides additional support throughout each posture. A yoga bolster helps to ease the pain by providing the body with correct alignment. The prop can be used in a variety of different positions, with some of the most popular being below the knees, hips, neck, and legs. If you are feeling stressed or tired, spending a few minutes in a restorative yoga pose can really help you to relax. When a bolster is used as a support during a restorative pose, it stimulates the nervous system to relieve stress on a deeper level. The prop will allow you to truly relax while still keeping your body supported and aligned.

11. Teacher

The teacher is responsible for demonstrating and guiding the students through a series of poses in a safe and understandable way. If you’re completely new to yoga or you have very little experience, you’ll reap the benefits of having a yoga instructor. While some poses may look simple, they may not be the ones right for you, and a yoga instructor can show you how to modify the pose to your unique needs. A yoga teacher will help keep your body aligned while you are practicing new poses. Once you have become a more experienced yogi, then you can start a practice at home at your own pace or by trying to use a yoga video. 

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