From the outside, yoga seems like some impossible superhuman carnival trick. Once you dive into the yogic world, however, you begin to realize that anyone is capable of performing these feats of contortion. Yoga is about breathing. When you focus on your breath, everything else is just bending. Since it requires no equipment to participate, you can practice yoga anywhere and at any time. No matter where you’re at in your yoga practice, here are a few accessories that can enhance your experience.
I love Manduka yoga mats. Seriously. I even used their mats to remodel a van I was living in a few months ago. Shade is the coolest new color. Manduka Eko mats are fully recyclable, sturdy, durable, and have a great grip for hot and Bikram sessions. Manduka keeps their mats collectible by alternating colors like Converse Chucks. The Lite mat is a great intro mat for a beginner, but you’ll eventually wanna go pro.
Yoga tests the limits of your strength and flexibility. Unless you’re a devotee, there’s a good chance you’re not showing up 6 days a week every week without a break. Even if you are a full time yogi, every so often (such as during the full and new moon) you need to take a break to give your body a chance to rest. If you take time off for vacation, illness, or any other reason life throws at us, this kit from Gaiam will help you keep up your workout without yoga. Personally I recommend at least performing a set of sun salutations just to get your blood flowing every day.
Mala beads are a necessity for a rounded yoga practice. Aside from being a fashion statement to proudly show of your commitment to your yoga practice, the beads assist you in counting chants and meditations without breaking your stream of consciousness. You close your eyes, start at the big bead and work your way around the circle one bead at a time until you return to your starting point. I wear mine everywhere around my neck, and I’ve seen people (both men and women) successfully pull them off on their wrists and ankles. How you sport the beads is up to you, but get some now.
I had a chance to meet Kino and speak with her on several occasions. When she offered me an advanced press copy of her new book, The Power of Ashtanga Yoga, I happily accepted. Kino is a legendary Ashtangi, and this book is the best yoga guide I’ve ever read. Whether you’re just starting your yoga journey or reading this in a personalized version of Vrschikasana, Power is a necessary book for your yoga library.
You want a comfortable pair of pants for yoga. Jeans won’t do, and sweats can overheat you very quickly. It feels like every woman is sporting spandex and men are wearing basketball clothes. Switch it up a bit with Prana’s ridiculously comfortable pants. The Sutra pants are my favorite pair of pants ever! I wear them pretty much everywhere. The Malibu for women give flexibility to wear to work with a frilly blouse or whatever you people do… ;)
This piece of furniture is a bit pricey for yoga, but so much more than just a yoga accessory. This is a place in your home in which you can be completely comfortable, relaxed, and alert. This is your safe place. This is your wind down. If you’re looking to reap the full benefits of a yoga practice beyond just the workout, the Rattan Meditation Chair is a must have for relaxing like a yogi.
Chai tea is something you’ll eventually encounter on your yogic journey to spiritual oneness. Hydration is important in yoga, and tea is just as good as water at accomplishing this. Tazo makes an amazing fresh organic Chai blend. Add milk, honey, and a vanilla bean for an amazing vanilla chai latte. If you love any type of tea you’ll definitely want a decorative pot to brew it in. Use a different pot for green and black teas to produce the best flavor from your blends.
Over time, your yoga practice can start to feel stale. The same routine that brings tranquility and relaxation to your life can at times become a burden in your schedule. Music is a great way to revive your motivation and add some much needed spice to the mix. Soft acoustic music can assist in creating a meditative atmosphere, but I like something more upbeat. I lean towards hip-hop while many yogi’s I know like to play rock music. Matisyahu is a great choice for lovers of any genre. He blends reggae, rock, and hip-hop into an upbeat, evenly paced, and positive sonic experience. There’s no better feeling than pushing through your 10th downward dog of the day while Matisyahu encourages you to tap into your inner fire and fight like a warrior.
Keeping your mat clean is essential to a yoga practice. You sometimes have to practice in small and crowded rooms. If you want to stay hygienic (and you should), you need to clean your mat regularly. Manduka’s mat spray cleans your mat without robbing it of its stickiness. It comes in a variety of scents, but citrus is my favorite for getting rid of that new mat smell without compromising the mat’s integrity. Citrus also mixes well with the flowery smells that permeate many yoga studios.
Whether you’re working out, cooling down, or just meditating, incense transforms your mat and room into another dimension. Engaging your sense of smell helps bring you into the present moment, which is the main goal of a yoga practice. Nag Champa is my favorite utility incense, but add in your favorite scents, colors, and flavors to intensify your yogic experience. Incense turns a good practice into a transcendent one.
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