An estimated two billion people worldwide practice yoga.
Why is yoga such a popular activity?
Simple — “because it works.”
Regardless of your reason for practicing, whether that be to gain flexibility, mental clarity, or improve your balance, yoga works if you work it. If you dedicate time to the mat, you’ll reap several amazing benefits of this mental, physical, and spiritual practice.
Are you just beginning your journey?
If so, it helps to have a few essential yoga accessories. Here we’ll explain all the tools you’ll need to have a powerful and effective practice.
A Yoga Mat
It goes without saying that to have a successful practice, you’ll need a mat to do it on.
If you’re dedicated to your yoga journey, you may as well start with a high-quality yoga mat. Because of their excellent quality, yoga mats may come with a higher price tag, too — but the benefits you’ll reap from your practice over time will be priceless.
Mats come in a variety of textures, lengths, thicknesses, and materials. The mat you choose will be determined by your style of practice.
It’s best to get a mat that boasts some slip-resistance, as you’ll likely induce some sweating at times. This is especially true for those who like more intense flows (or classes like hot yoga).
Once you’ve found the perfect mat for you, buying a yoga bag or strap makes transportation more convenient. A strap simply clips around your mat and lays over your shoulder, while a bag fits your whole mat inside.
A Mat Towel
Mat towels aren’t a necessity so much as an option, but they do provide some benefits.
Most yoga mat towels are the same size as your mat, allowing you to cover your mat with a thin layer of absorbent material. This sweat- and moisture-wicking towel will help you to stay grounded during a practice. No more slipping and sliding around when trying more difficult poses.
Mat towels can also be used as a mat (in a pinch), and are especially important for hot yoga or Bikram yoga, where you’re likely to sweat more.
Bonus: they keep your mat from getting perspiration stains!
Yoga Mat Spray
You need some way to clean your mat, so what better method than mat spray?
An unclean mat harbors sweat, bacteria, and nasty germs. While you may not need to clean your mat after every practice, it’s good to do so at least weekly.
Most sprays are made from feel-good, smell-good essential oils. You can buy lavender spray to promote relaxation, or a eucalyptus spray to induce a calming sensation.
Keep your spray on-hand, perhaps by sticking it in a gym bag or even right into your yoga mat bag if it fits!
Yoga blocks are one of the most essential tools you can use in your practice.
Not only do they help in certain poses by bringing the ground closer to you, but they can be used to open up your hips, chest, and more.
If you’re trying to intensify a stretch in a safe way, use a yoga block. Placing your hands on the block allows you to deepen a stretch without causing too much pain or discomfort.
It can also help in difficult balancing poses, such as half-moon pose. Here, your entire body faces one side with one hand reaching for the sky and the other floating above the ground. While you practice perfecting this pose, lay one hand on a block.
They can also be used as openers.
For example, place one near your sacrum to stretch out your lower back. Or place one right between the shoulder blades while lying down with arms outstretched, allowing your heart space to open up.
You can also use blocks to intensify certain poses.
Try using a block on all its different sides during bridge pose. You’ll notice that each width of the block offers a different feeling in your hips and glutes.
A Foam Roller
Foam rollers are an amazing accessory for any type of athlete.
These cylindrical tools allow you to perform a self-myofascial release (SMR). Not only do they help to relieve muscle tightness and soreness, but they can get rid of inflammation or improve your range of motion.
If you’re experiencing any type of pain or tightness, try rolling it out with one of these yoga accessories. Simply lay the pain point gently over the foam roller, pinpointing where it’s tight. Then roll back and forth over the roller to release any tension.
This strap is different from the one we mentioned earlier that holds your bag.
This type of yoga strap gets used to improve and enhance your flexibility.
If you’re laying on your back with legs straight in the air, a strap wrapped around your foot can help you increase your hamstring stretch.
Or if you’re attempting to bind your arms behind your back, you can start slowly by holding a strap behind you with one hand on top, one on the bottom.
One more example — during a seated forward fold, you can wrap the strap around your feet and use it to help you pull your chest closer to your legs.
The options for using a yoga strap are as unique and endless as your practice!
A Bolster or Blanket
These can be used in several ways to improve your practice.
Whether that’s sitting on them in certain poses to protect your back, or kneeling on them to protect your knees, a blanket or bolster helps prevent pain or soreness. Use them whenever you need to bring the ground just a little closer to you.
Additionally, they can be used for comfort during Shavasana.
Get These Om-Mazing Yoga Accessories Today!
Are you ready to start your journey into this ancient yet timeless practice?
If you acquire the above yoga accessories, you’ll be well on your way to having a fulfilling session on your mat.
Of course, at the end of the day, the most important thing to bring to practice is awareness of your body. Come as you are and see what happens.
To get you started with your new accessories, check out this article on restorative sequences fit for every yogi.