As some of you know, I’m about to embark upon a yoga teacher training program. In preparation for this, I’ve been practicing yoga pretty regularly and therefore, thinking about yoga a lot. As for my blog (in addition to my posts for the 2014 Bloggers Challenge and other topics that I may cover), I will be doing a new series of posts in relation to the yoga teacher training program that will document my experiences along the way.
So, since I’ve been doing a lot more yoga, I’m realizing some things about my practice and building a routine for myself. In doing so, I now am aware of certain “yoga essentials” that I just can’t really do without during my practice. If you practice yoga on a regular basis, then I’m sure you can relate, but if you’re new to the discipline, then maybe this list will inspire you to give these items a try to help enhance your experience.
My Yoga Essentials
For some reason, my bones protrude from my body a bit more than on others. This means that when I place my weight on any bone and/or joint for a certain yoga pose, the weight baring bone or joint starts to feel sharp pain (i.e. Low Lunge). I use to just use two yoga mats and place one on top of the other during class, but then I found that they make extra thick yoga mats. The one that I got is from Sweaty Betty, and its not only extra thick, but its also extra long. I’m not very tall, so the length doesn’t matter as much, but it does give me a bit more room during class, which is nice. I now can go into low lunge without having to use two mats and a blanket under my knee. I can also lie on my back and not feel all the bones in my scapula on the hardwood floor, which is also quite nice.
I suffer from sweaty hands and feet during any yoga class that I take (except maybe restorative yoga), and when this happens, I often have a problem with slipping. With my new yoga mat (described above), I’ve been slipping a bit more than I did with previous yoga mats that I’ve had. Since I’ve had this problem in the past when I first started taking yoga about six years ago, I knew that I needed to start using my skidfree towel again. Although they can be a bit pricy, I’ve had mine for six years now, and it is still working for me very well. I can’t tell you how much more productive my practice is when I’m not worried about slipping out of a downward dog split (a.k.a. three legged dog pose) and falling on my face. It stretches out and covers most of my mat’s length, so I can stay slipfree through all of my poses. Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without this thing. It is seriously a life saver!!
Its important to drink water whether you’re doing yoga or not, but I do like to take my Nalgene Bottle with me to every class. Especially if I’m doing a particularly difficult class such as a vinyasa flow, ashtanga, hot yoga, or any kind that really gets your heart pumping, I definitely like to have a water bottle with me. These Nalgenes are great because they are big so you can take enough water with you for before, during, and after your class.
Obviously, if you’re a woman who does any kind of physical exercise, you are going to need a sports bra no matter what size you are (sorry guys, this one’s just for the ladies). I personally like to use lighter weight sports bras that don’t squeeze you too much for yoga for two reasons. One being that I don’t like it when my bras strangle the life out of me, and the second being that it allows me to focus on my poses more intently rather than worrying about my clothes. I’d say that going for a light to medium support bra for a yoga class works perfectly fine unless you’re super uncomfortable with that or have a very large chest.
I do often do yoga in bottoms that have a wider leg, but its best when you wear something that’s form fitting to your ankles. Throughout yoga class, you are constantly moving through poses. If you are wearing pants with a wider bottom, then there is potential for your foot to get caught in the extra fabric, which could cause you to fall and injure yourself. Especially if you are a beginner, I highly suggest wearing leggings to your yoga classes. Trust me, you will notice the difference. Also, it is extremely important that the bottoms you are wearing have completely opaque fabric, or else the person behind you in class and/or your instructor will get a nice view of your underwear while you are in downward dog. No joke.
In yoga, you are constantly putting your torso upside down. Whether you’re hanging over your legs in a hamstring stretch, in downward dog, or in a handstand, odds are, you will be upside down. Personally, I can’t stand it when I’m in the middle of class and my top slips up and exposes my mid-section while in an inverted pose. Its honestly my biggest pet peeve because once that happens, I have to stop what I’m doing and immediately fix my shirt. To solve this problem, I like to either wear an extra long tank top that is form fitting and covers my hips, or any normal length form fitting top with elastic so that it moves with me and stays in place.
At the beginning of class (especially in the winter months), I am usually cold, and I like to have a long sleeve top over my tank top that I can eventually remove once I get a bit warmer. There is nothing worse than starting a class while your muscles are freezing cold because that is a sure fire way to injure yourself. Although yoga teachers do often start off the class slowly without jumping right into the more challenging poses, it is still good to start off with a little something to assist your muscles in warming up a bit faster. I like to use tops that are long and form fitting (just like the tops I described above) because they will not ride up on you keeping your entire upper body warm.
Final Thoughts: I hope this list of my yoga essentials helped you in discovering some new things that you may need for your personal yoga practice. Keep an eye out for my upcoming blog series all about my yoga teacher training experiences, and let me know what you think! Thanks for visiting TheDanceGrad.com!