Yoga is a really flexible activity. You can practice almost anywhere (places where I have practiced yoga include an airport, a hotel bathroom and the backseat of a car) and you do not really need any special yoga equipment to do it. But you may need some helpful resources, at least at the beginning of your yoga journey, and maybe one or two pieces of equipment to make your practice more comfortable or at least more varied.
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(Before you read this part, be sure to check my post on practicing yoga at home vs practicing in a studio, especially if you haven’t decided what fits you better)
I’m afraid I can’t really help you here with any specific recommendations, because you may be reading this half across the planet, and I can only recommend a few local studios. So I’ll be a bit more general. These tips may be obvious, but they may also come in handy.
Nowadays it’s quite easy to find a local yoga studio by simply googling, but is that enough to choose? Before you go to a studio, try to find reviews online – a lot of places have them – and check them out. You can ask for recommendations from your friends who do yoga or from people in various online communities. Find out the price range and the schedule of the studio to make sure they fit you.
Before you fully commit and get a membership or pay for a few lessons, find out if the studio offers any test (demo) lessons at a reduced price (or even for free) – I have seen this in a few studios here in Moscow, and I’m sure others around the world offer this opportunity as well.
Even if the studio offers yearly subscriptions with quite a significant discount, think twice before you get one. I’d recommend to take a short-term subscription or even pay for each individual lesson for a while to find out if this is the right place for you. You may spend a bit more, but getting a yearly subscription and then failing to attend classes because the studio does not fit you in some way will be a huge waste of money.
Video Lessons (YouTube Lessons)
This is how I finally managed to get into practicing yoga daily: free YouTube lessons. I just typed “yoga for beginners” and the top search result – Yoga With Adriene – was the perfect fit for me. I really like how Adriene mixes physical with spiritual, how her lessons vary in focus and length, and there’s a suitable lesson for practically any mood or state. Adriene’s lessons are in English, following them might be a bit hard if English is not your native language, but if you don’t have any problems reading my posts, then you should be OK. Also, with any video lessons, you’ll get used to the teacher’s speech pretty quickly.
For more YouTube lessons from other teachers you can do just what I did: type “yoga for beginners” on YouTube, in English or in your native language, and see what comes up. Feel free to browse and try out different videos. You don’t have to commit to one channel or teacher.
Just remember to be safe: follow the video instructions carefully and don’t push your body into asanas that seem too complicated for your current level. But also don’t give up too easily! Even if you feel like getting out of a pose, hold it for one breath longer – it can make a lot of difference.
Yoga by Skype (or any other type of video call)
Apparently, that’s a thing. I was surprised that something like that exists, it seems a bit weird to me, but then, why not?
It feels like it could be sort of a mix between the previous two options. On the one hand, there is a teacher to guide you and motivate you. On the other, it is more private and may be more flexible than attending classes in a studio.
I haven’t tried it myself because I have a weird dislike of any sort of phone calls, video calls included. Have you ever tried or would you try something like this?
Disclosure: This part of the post contains affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you whatsoever, I will get a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. See full information here.
A yoga mat is not really necessary for the standing asanas. But there are a lot of ones that you do sitting or lying down, and doing them on the floor is not always fun. The floor can be not so clean, or it can be cold or too hard.
If you don’t want to purchase a mat, it’s absolutely fine, but consider having a towel or blanket nearby, especially for your knees and/or elbows in certain poses.
One of the good things about yoga is that you can practice it wearing practically anything (or nothing at all, for that matter). Usually a simple top and pants will suffice. The main idea is that the clothes should be comfy, rather soft, and not too tight. But not too loose as well – if you do a downward facing dog in a really loose shirt, the shirt ends up somewhere around your wrists. It’s not embarrassing when you practice at home, but still not very comfortable, especially if your routine has a lot of inverted asanas.
It is in general a good idea to keep in mind the asanas that you are going to have during the class (you’ll get a certain level of understanding after a few classes) and the conditions such as temperature. For example, if I know that I’m going to have a very relaxed session without any inversions (an advantage of home practice for me, choosing the type of session I feel most like doing; for full list of advantages see this post) and it’s a chilly season, like autumn or winter, I put on my favorite warm pajamas and have a fabulous time.
Yoga blocks can help you get into certain asanas (or into simpler variants of some poses) and can be fun to use, but for me they are definitely not an essential piece of yoga equipment. But they can be relatively cheap, so you can buy one to try it out.
Blocks can be replaced with pillows and rolled up blankets, which can make for quite a cozy session, or other objects from around the house.
I have been doing yoga for around two years now, but I have not tried this piece of yoga equipment yet. Have you? Is it fun? Share in the comments!
I’m thinking about trying it, and if I eventually do I might do a separate post about it.
Creating the right atmosphere
If you practice at a yoga studio, the atmosphere has probably already been set: dimmed lights, burning incense, soft meditative music, comfy lounge area, spacious rooms free of clutter… But you can do it at home, too!
Depending on the space available and the things you are into, you can play relaxing music, get an oil or salt lamp, burn incense… You can allocate a corner or even a whole room (lucky you, if you can do that!) for yoga, and decorate it in a way that will “get you in the mood” for yoga classes and help you feel relaxed and at ease.
The beauty of yoga lies in its adaptability. On the one hand, you can practice with no extra yoga equipment whatsoever or use what you already have at home. On the other hand, there are a few things, like yoga mats, blocks or elastic bands, which can add variety to your practice or actually improve some of your asanas.
If you go to a yoga studio, you can probably try out all these things there at no or with little extra cost. If you practice at home, you can try the “home-made” alternatives first (like a pillow or a book instead of a yoga block) to see if you need that sort of equipment at all.
So, this was my list. Have I missed anything? What yoga equipment do you use or would like to try out? Share in the comments, and, as always, feel free to ask questions.