When you first start doing yoga, it's hard to know what you

really need to buy. The

yoga mat
continues to develop so much clothing and equipment

that you might feel you need to spend hundreds of dollars before ever

stepping foot in a studio.

The good news is, you actually need very little to get started. That

said, if you're starting a home practice, or you'd feel

better purchasing yoga-specific apparel and equipment prior to your

first class, here's what you need to know.

It should go without saying that most aerial yoga accessories

want you to wear something to class, but you don't need scores of

printed yoga pants or designer gear to be accepted by your peers.

Start with the comfortable, breathable athletic apparel you already

have on hand, and purchase mid-level basics for anything you're


Pants or Shorts: You can't go wrong with a few pairs of solid-

color yoga pants in black, dark grey, navy, or brown. You can mix-

and-match these tights with a wide variety of tops, and if you

purchase high-quality options, they can last a long time.

If tight pants aren't your thing, look for jogger-style pants or

the popular harem-style pants that have elastic around the ankles.

These pants are stretchy and offer a little extra room, but due to

the ankle elastic, they'll stay in place throughout your


Shorts are a popular option for guys, and they're also

appropriate for women, especially if you plan to try hot yoga. Just

keep in mind, you may want to wear form-fitting spandex shorts or

looser shorts with connected tights underneath because some poses

require you to position your legs in a way that could leave you

uncomfortably uncovered with looser, running-style shorts. 

Tops: It's important to wear tops that are fairly form-

fitting so your shirt doesn't fly over your head during forward

bends. Wicking material is helpful, especially if you tend to sweat a

lot or if you plan on attending a hot yoga class.

Because yoga rooms are sometimes kept cool, you may want to bring

a light cover up or sweater with you to class. You can wear it until

class starts, and if you keep it by your mat, you can put it on

before the final savasana.

Sports Bras: If you're a woman, make sure you wear a sports bra.


TPE yoga mat
tends to be a low-impact activity, a decent sports

bra can help keep your "girls" in place as you transition

between poses, making your practice more comfortable.

Hair Ties or Headbands: Whether you're a man or woman, if you

have long hair, you need to secure it in place before you start class

to prevent stray locks from falling in your eyes and face. A basic

hair tie or headband should do the trick.

Yoga Socks: To be clear, yoga socks are not a requirement to

attend a class. In fact, it's preferable to do yoga barefoot.

That said if you can't fathom the thought of taking your socks

and shoes off in front of strangers, invest in a pair of yoga socks

with grips on the bottom so you can keep your feet covered while

maintaining good traction. Standard socks absolutely won't do, as

you'll end up slipping and sliding all over your mat.

These days, you can buy yoga apparel practically anywhere, and

it's not unusual to see yoga pants priced at over $100. Don't

feel you need to lay out that much cash for a single pair of pants!

Target, Amazon, and YogaOutlet offer quality options for well under

$50. Buy a couple pairs of pants and a few tops, and you'll be

set for months.

As you commit yourself to your practice, you may decide to add

trendy prints or styles to your wardrobe.

In gyms and yoga studios, it’s commonplace to use a yoga mat, also

called a sticky mat. The mat helps define your personal space, and,

more importantly, it creates traction for your hands and feet so you

don’t slip, especially as you get a little sweaty. The mat also

provides a bit of cushioning on a hard floor.

Most gyms provide mats and studios have them for rent, usually for a

dollar or two per class. This is fine for your first few classes, but

the disadvantage to these mats is that lots of people use them and

you can't be sure how often they're being cleaned, so you may

consider buying your own.

Premium yoga mats can be expensive, often around $80 to $120, but

it's possible to find a starter mat for as little as $20 from

retailers like Target and Amazon. Just keep in mind, if you decide to

buy a cheaper mat, you'll probably find yourself replacing it in

short order if you use it often. If you're really ready to commit

to a yoga practice, your mat is one place it's worth it to lay

out some cash.

Decide which mat features are important to you—for instance, length,

thickness, material, durability, comfort, traction, or how to keep it

clean—then buy a mat with good reviews based on your needs. Manduka

and Lululemon are known for the quality of their Pro Mat and The

Reversible Mat, respectively, but other brands, including Jade and

Yellow Willow, also offer high-quality, durable mats with good

traction and support.

Yoga props are a boon to a fledgling suede yoga mat

practice. Props allow students to maintain the healthiest alignment

in a range of poses as the body bends, twists, and opens up. They

also help you get the most out of each pose while avoiding injury.1

You should familiarize yourself with the props described below, but

you don't need to buy your own (unless you're starting a home

practice) because they are almost always provided by studios and


Mat Bags or Slings
If you own your own yoga mat, and you're going to be lugging it

back and forth to the studio on a regular basis, there's a

legitimate case to be made for purchasing a mat bag or sling. These

accessories do exactly what they suggest—they make it easy for you

to sling your rolled mat over your shoulder without it coming


Slings usually use velcro straps to bind your mat in its rolled

configuration with a connecting strap you can throw over your

shoulder. Slings sometimes offer additional pockets for storage, but

not always. Bags, on the other hand, typically come in one of two

styles. One version uses velcro straps to keep your rolled mat secure

against a larger gym bag. The other version is essentially a snap- or

zipper-closure bag specifically designed to hold your rolled mat.

Both styles provide extra storage for clothing, wallets, cell phones,

and the like.

The style and brand you choose really comes down to personal

preference and budget, as slings can cost as little as $10, and

heavy-duty bags can cost well over $100. For variety, check out

YogaOutlet, where you can find an array of brands at reasonable


Yoga studios usually have stacks of blankets available for students

to use during class. Grab one or two blankets at the beginning of


Folded blankets can be used to lift the hips during seated poses, or

to offer support during lying poses. For instance, when you sit

cross-legged, you can place a blanket under your sit bones to elevate

the hips above your knees. Blankets come in handy for all sorts of

things during class, and if it’s chilly, you can use them to cover

up during the final relaxation.

For a home practice, there's truly no reason to purchase new

blankets. Simply use what you already have on hand around the house.

If, however, you don't own any extra blankets, YogaOutlet offers

them for as little as $13.

Like blankets, yoga blocks are used to make you more comfortable and

improve your alignment. Blocks are particularly useful for standing

poses in which your hands are supposed to be on the floor.

Placing a block under your hand has the effect of "raising the

floor" to meet your hand rather than forcing the hand to come to

the floor while effectively compromising some other part of the pose.

This can be seen in half moon pose. Many people don't have the

hamstring flexibility or core strength to hold the position with

proper form.

By placing a block under the hand that's reaching toward the

floor, it's easier to keep the chest open and torso strong.

Without the block, the chest might be inclined to turn toward the

floor, the supporting knee might be inclined to bend, and the torso

might be inclined to "collapse." The simple use of the

block helps maintain proper alignment.

Yoga blocks are made of foam, wood, or cork. They can be turned to

stand at three different heights, making them very adaptable. If you

plan to do a lot of swivel at home it's worth it to get a

set of blocks (helpful for poses where both hands are reaching toward

the ground). If you're going to attend classes, blocks will be

provided for you.

The good news is, almost any block is sufficient, so this is an area

you don't have to worry too much about scrimping on. But slightly

wider blocks—those that are at least four-inches wide—provide

better stability. YogaOutlet and Amazon offer several sizes and

styles for under $10 each. If you're willing to pay a little

more, Yoga Hustle offers some fun options for $24 a pop.

Yoga straps, also called belts, are particularly useful for poses

where you need to hold onto your feet but cannot reach them. The

strap basically acts as an arm extender. For instance, in

pascimottanasana, if you can't reach your feet with your hands in

the seated forward fold, you can wrap the strap around the bottom of

your feet and hold onto the strap to maintain a flat back instead of

slumping forward.

Straps are also great for poses where you bind your hands behind the

back (marichyasana, for example). If your shoulders don't allow

enough flexibility for the bind, you can use a strap to

"connect" both hands without excess strain. And with the

strap's help, you can move your hands toward each other over time

to make progress toward the full bind.

You probably have something around your house that would work as a

strap (like a belt or even a towel) and yoga studios supply them for

use during class. That said, if you really want to buy an official

version, it's hard to beat the price of YogaOutlet, where you can

find straps for under $10.

Bolsters have many uses for yoga students. You can use them in place

of a stack of blankets to make seated and forward bending poses more

comfortable. You can place them under your knees or your back when

reclining for support and passive stretching. They are particularly

handy in restorative and prenatal yoga classes. If you take this type

of class, the bolsters will be provided. If you want to do

restorative yoga at home, it may be worth it to invest in your own


The are two basic bolster shapes: round and flat (more of a

rectangular shape). Flat bolsters tend to be more ergonomic; however,

round bolsters can be useful when you want more support or a deeper

stretch. It comes down to personal preference.

If you have the option, use both styles in class before you decide

which one best suits your home practice. Amazon is the best place to

shop for sheer variety and price, but if you want a pretty bolster,

check out Hugger Mugger, Inner Space, or Chattra. The prices are in

line with the marketplace ($40 to $80), and the designs are bright

and beautiful.

Yoga wheels are a relatively new prop starting to gain a foothold in

the yoga studio. These wheels are roughly 12-inches in diameter and

are about four-inches wide. When set upright, you can lie back on the

wheel or place a foot or hand on top of the wheel to deepen your

stretches and enhance flexibility, slowly rolling the wheel farther

as you relax into each stretch. Wheels can also be used in more

advanced practices as a way to challenge stability or to offer

support during challenging poses.

While it's unlikely that you'll need a yoga wheel as a

beginner, you may want to consider a purchase down the line. Most

wheels range in price from $40 to $60. Yoga Design Lab, for instance,

offers one for $48.





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