When you’re beginning your yoga journey it's hard to know what you really need. With all the guides and “advice” online it’s easy to think you need to spend hundreds before you reach your first Savasana! The reality is you actually need very little and you probably already have everything to get you going for your first classes. Here we’ll guide you through the first steps of your journey and what really are the essentials.
What do you really need?
The journey for all yogis is an individual path. One that starts in many different ways. In this current climate, for lots of us these first steps are being taken at home, in front of an online class or at a local studio. The most important thing you will need for these first classes is an open mind. No one starts a new activity or lifestyle and says from day one it's perfect! It is key to take each experience as it comes. That goes for the yoga style, the teacher and the way you felt that day. Once you have tried a number of different classes you will begin to find how your Yogic path will start.
What we wear is always a conversation. For yoga there is just one rule. Make it comfy. Choose something that YOU are comfortable moving in. If you can squat, plank, bend over and put your hands above your head then you probably have found an outfit that will work for you. Do not be afraid to layer. If you begin to get too hot then take a layer off. Just wear whatever makes you feel empowered and ready to practice.
What to look for in your first yoga mat?
The next thing is our mat. Just like every piece of equipment out there, different mats have different uses for different users. Don’t get too bogged down in the details when trying to find your first mat. Be humble in your beginnings, take a mat that will support you in your early progression. You will need a mat that gives you grip and holds you in place.
Having a mat that grips your hands and feet will allow you to explore further as you try new poses and flows. For your first mat, take a comfortably cushioned, stable, beginner-focused yoga mat that encourages confidence from the ground up. A mat with enough thickness, grip and support to help you evolve your practice and not hold you back while you try to live up to the mats potential.
The following mats can be strong allies to start your yoga journey:
Manduka Begin - a great starting point. Provides comfort and cushion with a good grip.
Manduka X - special cross training mat. Good cushion and grip, can be used for cross training activities.
Manduka eKO lite - strong dry grip and soft support. Ideal for yogis who like a grounding experience. Need to be love as made of natural rubber.
Can I start with a PRO mat?
We do not advise to go straight for a PRO unless you already have a good base in mobility and stability. The PRO series is designed for experienced yogis that do not require as much support from the mat, as they have begun to master their grip through their hands and feet. It is designed to allow a seamless flow between poses. So when seeing a teacher or someone who practices regularly, know that in their practice they require less grip from the mat and are looking for stability and cushioning. Do not underestimate how long someone has practiced before they can hold a solid downward dog on a PRO mat, we promise you there was a journey that got them there! You can always change to a new mat in the coming years but this first mat will need to be the one to support you not push you. Just in the same way we don’t put a toddler on a race bike for their first cycling experience, you shouldn’t rush out and buy a PRO if you’re not ready.
Do I need yoga props?
No you don’t, well at least you don’t need to go out and get yoga specific props to begin with. As you are setting out there is no need to invest in everything at once. Instead look around the house for items that can sub in for yoga props.
A solid hard book makes a great stable block
Your belt or a skipping rope is a perfect alternative for a yoga strap
Take a pillow from the sofa instead of a bolster
Once you know how you use props then you can see what you’ll need for your practice. When that time does come though no doubt you will see the world of difference with that new item.
What does a yoga towel do?
Whilst practicing yoga is a low impact activity do not underestimate how hot this can get. There will be times that you begin to sweat, when your hands and feet begin to get moist causing you to slip. A yoga towel can help with this. The majority of yoga mats are closed cell top surface (see info on how to clean you mat blog post on the different types of mat) which means moisture will not get absorbed in the mat and can create a moist layer between your mat and your hands. Thus creating the feeling of slipping. It’s normal. And everyone goes through it. But a hand towel can help in those times. It’s small and can be next to you while practicing.
When you feel slip beginning to happen, placing a yoga hand towel on the mat under your hands will absorb your sweat and provide the missing grip. As everyone is different this can also happen at your feet and so with its size you can easily move it around the mat to where you need the grip. It’s our favourite tool for any yogi as slip is the biggest physical challenge in yoga, every class and every person can have a different experience every day, so this simple tool can help make your experience a little less unpredictable.
Enjoy the journey.
Whatever it is you decide on, make sure its quality and necessity that drives your purchase, and ask your fellow yogis what and why they use something. No doubt though as you continue to evolve in your practice, adding equipment that is designed to support you will enhance your experience on and off the mat.
The main thing about yoga is that it’s about you. Don’t worry about how good you are, or worry about your equipment. All will come in time when you know more about what you want, it’s really just about trying yoga and keep trying until you find what you are looking for. The fun part is that where you start will most definitely not be where you are in the future. Even the most avid practitioners and teachers are always learning and trying new pathways. As it’s a journey and those who want to enjoy the best trips are the ones always open to trying new things and allow change to be the direction. Yoga opens the possibilities for so many people, it’s about taking that first step and not worrying which way you are going.