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What Equipment Do I Need to Pratice Yoga?

Yoga ToysUsing yoga as medicine can improve patient satisfaction and patient outcomes, but did you also know it can lower your overhead costs?  Many students, patients, and clinicians alike wonder exactly what equipment they need to use yoga as medicineeffectively. I have found, anecdotally, that in my 20 years of practice, the “yoga toys” (pictured at right) are the only equipment I have ever needed. Sure, I do also use the clinic walls, chairs, and sometimes have patients do yoga in the pool (aquatic therapy). But walls and chairs are typically part and parcel of your space or home.

To get started, here are the “yoga toys” you will need:

  • Yoga mat – I use thicker mats than the typical 1/16 or 1/8 inch. I recommend 1/4 inch x 26 inch x 72 inch mats. Investing in a professional mat will save you money in the long run. The pro mat I bought 10 years ago is still in amazing condition and will likely last into my third decade of yoga practice. By contrast, the previous 10 years of my yoga practice saw 3 yoga mats, all of them breaking down within just a few years. Pro mats start at around $60 and go up. Regular yoga mats are typically $60 and under.
  • Yoga blankets – Mexican blankets are perhaps, hands-down, the best option for a yoga blanket. Two blankets are typically adequate for individual practice. There are some guidelines to follow when searching for blankets, however. First, make sure you order or purchase your blankets at the same time. Typically, Mexican blankets are all different sizes, and you need symmetrical blankets to achieve good results in yoga. Second, make sure you choose blankets which fit your body. The blankets pictured at right fit me perfectly because they are long (which means the blanket is wider on its short side). Short-torso’d folks, however, are not going to like the fit of a wide Mexican blanket. Taller folks than me (I am 5’7”) are going to need extra-wide blankets (hard to find) or simply buy a third blanket to make yoga postures fit their body best. Blankets are typically around $25 and up each.
  • Yoga blocks – Foam or cork blocks are best. Measurements should be a minimum of 4 inches in thickness. Length is typically standard for all blocks. Anything less than 4 inches in thickness is a fall hazard for modifying standing postures, and is typically too thin to be much assistance during floor postures. Bamboo and wood blocks are slick and heavy, making them cumbersome fall hazards for many postures. Blocks are about $10 each.
  • Therapy Ball – All sizes of therapy or Swiss balls work wonderfully for adaptive yoga. I rarely use them to sit on, as is done in physio-or physical therapy.  This negates the need for custom fitting the ball to the individual. In a clinical setting though, I would have all three sizes available (55 cm, 65 cm, and 75 cm).  Balls are around $25 each.
  • Yoga Strap – A quick-release buckle on a cotton (not nylon) strap is safer and efficient for practicing yoga as medicine. I recommend a 10′ cotton strap with a quick-release (not a thread through) buckle. Straps are about $6-$12 each.
  • Optional: Bolsters – This is a tricky one, because there are an endless array of bolster sizes and shapes. Early on, I did not have the funds to purchase a myriad of bolsters. Plus, they are expensive and cloth covered, which makes them a haven for bacteria collection in a public clinic or studio.  For that reason, I only purchased two rectangular bolsters (see one pictured at right), and that was only after 13 years of yoga practice. I needed it for a special population (pregnancy) and found it to be very useful. However, the bolster was simply more convenient to use, not essential to have.  I could have still modified postures with Mexican blankets. Plus, I have to cover the bolsters when working with patients, using a clean pillowcase for every patient. This means I use the bolster less, and ultimately have patients purchase their own Mexican blankets, as I consider both bolsters and blankets to be “personal items.”  Bolsters are around $50 and up.
  • Optional: Rug or Towel – Some folks sweat a lot or have a difficult time with practicing yoga on a thin mat. In those cases I recommend they consider shopping for a yoga rug or a microfiber yoga towel. Both lay over your mat, and can be good for thinner individuals (think vata types) or those who sweat buckets during practice (think pitta types). These start at around $25 and up.

Now you are ready for yoga!

Resources

I am not financially affiliated with any website or product, but I have found tha Yoga Accessories can be very helpful in ordering wholesale and bulk yoga equipment, as well as individual yoga toys.

by Ginger Garner, founder of PYTI