Let me begin this post by saying you don't really need anything to do yoga - it can be done anywhere, at anytime, with only your body and your willingness to listen to it. As a Western society, we have really sold into the idea that we need material things to make us happy - we believe that having more will make us more complete. The reality of it is, yoga in and of itself can lead us to a level of self awareness in understanding that we already are complete.
That being said, I'm a big fan of stretchy pants and sticky mats. So, if you plan on practicing at a gym or studio, there are a few things that may give you a good head start.
1. Yoga Mat
Mats provided by studios are great to use in a pinch, but, as a fellow yogi once said, it's like "sharing underwear with someone you don't know." If our faces are going to be intimate with the mat, we want to make sure that mat hasn't also been intimate with someone else's stinky feet. Catch my drift?
The first mat I ever purchased was from TJMaxx. It wasn't anything fancy...I actually chose it because I liked the pattern. Surprisingly, that pattern helped my practice in many ways: 1) After awhile, I was able to pinpoint where on the design my hands and feet should be placed for proper alignment in down dog, and 2) it actually inspired me to practice more often. I love(d) this mat so much that, even when I got a much nicer mat one Christmas, I continued to practice with ol' faithful directly beneath it for a month.
Find something that inspires you. Something you can't bear to see kept tucked away in your closet (or hidden beneath a pile of crushed goldfish in the back of your car...ahem...). If your joints are sensitive to hard floors, I would recommend looking for something thick. If you have a tendency to sweat, seek out a stickier mat that will keep your hands and feet from sliding all over the place, or consider adding a yoga towel on top of your mat. If you're running to class with a child(ren) in tow, a thinner mat like the Jade Travel Mat (my current mat) is perfect - it's crazy light and rolls up small enough to carry on top of your diaper bag. Whatever it is, make it your own.
2. Comfortable, fitted attire
Again, I'm not here to sell you on anything fancy or expensive, but when practicing in a studio or gym, it's helpful to wear comfortable, fitted clothes. Why?
Comfort: If you're uncomfortable, your mind will not be on your practice. You will be tugging your shirt down, cursing your sagging belly. You'll be pulling your pants up, wondering why you chose to wear a thong to practice. And if you're wearing a bra that's cutting into your ladies, you'll probably just be angry the entire time, which is clearly counter productive. Find something comfortable, wear it, rinse, and repeat.
Fitted: If you're just embarking on your yoga practice, wearing fitted clothes can actually help you have the best start. Your instructor can see whether or not your knee is extending past your ankle, if you're fully opening your chest to the side mat, if your shoulders are pulled down away from your ears, etc. With baggy clothes, it's more difficult to decipher these key safety elements which could contribute to an injury. Plus, if you're wearing a baggy shirt, you'll just be pulling it over your belly in every down dog, amirite?
3. Have an open mind and an open heart
If there's one element you can take away from this post, please let this be it. Yoga is not the place for expectations. We are here for the journey, not the end result (although a cute butt is always a bonus). The moment you free yourself from the expectation of what you will accomplish on the mat - especially based on your judgement of what others around you are doing - the second you will truly enjoy your practice. I've seen so many people frustrated because they fell out of an asana or couldn't get their leg as high as they wanted. Rather than shaming yourself, thank your standing leg for supporting your entire body in that pose. Give grace to your feet and hands for keeping you stable and safe during your practice. Show yourself forgiveness and it will translate off the mat.
A lot of people say they can't do yoga because they're "not flexible enough" or "can't bend that way". But let me ask you this: where else can you start from but from the beginning? Flexibility and strength come in time and with practice. Keep challenging yourself, and you will be amazed by what you will accomplish in just a month.
And finally, I have met a lot of people who never return to their mat because of a bad teacher or class. I've personally struggled with this one. Unless a teacher has caused harm (whether through physical touch, incorrect cueing, or something emotionally disturbing), it's important to remember that everyone has their own teaching style. Keep trying different teachers and classes until you find something and someone that you love. Whatever it is, don't stop. Your perfect practice is out there.
Whether you're a beginner, a seasoned yogi, or just getting back on the mat after a long absence, I would love the opportunity to share a bit of my practice with you.
Need childcare while you practice? We have sitters available to watch your littles, just footsteps away from the studio.
Check out my current small group schedule and let's begin a new journey together.