One beauty of yoga is that nearly no gear is required. Yoga originated in ancient India and early practitioners were almost universally Hindu renunciants for whom earthly possessions were a burden, not a luxury. Their only possessions were a drinking gourd and a hand woven mat that served as a blanket or mattress for sleeping and a custom printed yoga mat for their daily practice of yoga asanas. Times have changed, but yoga has not. Not much gear is needed to practice yoga today, just as was the case in ancient India. Necessary and beneficial gear can be divided into two categories – essential and optional.
Aside from comfortable, flexible apparel, essential gear consists of one of the two things ancient yogis possessed – a yoga mat. Today’s yoga mats are quite a bit more sophisticated than those that were available a thousand years ago, which may have been made of tiger skin or woven fibers, but their function is basically the same: to provide a buffer between your body and the ground. Many poses are done on the floor. That poses problems that only a good mat can provide a solution to.
Pain is the principle problem that a yoga mat solves. Take Sarvangasana, the shoulder stand, for example. This pose requires you to put the entire weight of your body on your shoulder blades, your neck and the back of the head. Without the padding of a mat, the shoulder stand can be so painful that it makes holding the position very difficult and distracting. With the mat, you are able to focus your mind and perfect your technique. More basic poses like downward dog will also be supports your hands, wrists and toes, and give you something to grab onto and/or dig into.
The list of optional yoga gear is quite a bit longer than the essentials list. Yoga has become so popular that people of all ages and levels of fitness are practicing it today. Some feel they need yoga gear to help them stretch their limits and others need optional gear to address the limits imposed by age or injury. A variety of products such as yoga bolsters and yoga blocks are available that can be valuable aids in a yoga workout. Other optional gear, like inflatable yoga balls, while not strictly traditional, are fantastic aids to the kind of flexible fitness that is yoga’s hallmark and can be considered part of one’s gear.
If there is one item of yoga gear that straddles the space between “essential” and “optional,” it would be yoga socks with non-stick soles. Most people would agree that yoga is best done barefooted, but many yoga studios and gyms that conduct classes have highly polished floors. A good pair of non-stick yoga socks that keep your feet stuck to the floor when practicing standing positions are as essential as the mat on polished floors, both for safety’s sake and for the proper execution of the poses.
Perhaps the best advice for beginners is to attend your first class before you purchase your gear. If you can, borrow a mat from a friend for your first lesson or two. Many studios will also provide mats. For the sake of convenience, you may opt for this, but if you want to develop a certain sense of comfort and familiarity you may want to start to assemble your own gear. Not all yoga mats are the same, so get a feel for yoga, the style of you are practicing and your particular needs before you spend your money. As you practice more, you’ll also know what kinds of optional gear you need to get the most out of your practice.
Fuzhou Bohanson Trading Co., LTD specializes in manufacturing yoga props. Our website: bhsyoga.