I had no intention - and I mean NO! INTENTION! AT! ALL! to become a person who owns 3 yoga bags, 8 mats, sprays, an entire box of essential oils to use in everyday life, yoga blocks (both cork and foam) head stand chair, meditational timer, around 342 pairs of yoga pants in varying colour, bras and shirts in ALL colours/forms/with inspirational words on/long sleeved - short sleeved - without sleeves.
But that's the thing! When you get really into something you become more and more critical about the accessories you work with and you know the finer details of the material you need (you need more/less grip? Or a mat easily folded?) and you tend to continuously upgrade it.
I suppose it works like your computer...... when there's a pop-up about updates you click it because you know the pc will be slow and annoying in the work if the newest upgrade isn't applied! .... but in my world I have to go out and look for specifics in the material I choose as an independant yoga teacher and therapist. That means a lot of work on my part - something I gladly do because I know the effects of the upgrade will benefit my daily life, my classes and my clients. On top of that I have a large base of different experiences that I can share - and maybe it will make you find out what kind of essential yoga accessories you need when you start your yogic way. So this post is about what you need, what you don't need, what kinds of questions you should pose and I'll give you tips on where to look as well.
So - where do you start if you're new to the yoga world and don't really know if it's something that would help you or want to pursue? Well, I preach simplicity! Make it simple until you know if it's for you. You can go online and search "beginners yoga mat" and there will be lots of advice. Or - you can be as lucky as I was buying my first yoga set in a discount shop on offer containing mat, 2 blocks and a strap very cheap. Some people would say that it has to be a certain quality and you don't get that somewhere like that, but I would point out that for a beginner it's more about getting your first mat to check how you actually feel, and THEN you can start finding out which mat suits your needs.
My general findings are that there are basically 2 types of mats:
This is 0.8-1,2 centimeters thick have the same dimensions as a normal yoga mat. It's heavy and nice to sit on, as it feels as if you "sink in" in poses where you sit, are on your hands and knees. Good alternative if you have problems with knees and hips.
There are different types of surfaces so make sure to check if it's is a non-glide mat otherwise you can get into trouble in standing poses as the mat can glide away from you and make you unsafe in your pose.
My experiences are that it is not good for balancing poses, one legged stand and tree pose as you don't have any "grounding" feeling through this thick mat. No worries - you can easily move onto the floor beside you mat to do those if you opt for this sort of mat. Difficult to roll and it stays in the shape after it's rolled out at your class.
A traditional yoga mat is thinner and easier to roll or fold. It can be from 0,6 centimeters think and upwards. I tend to like my 0,8 centimeter mat, it's got a nice support and I can still feel the floor though it in balancing poses. The good thing about this thickness is that you can fold up the mat if you need a bit more support under hands and knees in poses on all four, and you still have a mat that is thin.
When I started yoga I did what a lot of people do; go online and write "how to choose a yoga mat" and there is loads of websites and help you can get. I got more and more confused when I looked though these pages and reviews in the different webshops, saw more and more possibilities and choices for yoga I didn't even know existed and eventually I had more questions than answers...... and I bought a mat for around 100$, and I ripped the surface of it the first time I turned my foot into Warrior 2........ and I don't wan't you to go through that and that is why I'm doing this blog on how to have the best help!
If you go into the webshops they will have the reviews that will make their material sell! They contact the people connected to their shop and ask them to do a review, and how do you do an unbiased one if you are offered something in exchange?
On top of that you risk getting even more confused as you realise the range of different choices and options (hot yoga mats, extra lengths mats, alignment mats, mats with more width, and so on) and you are likely to forget that you are just in need of a basic mat to start everything off with!
If you go on general websites for consumers where you can test and look for different types of goods you also have to be cautious as these pages sometimes get advertising or even goods offered in exchange for a nice review. And my tip would be to look for a broad selection of goods then it's not a site specialising in one range, so chances are that there is a wider forum of people doing the assessments and reviews. My advice would be to try something like https://www.consumersadvocate.org/yoga-mats as it shows different types of mats, and the testing is done not just by oner but 30 people - and then the overall result is published.
On top of checking it online here's a few pointers that I would remember when you're looking for your first mat:
- you are only looking for a basic and there is no need to use too much money! That will come later, trust me!
- if you have a possibility to try out different mats in your yoga or fitness center, DO IT!
- do a couple of trial runs of your mat and then note down every time you think of something that's annoying about it. Collect these notes if you decide to go on doing yoga.
- listen to what your yoga friends say, all insights are valuable!
- make it simple! Always!
Then there's only one thing left!! Get on with it! Look for a mat, start your journey and be certain that the PERFECT mat will come to you in time! You just need to know what you're looking for - and that comes with time and practice!! Good luck!