I developed an interest in yoga around 2009 and tested out a ton of instructors before I was ready to fully commit to a consistent practice. Now, it physically pains me to miss my weekly classes. But since one of the beauties of yoga is that you don’t need a class or instructor to practice, I’ll share with you a few things I keep nearby that help me ensure some undistracted time on my mat.
7 Yoga Must-Haves:
- A yoga mat – duh! I find great selections of durable and affordable mats at stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls. The trick here is finding one that provides some traction, is thick enough that you don’t feel the floor beneath you, but thin enough that it doesn’t interfere with your stability during balancing poses. For starters, 1/8 inch is a standard thickness to look for.
- Yoga shoes or socks – I totally lucked up a year ago when I was able to track down a shoe store that still carried the complete Nike Studio Wrap Pack 4 (the ‘wrap’ provides toeless traction, the ‘flat’ is a slip on shoe that fits over the wrap for you to wear them around town). But if you find yourself slipping during downward dog or in your transitions, anything similar to these can keep you moving without breaking your concentration.
- Knee pad- Lunges can be hard on the knees so this easy-to-pack pad provides some extra cushion as needed. Another one of those tools that keeps you in the zone without getting lost in your thoughts of ‘ouch’ and ‘I thought yoga was painless’.
- Eye cover – the orange sarong pictured above is one that I got from a Balinese temple that I’ve since been using to cover my eyes during shavasana.
- Yoga block – these are especially helpful for beginners, injured yogis, and expectant mothers. The block keeps you from forcing yourself down in an effort to reach your toes and are also great for propping and balance.
- Travel bag – since I never know what my body will bring to the mat, I like to have everything with me. This oversized cross-body (courtesy of a random thrift store) is large enough to fit all of my tools (minus the mat itself). It’s especially helpful when I’m running late for yoga class and need to slip into the studio as ambiguously as possible.
- Yoga mat cleaner – these are becoming more popular in stores, but my DIY version works perfectly and smells amazing. Aside from your mat traveling with you to foreign floors, your body brings a few germs with it. To ensure a healthy practice, wipe down your mat at least once every 1-2 weeks depending on how frequently you practice. Find my yoga mat spray recipe here!
The purpose of these tools isn’t to complicate your practice. Yoga is about clearing your mind and connecting with your body, but that can be hard to do if your slipping, straining, or thumping around. By having these tools, you can focus on the only thing that matters on the mat – a peaceful you.