No matter what most articles or promotional literature tells you, the only yoga supplies you will need to get started with yoga are yoga mats. Everything else is an accessory that can enhance your experience, but is not necessary for the experience to begin. You can purchase a good yoga mat online or at any fitness retailer, and you should look for a mat that comes with a carrying case. The case makes it easy to store your mat and easier to clean, since it is not always exposed inside the case.
If you are a beginner, other equipment like blocks, ropes, straps and sandbags can assist you in keeping your balance and holding yoga positions. Yoga blocks are used primarily by people who are not very flexible, are in the mid to late stages of pregnancy or who have suffered physical injuries. They assist in gentle stretching and forming yoga poses. Yoga ropes are used for alignment to assist when the poses are too physically challenging or for those who want to have support and flexibility as they do deeper poses. Yoga straps are used to increase resistance for strength training and can deepen or guide certain stretches. Yoga sandbags increase strength and endurance levels.
Advanced yoga practitioners use more sophisticated equipment. Inversion slings, which hang from the ceiling, give you spinal traction and lower back strength. Additional slings help you work against gravity, which, over time, drags on all the soft tissue of your body, including organs. Slings (which can help you hang upside down) reverse the direction in which gravity pulls your organs. Yoga headstanders also reverse your weight, ninety percent through your shoulders and 10 percent through your palms. It helps to release chronic tension from the muscles of your neck, shoulders and skull, and relieves headaches caused by shoulder and neck spasms.
Yoga boards assist you with balance. You can stand on one foot on top of them or use them to push up on when you are lying on the floor. This does not come across as a sophisticated yoga tool, but it makes all the difference in keeping your balance. The back-bending bench opens the heart and chest area to alleviate back pain. It also helps stretch and tone abdominal muscles and stretches the shoulders. Although proof cannot be documented, some believe this apparatus can also help lessen menstrual cramps. The back-bending bench has been known to support the bridge and fish poses in yoga.
In general, yoga clothing should be easy to maneuver in, but not too loose. Tank tops, t-shirts that are not too big, sports bras, wrist and headbands, and form-fitting pants work best. Jeans, sweatshirts, shoes and skirts are not good choices. The best rule of thumb is to find clothes that are not so tight that your body cannot properly breathe, but not so loose that they get in your way. You should be looking for a "right fit," rather than searching for a definite size guideline. Stick to sweat absorbent clothes like spandex, elastic and other light materials, and stay away from cotton, which becomes too heavy and sticks to your body when it is wet.
Finding the right yoga supplies can make all the difference in your comfort level during your workout. Many online retailers specialize in yoga gear. Do not be overwhelmed. Be honest with yourself about your skill level in yoga and find the right supplies to help you become a better practitioner.