If you’ve decided to add the practice of yoga to your workout routine but aren’t sure where to get started or how to prepare, you’ve come to the right place. There are lots of different schools of thought as to what is absolutely essential to a successful yoga practice. This article will review some proven tips to help you get started, and list the props, equipment, and accessories most commonly used and recommended by yoga teachers. By the time we conclude, you should feel ready to confidently attend your first yoga class.
What this article covers:
How can I begin practicing yoga?
Why do I need these yoga props?
7 essential yoga props and equipment to get started
How to use your yoga equipment
Final thoughts on yoga props
How Can I Begin Practicing Yoga?
Starting anything new can be intimidating. The beauty of yoga is that you truly can come as you are. There is no need to buy an endless assortment of equipment to have an amazing flow. Yoga teachers welcome newcomers at all levels, especially if you’re attending a beginner-level class. Depending on your body’s needs and flexibility level, however, there are a few yoga props you’ll want to start with.
The benefits of yoga are vast, but one of the top reasons people practice yoga is that it helps improve flexibility. For anyone new to yoga, being able to really sink into a pose and improve your range of motion will require the use of a few strategic yoga props. The goal here is to focus on tools to enhance your yoga practice. You’ll find that props aren’t only used by beginners. In fact, many advanced-level yogis rely on yoga props to help adjust their alignment and maintain the integrity of the pose and their flow.
Why Do You Need Yoga Props and Equipment?
It’s simple: many yoga props and accessories were designed by yogis for yogis. Yoga can be traced back 5,000 years and, as the practice has been honed and developed, accessories have been developed to aid aspiring and die-hard yogis alike. These items can help you deepen and settle into poses without falling over or causing unnecessary strain. The right yoga props help you have a more effective, whole-body experience during yoga. Also, when used properly, they can help protect you from injury. Props help safeguard you from overextension or being thrown out of alignment.
7 Essential Yoga Props and Equipment to Get Started
All of the props recommended below are designed to make your yoga practice better, enhance your stretches and improve your flow.
Yoga apparel: What should you wear to yoga? You don’t have to go out and buy anything too complicated in order to attend a yoga class. You’ll want to wear clothing you can easily move in, like leggings and a breathable top. Some yogis prefer tighter-fitting activewear as it keeps everything in place for inversions, while others feel like their movements are more free with looser-fit clothing. Just make sure that whatever you wear allows expansive yet comfortable movements, rather than restricting how you move. You should plan on being barefoot for your practice, so no special footwear is needed.
Yoga strap: The yoga strap is a tool you can use to increase your range of motion and deepen your stretches. It will be especially helpful as a beginner, because you might not be ready to execute some of the more popular yoga binds, and a strap will help you have more reach. And at the end of your class, as you’re stretching your legs and hamstrings during your restorative poses, your strap will be a lifesaver.
Yoga wheel: This is a tool that can be used at home to help you stretch out any tension or soreness in your back, shoulders, and hips. It will help improve your posture and flexibility as well.
Yoga blocks: Yoga blocks (or yoga bricks, as they are sometimes called) are a favorite tool among yogis and yoga teachers. They're perfect for beginners who want to deepen their poses but can’t quite reach the floor without straining or losing proper alignment in a pose. They can help you safely deepen and breathe into your stretches and keep you from losing your balance.
Yoga mat: This is essential. Your yoga mat will help with your grip and cushion your body, particularly when you’re lying flat on the floor. Thankfully, yoga mats are portable, easy to clean, and easy to store.
Yoga blanket: This is not a required piece of yoga gear, per se, but lots of yogis like to bring along special blankets to roll under the knees, hips, or neck for extra support during certain poses. You might also like to use it for warmth during Savasana, which will be your final resting pose, to aid in your overall relaxation.
Yoga pillow: You might like having a yoga pillow to help support your hips during seated postures, or to place under your knees to protect your lower back while lying flat on the floor. Having just a bit of extra cushioning can make all the difference in protecting and aligning your spine during your yoga practice.
How to Use Your Yoga Equipment
Here are a few more details about how you’ll want to use some of the above yoga props—especially those that may not be intuitive, such as a yoga strap, wheel, and blocks.
How to use your yoga strap: You can use your yoga strap in a variety of poses. Some of the more popular times to use a strap are during seated or reclined stretches. Loop the strap around the foot of whichever leg you're stretching and hold on to your strap instead of your leg or calf, to help pull the leg more closely to your torso without creating too much strain or tension. Yoga straps are also a great tool for standing postures, like Dancer Pose. You can loop the strap around your foot and hold onto the strap, instead of reaching for your foot. This will help you maintain your core balance and alignment while you deepen the pose.
How to use your yoga wheel: Yoga wheels are popular for back and shoulder stretches. Drape your body across the yoga wheel, making sure your spine is aligned with the center of the wheel, then lay back, allowing gravity to pull the crown of your head to the floor while your back curves around the yoga wheel. Let yourself breathe into this position as you stretch your back and shoulders. You could even challenge yourself to stay draped over the wheel for a bit and relax your muscles, body, and mind with eye pillows and calming music—allowing you to turn your yoga wheel inversion into a meditation.
How to use your yoga blocks: Use your yoga blocks in any position where it's difficult to reach the floor, like Triangle Pose or Half Moon. This will help you keep your core muscles tight and help take the pressure off your lower back and legs. You can also use yoga blocks to assist with lifting your feet off the floor as you prepare for a headstand or Crow Pose, to baby-step your way to completely lifting off from the floor. Yoga blocks are NOT just for beginners. Some of the most established yogis use yoga blocks to challenge their posture and deepen their practice.
Final Thoughts on Yoga Props
Hopefully by now you have all of the props and equipment knowledge you need to go forth and attend your first Peloton yoga class with confidence. It’s important to know that you can trust your body to tell you exactly what you need to complete the practice without strain or discomfort. And, if you’re still searching for a class to try, you can check out some of Peloton’s most popular yoga instructors.
Remember that perfecting your yoga game takes time. Your body’s flexibility and range of motion will continue to improve as long as you commit to rolling out your mat and moving through your flows as often as possible. While you’re doing that, don’t be afraid to embrace the various yoga props and tools available to assist you. Before long, you’ll be head over heels in love with your yoga practice.
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