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10 Must Have Yoga Accessories

10 Must Have Yoga Accessories

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.

1. Manduka Shade Eko Mat Lite – $40.80

Manduka Shade Yoga Mat - Lifehack

    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.

    2. Gaiam Strength and Flexibility Kit – $14.99

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    Gaiam Strength and Flexibility Kit Lifehack

      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.

      3. Shambala Rosewood Mala Beads – $19.95

      Mala Beads Lifehack

        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.

        4. The Power of Ashtanga Yoga by Kino MacGregor – $21.95 ($14.95 w/ Prime)

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        Kino Power of Ashtanga Yoga Lifehack

          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.

          5. Prana Malibu (Women) – $85 and Sutra (Men) Pants – $70

          Prana Yoga Bottoms Lifehack

            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… ;)

            6. Gaiam Rattan Meditation Chair – $299.00

            Gaiam Meditation Chair Lifehack

              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.
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              7. Tazo Organic Chai Tea – $6.95 per 2 oz bag

              Tazo Chai Tea Lifehack

                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.

                8. Matisyahu – Spark Seeker – $5 Digital Download/$9.99 CD

                Matisyahu - spark seeker

                   

                  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.

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                  9. Manduka Soothing Citrus Mat Renew Spray – $5

                  Manduka Mat Spray Lifehack

                    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.

                    10. Nag Champa Incense Sticks – $7.85 (100 Pack)

                    Nag Champa Incense Lifehack

                      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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                      How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                      How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                      Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                      Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                      I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                      You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                      Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                      When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                      I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                      Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                      Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                      Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                      1. The Inner Critic

                      This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                      • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                      • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                      • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                      • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                      He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                      Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                      2. The Worrier

                      This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                      He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                      Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                      3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                      He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                      He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                      He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                      4. The Sleep Depriver

                      This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                      His motivation can be:

                      • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                      • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                      • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                      • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                      How can you control these squatters?

                      How to Master Your Mind

                      You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                      Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                      There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                      • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                      • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                      This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                      The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                      Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                      For the Inner Critic

                      When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                      You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                      For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                      You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                      “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                      If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                      • He riles up the Worrier.
                      • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                      • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                      • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                      • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                      Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                      Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                      For the Worrier

                      Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                      Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                      You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                      • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                      • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                      • Muscles tense

                      Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                      If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                      Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                      “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                      Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                      If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                      Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                      Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                      For example:

                      If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                      “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                      Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                      “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                      Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                      For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                      Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                      The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                      • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                      • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                      • Muscles tension

                      I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                      Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                      Breathe in through your nose:

                      • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                      • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                      • Focus on your belly rising.

                      Breathe out through your nose:

                      • Feel your lungs emptying.
                      • Focus on your belly falling.
                      • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                      Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                      Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                      One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                      Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                      For the Sleep Depriver

                      (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                      I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                      Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                      1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                      2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                      When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                      From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                      For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                      If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                      You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                      • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                      • Shut down your thinking.
                      • Calm your feelings.
                      • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                      Becoming the Master of Your Mind

                      Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                      You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                      Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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