Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Essential gear for the beginner yogi

    When you are starting a new fitness activity it can be overwhelming and confusing to shop for gear.  You ask yourself what is the basic necessities to get started.  There is so much that friends with good intentions tell you that  you "need".   There is a lot of fantastic gear but only a few items that I recommend to start with AND it doesn't have to break the bank!

  Yoga is so much more than just the asanas or poses.   For most beginners just starting out though, the movement paired with the breath is the easiest place to begin.  Where do you do that movement?  On a yoga mat!   Home is most definitely where the mat is!

  Do you need any gear to practice yoga?   No.  Just like running, walking, and many fitness activities you don't need any gear.  You just go out and do it.   Thankfully yoga is done barefoot so no shoes are needed and yoga will strengthen your feet which in turn helps in running  and other fitness activities.

  But just like with running, the terrain and distance might call for some kind of footwear.  Barefoot is the best tool but not the only one!  Same goes for yoga.  The terrain matters too and thats where a mat comes in handy.

  To deepen your practice and have more flexibility in where you practice I recommend 3 basic pieces of yoga equipment.

   First and foremost the one thing that you should invest in is a yoga mat.   A yoga mat pads the ground as well as provides a grippy surface.  When you put your body on the mat, you don't slip around.   You can take your mat anywhere and I highly recommend doing yoga in nature even if its just your backyard.  It's a lovely experience!

  I have had many mats and to start with, go with one that fits your budget.   The key to starting out is to start.  Don't fret over the gear too much,  just pick up a mat and start.   You can worry about details and try out different brands later.



  Second,  I recommend yoga blocks.

 Every single person doing yoga is different in mind, body, and spirit.  Every single person is in a different place in their journey.

  Some people are naturally quite bendy and people like me are strong but not very bendy at all.   Yoga blocks are there to bridge gaps and accommodate all levels of flexibility and strength.    You can still move through a flow and work on proper alignment and form with modifications.

 Proper alignment and form is far more important than how far into a pose you can possibly get!   Make sure and get two blocks though.  For a lot of poses you need a block for each hand.    Modifications are brilliant and are for everyone!

This is only a handful of poses that can be modified with blocks. 

 Yoga blocks allow you to still move your body through asanas that may not be fully attainable right now but still beneficial.    You have to start somewhere, but you don't have to miss out on anything.   Blocks reduce your likelihood of injury.

 Third, a yoga strap is so excellent for many poses.  A strap, like blocks helps with alignment and form and lets you practice a pose based on where you are right now.

 It's difficult to let go of the ego and accept where you are in your yoga journey whether you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran.  I have to constantly work to let go of expectations and comparisons to other people.    This is true for any fitness activity so take what you learn from yoga and apply it to the rest of life and you will then start to work on the other parts of yoga that are off the mat.

  There are pictures and videos all over the internet showing gorgeous sleek bodies bending and doing cirque de soile types of poses.  It's hard to let go of the end result and accept that where you are right now is exactly where you should be.  Those bendy people doing those crazy poses want more too and are just like us folks in that regard.  Its about the journey not the end result.

I use a strap for Pincha Mayurasana, keeping the elbows under the shoulders. 

  One thing that I learned about yoga and the use of props that still amazes me daily is that the body changes daily.   Some days I can move through asanas with ease and then the next day  I just don't move the same.  For whatever reasons, whether its soreness, fatigue, or just a weird day with no explanation, blocks and straps allow you to still practice without injury.


  So, where do you get this stuff?  I have found that The Clymb, which has discounts of up to 70% off retail, is a fine place to start.   Yoga is meant to relieve stress so take it easy starting out and give yourself a solid but attainable foundation.   Peace and love to you yogi!!

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Cheers,
Angie Bee
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