Yoga is one of those things that seems so simple yet many people have never even tried. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try but just didn’t take the time because there were no good resources available when we first started out as adults. Nowadays with YouTube videos, blogs and podcasts dedicated to every possible topic and style under the sun, starting an at home yoga routine has never been easier.
And if you’re new to yoga, why not start off easy? With these inexpensive tips on how to buy the right gear and essentials needed to get started in yoga?
So what exactly does someone need before they hit up the nearest studio to get going with this popular workout trend? Let’s go over the basics!
If you want to get into a pose, whether a beginner pose or advanced, standing or sitting, inverted, or otherwise, you’ll need a sturdy surface upon which to stand. This could be a floor mat, carpeting, grass, tile, etc…the options are endless. The most common type used today by beginners is called a foam yoga mat ($30 – $50) or a Hardwood Floor Mat($100+). Both types of surfaces provide stability while being soft enough to absorb impact without causing injury. If you plan to practice outside then consider buying a thicker outdoor yoga mat made specifically for this purpose. They typically cost about $20 more than indoor varieties.
These mats come in different thicknesses ranging between 2″ and 4″. Most professional studios use 3″-4″ thick mats. Generally speaking, higher quality means better durability. Some brands include non slip rubber pads inside the corners to prevent slippage during poses. Other features may include extra cushioning along the edges, ridges around the edge to keep hands away from seams, and special designs like arrows pointing towards the center of the room for balance and alignment.
New to Yoga, learn about the Different Types of Yoga
As a beginner, look for a mat that is firm and stable. Don’t worry too much about price here, as long as its comfortable to hold onto, you should be fine. One thing to note though — don’t put anything heavy or sharp directly on top of the mat. Also, make sure you choose a brand name you feel confident using. Your safety and comfort depend on it!
Pose-able Clothing (Shirts/Tops)
For most people, clothes are often the biggest obstacle preventing them from doing a full body twist or downward dog. Yoga clothing comes in several styles including athletic wear, leggings, sweatshirts, tank tops, compression shirts, bandeaus, sports bras, and other variations. Brands vary widely in pricing, materials, fabric care instructions, sizing availability, and convenience. When shopping for yoga apparel, think about what kind of lifestyle you lead.
Do you prefer loose fitting garments that allow movement or tighter, form-fitting ones that restrict movement? How active are you currently? What climate do you live in? Are you looking for performance fabrics or eco friendly products? And lastly, how disciplined are you when trying to achieve results quickly? These questions alone can help narrow down your choices.
While all of the above factors play a role in determining which particular garment best suits your needs, remember that getting dressed isn’t the end goal. As a beginner, you shouldn’t spend money unnecessarily. Instead, stick to basic cotton tanks, vests, and bottoms that you can find at a variety of retailers. You can easily mix and match pieces from various retailers until you find a combination you really love. So regardless of where you shop, ask sales associates for recommendations based on your budget, personal taste, and current activity levels.
Before beginning your yoga session, hydrate yourself with water. Whether you drink straight tap water, or bottled water prior to class doesn’t matter nearly as much as drinking water throughout the duration of each lesson.
Water helps regulate digestion, reduces bloating, prevents constipation, improves complexion, increases metabolism, aids in detoxification, regulates blood pressure, keeps joints lubricated, relieves headaches, promotes healthy skin, gives energy, strengthens muscles, tones digestive system, maintains electrolyte intake, provides essential nutrients, and flushes toxins through urine.
By staying properly hydrated, you’ll reap the benefits mentioned above plus reduce risk of muscle cramps, dehydration, fatigue, and soreness. Plus, water tastes delicious and can be enjoyed anytime of day. A word of caution, however, avoid drinks high in sugar content such as fruit juices and sodas. Although refreshing, they cause spikes in insulin production resulting in hypoglycemia later in the day after finishing your workout.
In addition to proper hydration, eating well is paramount to achieving desired results in both strength gains and fat loss. Consume foods rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, phytonutrients, and carbohydrates. Protein sources range from lean meats, eggs, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds, and beans.
Omega fatty acids improve cardiovascular health, control cholesterol, increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol, lower triglycerides, aid brain function, promote joint mobility, aid digestion, strengthen immune systems, maintain cell membranes, fight inflammation, decrease depression symptoms, and regulate mood among many other functions.
Carbohydrates consist primarily of sugars (simple carbs), starches, fibers, and glycogen stores. Simple carbohydrates contain only a single molecule bonded together consisting of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Starches are chains of glucose bound together via glycosidic bonds. Glycosylation occurs when starch binds to proteins within the human body forming indigestible complexes.
Dietary fiber passes unchanged through the stomach and small intestine undigested. However, insoluble dietary fiber cannot be absorbed by the intestinal wall and therefore exits the body as waste. Soluble dietary fiber dissolves in water and becomes gel-like allowing absorption into the bloodstream. Insoluble fiber remains unaffected in the gut creating bulk and regulating bowel movements.
Together, complex carbohydrates combine carbohydrate fractions with soluble and insoluble fibers. Healthy carbohydrates supply energy, fuel biochemical reactions, build strong bones, regulate blood sugar levels, assist in burning excess calories, maintain steady heart rate and rhythm, boost immunity, support healthy aging, and improve sleep patterns. Foods containing carbohydrates represent the largest portion of daily caloric consumption worldwide.
Although proper hydration and good nutrition are essential for success in any fitness program, they’re especially important when practicing yoga. By keeping yourself hydrated and eating a healthy diet consisting of nutrient-rich foods, you’ll reduce your risk of developing muscle cramps, dehydration, fatigue, and soreness. And who doesn’t want to feel their best while enjoying the many benefits of this wonderful practice?
Why is yoga practiced barefoot?
There are many reasons why yoga is typically practiced barefoot. One of the most common is that it helps connect practitioners with the earth and brings them back into contact with their surroundings. Additionally, going barefoot allows one to feel the ground beneath them which provides stability and an awareness of where they are in space. Practicing barefoot can help improve balance and coordination, and many teachers believe that it helps to “ground” one’s practice. Lastly, in a more spiritual sense, some believe that going barefoot allows energy to flow more freely through the body.
Is it necessary to be flexible to do yoga?
No, you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga. In fact, one of the benefits of yoga is that it can help to increase flexibility. Yoga is a great way to start working on your flexibility if you’re not already flexible, and over time you will likely see an improvement in your range of motion. However, if you’re someone who is already quite flexible, you may want to focus on intensifying your practice to achieve greater strength and stability.
How do I store yoga gear?
Ideally, you should store your yoga gear in a place where it will be safe and accessible. Many people choose to store their yoga mats in a closet or under their bed, and some may even choose to hang their blocks and straps on a wall-mounted rack. Whatever storage option you choose, make sure that it is easy for you to access and that you can keep it clean and organized.