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Where Do We Begin?

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?