As we go into the cooler months of winter many people in classes start to bring more things to keep themselves warm and comfortable during relaxation. This has prompted me to write about how valuable owning your own yoga kit can be.
If you are attending classes in a fully equipped studio you get away with not having to do this however I strongly recommend that if you love your yoga then invest in a few valuable items. At the very least it is a good idea to bring along a large towel or cloth mat to go over the studio mat. As you know I teach in a couple of venues outside of my private studio that aren’t yoga studios. They are not equipped with anything so students attending those classes have to bring all their own gear.
Standard Mat (the vinyl or rubber one we are all familiar with that provides cushioning on the floor)
Firstly you will need a yoga mat and these vary hugely in price depending on what you like and how eco-friendly you wish to be. You can pay anything from $10 up to $150 and probably more. Choose a mat to suit your budget and get one that allows you to feel comfortable and supported. Keep in mind when buying your mat whether or not you intend to place a towel or a cloth mat on top of the vinyl/rubber one as this might determine how thick you want your mat to be. Remember there are no right or wrongs here but purely personal choice and comfort. Yoga mats come in many different types of material so be sure to check the materials if you have any known allergies, such as latex.
Many yoga students choose to place a towel or cloth mat over the standard mat. This adds thickness and softness, provides additional warmth when in prone or supine positions, and gives you an alternative grip that may be better for some postures when the standard mat is a bit sticky. A towel or cloth mat is also easy to wash. If you are only doing yoga in a specialised equipped studio, it can be nice to use a towel or cloth mat over the standard studio mat as it gives you a sense of personal space and you can wash it whenever you wish.
A couple of yoga blocks are a very useful addition and light to have in your bag. They can be used to assist in resting in poses where you can’t comfortably reach the floor. For example, they are great to use under your heels in downward facing dog pose, or to rest your hand on in the triangle poses. I have seen them used for sitting on and also to prop up a bolster for restorative practice. They have many and varied uses.
A yoga strap is really handy for stretching and for restorative work, easy to have in your bag and doesn’t take up much space. I prefer the ones with metal D-rings as they are easier to work with than the plastic buckles.
A yoga blanket is a great addition and so versatile that you will use it again and again as you find more and more uses for it. In fact I recommend having two in your bag as you will use them. Sometimes when we are doing some body preps it is really nice to put a blanket out over your mat so that when you reach and stretch you have the blanket under you and are not touching the floor, especially when it is a cold tiled floor in another venue! Plus it gives you extra softness to lie on in relaxation. Pop the other one over you to keep really warm.
For warmth in relaxation or to add softness, any type of blanket will do, but wool blankets are best for restorative poses as they are less squishy and provide more support. You can buy yoga/camping blankets from the army surplus shop in Bunbury for around $15, take them home and give them a good wash and you’re all set to go.
A bolster to put under your knees during relaxation can be really helpful and you can find them in a variety of sizes to suit you. They don’t have to be the huge restorative type of bolster, although I personally do love them. You can get smaller ones that are soft and perfect support for your lower back when placed under your knees.
A water bottle is essential and I recommend one with a leak proof lid so you don’t have any leaks in your bag! If you get an insulated one you can have warm water in it in the cooler months.
A eye pillow is an optional extra but nice for those who like them and again doesn’t take up much space in your bag. Alternatively a scarf can be used the same way and is a little lighter if you don’t like the weight of the bag on your eyes. Drape a scarf over your eyes instead.
Now all you need is a very large bag and there are plenty around. I have a huge kit bag that I got on sale at one of the local camping stores (wait for the 40% off sales, they happen often) this will fit everything in for you. Alternately you can get yourself a good mat bag that goes over your shoulder and a smaller bag for the rest. It really is a personal choice but I do suggest you get organised and have a bag that is ready to go. It might live in your car or can be easily carried anywhere to make your yoga practice work for you.
- Large bag
- Standard yoga mat
- Cloth mat or towel
- Blocks x2
- Eye pillow
- Water bottle
Have fun putting your kit together.