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Yoga Equipment Guide for Beginners
    When you first start doing yoga, it's hard to know what you really need to buy. The

yoga mat continues to develop so much

clothing and equipment that you might feel you need to spend hundreds of dollars before

ever stepping foot in a studio.
    The good news is, you actually need very little to get started. That said, if

you're starting a home practice, or you'd feel better purchasing yoga-specific

apparel and equipment prior to your first class, here's what you need to know.
    It should go without saying that most aerial yoga accessories want you to wear something to class, but you

don't need scores of printed yoga pants or designer gear to be accepted by your peers.

Start with the comfortable, breathable athletic apparel you already have on hand, and

purchase mid-level basics for anything you're missing. 
    Pants or Shorts: You can't go wrong with a few pairs of solid-color yoga pants in

black, dark grey, navy, or brown. You can mix-and-match these tights with a wide variety of

tops, and if you purchase high-quality options, they can last a long time.
    If tight pants aren't your thing, look for jogger-style pants or the popular

harem-style pants that have elastic around the ankles. These pants are stretchy and offer a

little extra room, but due to the ankle elastic, they'll stay in place throughout your

practice.
    Shorts are a popular option for guys, and they're also appropriate for women,

especially if you plan to try hot yoga. Just keep in mind, you may want to wear form-

fitting spandex shorts or looser shorts with connected tights underneath because some poses

require you to position your legs in a way that could leave you uncomfortably uncovered

with looser, running-style shorts. 
    Tops: It's important to wear tops that are fairly form-fitting so your shirt

doesn't fly over your head during forward bends. Wicking material is helpful,

especially if you tend to sweat a lot or if you plan on attending a hot yoga class.
    Because yoga rooms are sometimes kept cool, you may want to bring a light cover up or

sweater with you to class. You can wear it until class starts, and if you keep it by your

mat, you can put it on before the final savasana.
    Sports Bras: If you're a woman, make sure you wear a sports bra. While

TPE yoga mat tends to be

a low-impact activity, a decent sports bra can help keep your "girls" in place as

you transition between poses, making your practice more comfortable.
    Hair Ties or Headbands: Whether you're a man or woman, if you have long hair, you

need to secure it in place before you start class to prevent stray locks from falling in

your eyes and face. A basic hair tie or headband should do the trick.
    Yoga Socks: To be clear, yoga socks are not a requirement to attend a class. In fact,

it's preferable to do yoga barefoot. That said if you can't fathom the thought of

taking your socks and shoes off in front of strangers, invest in a pair of yoga socks with

grips on the bottom so you can keep your feet covered while maintaining good traction.

Standard socks absolutely won't do, as you'll end up slipping and sliding all over

your mat.
    These days, you can buy yoga apparel practically anywhere, and it's not unusual to

see yoga pants priced at over $100. Don't feel you need to lay out that much cash for a

single pair of pants! Target, Amazon, and YogaOutlet offer quality options for well under

$50. Buy a couple pairs of pants and a few tops, and you'll be set for months.
    As you commit yourself to your practice, you may decide to add trendy prints or styles

to your wardrobe.
    In gyms and yoga studios, it’s commonplace to use a yoga mat, also called a sticky

mat. The mat helps define your personal space, and, more importantly, it creates traction

for your hands and feet so you don’t slip, especially as you get a little sweaty. The mat

also provides a bit of cushioning on a hard floor.
    Most gyms provide mats and studios have them for rent, usually for a dollar or two per

class. This is fine for your first few classes, but the disadvantage to these mats is that

lots of people use them and you can't be sure how often they're being cleaned, so

you may consider buying your own.
    Premium yoga mats can be expensive, often around $80 to $120, but it's possible to

find a starter mat for as little as $20 from retailers like Target and Amazon. Just keep in

mind, if you decide to buy a cheaper mat, you'll probably find yourself replacing it in

short order if you use it often. If you're really ready to commit to a yoga practice,

your mat is one place it's worth it to lay out some cash.
    Decide which mat features are important to you—for instance, length, thickness,

material, durability, comfort, traction, or how to keep it clean—then buy a mat with good

reviews based on your needs. Manduka and Lululemon are known for the quality of their Pro

Mat and The Reversible Mat, respectively, but other brands, including Jade and Yellow

Willow, also offer high-quality, durable mats with good traction and support.
    Yoga props are a boon to a fledgling suede yoga mat practice. Props allow students to maintain the

healthiest alignment in a range of poses as the body bends, twists, and opens up. They also

help you get the most out of each pose while avoiding injury.1
    You should familiarize yourself with the props described below, but you don't need

to buy your own (unless you're starting a home practice) because they are almost always

provided by studios and gyms. 
    Mat Bags or Slings
    If you own your own yoga mat, and you're going to be lugging it back and forth to

the studio on a regular basis, there's a legitimate case to be made for purchasing a

mat bag or sling. These accessories do exactly what they suggest—they make it easy for you

to sling your rolled mat over your shoulder without it coming unrolled.
    Slings usually use velcro straps to bind your mat in its rolled configuration with a

connecting strap you can throw over your shoulder. Slings sometimes offer additional

pockets for storage, but not always. Bags, on the other hand, typically come in one of two

styles. One version uses velcro straps to keep your rolled mat secure against a larger gym

bag. The other version is essentially a snap- or zipper-closure bag specifically designed

to hold your rolled mat. Both styles provide extra storage for clothing, wallets, cell

phones, and the like.
    The style and brand you choose really comes down to personal preference and budget, as

slings can cost as little as $10, and heavy-duty bags can cost well over $100. For variety,

check out YogaOutlet, where you can find an array of brands at reasonable prices.
    Blankets
    Yoga studios usually have stacks of blankets available for students to use during

class. Grab one or two blankets at the beginning of class.
    Folded blankets can be used to lift the hips during seated poses, or to offer support

during lying poses. For instance, when you sit cross-legged, you can place a blanket under

your sit bones to elevate the hips above your knees. Blankets come in handy for all sorts

of things during class, and if it’s chilly, you can use them to cover up during the final

relaxation.
    For a home practice, there's truly no reason to purchase new blankets. Simply use

what you already have on hand around the house. If, however, you don't own any extra

blankets, YogaOutlet offers them for as little as $13.
    Blocks
    Like blankets, yoga blocks are used to make you more comfortable and improve your

alignment. Blocks are particularly useful for standing poses in which your hands are

supposed to be on the floor.
    Placing a block under your hand has the effect of "raising the floor" to meet

your hand rather than forcing the hand to come to the floor while effectively compromising

some other part of the pose. This can be seen in half moon pose. Many people don't have

the hamstring flexibility or core strength to hold the position with proper form.
    By placing a block under the hand that's reaching toward the floor, it's easier

to keep the chest open and torso strong. Without the block, the chest might be inclined to

turn toward the floor, the supporting knee might be inclined to bend, and the torso might

be inclined to "collapse." The simple use of the block helps maintain proper

alignment.
    Yoga blocks are made of foam, wood, or cork. They can be turned to stand at three

different heights, making them very adaptable. If you plan to do a lot of

swivel at home

it's worth it to get a set of blocks (helpful for poses where both hands are reaching

toward the ground). If you're going to attend classes, blocks will be provided for you.
    The good news is, almost any block is sufficient, so this is an area you don't have

to worry too much about scrimping on. But slightly wider blocks—those that are at least

four-inches wide—provide better stability. YogaOutlet and Amazon offer several sizes and

styles for under $10 each. If you're willing to pay a little more, Yoga Hustle offers

some fun options for $24 a pop.
    Straps
    Yoga straps, also called belts, are particularly useful for poses where you need to

hold onto your feet but cannot reach them. The strap basically acts as an arm extender. For

instance, in pascimottanasana, if you can't reach your feet with your hands in the

seated forward fold, you can wrap the strap around the bottom of your feet and hold onto

the strap to maintain a flat back instead of slumping forward.
    Straps are also great for poses where you bind your hands behind the back

(marichyasana, for example). If your shoulders don't allow enough flexibility for the

bind, you can use a strap to "connect" both hands without excess strain. And with

the strap's help, you can move your hands toward each other over time to make progress

toward the full bind.
    You probably have something around your house that would work as a strap (like a belt

or even a towel) and yoga studios supply them for use during class. That said, if you

really want to buy an official version, it's hard to beat the price of YogaOutlet,

where you can find straps for under $10.
    Bolsters
    Bolsters have many uses for yoga students. You can use them in place of a stack of

blankets to make seated and forward bending poses more comfortable. You can place them

under your knees or your back when reclining for support and passive stretching. They are

particularly handy in restorative and prenatal yoga classes. If you take this type of

class, the bolsters will be provided. If you want to do restorative yoga at home, it may be

worth it to invest in your own bolster.
    The are two basic bolster shapes: round and flat (more of a rectangular shape). Flat

bolsters tend to be more ergonomic; however, round bolsters can be useful when you want

more support or a deeper stretch. It comes down to personal preference.
    If you have the option, use both styles in class before you decide which one best suits

your home practice. Amazon is the best place to shop for sheer variety and price, but if

you want a pretty bolster, check out Hugger Mugger, Inner Space, or Chattra. The prices are

in line with the marketplace ($40 to $80), and the designs are bright and beautiful.
    Wheels
    Yoga wheels are a relatively new prop starting to gain a foothold in the yoga studio.

These wheels are roughly 12-inches in diameter and are about four-inches wide. When set

upright, you can lie back on the wheel or place a foot or hand on top of the wheel to

deepen your stretches and enhance flexibility, slowly rolling the wheel farther as you

relax into each stretch. Wheels can also be used in more advanced practices as a way to

challenge stability or to offer support during challenging poses.
    While it's unlikely that you'll need a yoga wheel as a beginner, you may want

to consider a purchase down the line. Most wheels range in price from $40 to $60. Yoga

Design Lab, for instance, offers one for $48.

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