8 Yoga Essentials That Instructors Can't Live Without

By , SparkPeople Blogger

Yoga is a practice that's been around for thousands of years. While there are different forms of yoga, the basic principles apply to each method: focus on your breathing, postures, flexibility and meditation. Many yogis practice for the spiritual aspect of the process, as it links your mind and body as you work through the postures and learn to breathe with intent.

Even if yoga seems intimidating, the great thing about it is that anyone can do it, at any level. However, if you're brand new to yoga or want to take your practice up a notch, there are products that yoga instructors swear by that can help get you in the zone and feel more comfortable while you work through your flow.

Sure, 5,000 years ago the first yogis probably didn't use mat sprays or use buckled straps, but we bet they wish they did!  

1. Yoga Mat

Photo courtesy of Amazon

If you plan to practice yoga regularly, you should invest in a high-quality mat. "One of my favorite yoga mats is the Jade Yoga Mat (starting at $74.95). It's not too grippy but has enough stick to it that you don't slide or feel like your hands [or] feet are going to fly out from under you," Val Minos, a yoga instructor and certified holistic nutritionist at Alt Yoga Vibe says.

2. Yoga Blanket

Photo courtesy of Amazon

A yoga blanket (like this one from Open Road Goods, $34.99) can be used for multiple purposes during your practice. "You can use it as a blanket for savasana, or roll it and use it under your back or legs as support for seated or lying poses," private yoga instructor Angel Renee says. "It’s also great for end-of-class meditation: Just fold several times and place [it] under you before sitting for meditation."
3. Mat Towel

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Whether you're a hot yoga devotee or just tend to work up a sweat during your yoga class, you're going to want to keep a towel handy. And not just any towel will do. No, you'll want one that helps wick away moisture, dries quickly, won't harbor bacteria, is easy to pack and use, and will keep you cool. Giovanna Abraham, a yoga instructor at the University of Windsor, recommends this yoga towel from Relefree ($13.99) because "it's lightweight and fits into everything!"

4. Yoga Blocks

Photo courtesy of Lululemon

Yoga blocks are a great prop for beginners and practitioners of all levels. They can be used as a hand or foot rest when you cannot reach the floor during a certain pose, or they can serve as a support for your limbs or back. With three heights and a lightweight construction, yoga blocks easily assist with both flexibility and alignment.

Yoga instructor and life coach Helen Sian India loves a good Lululemon block ($14). "Blocks allow you to sit tall in sukhasana, deepen postures when you want, but also keep your alignment on point so you always know you’re looking after your body," she explains. "I love to use blocks when I’m meditating and cannot get enough of a supported bridge—resting your tailbone on the block feels like heaven."

5. Yoga Mist

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India also swears by a good mat mist. "It can help to keep your mat smelling fresh, and the oils help you to relax when you need [it] or energize when you want a boost." Try  Aura Cacia's Organic Body, Mat and Room Yoga Mist in Awakening Grapefruit and Lavandin ($8.99) for a great pre-class pick-me-up. The mist is made of 100 percent pure essential oils and one percent of every sale is given back to organic farmers and their communities. Simply spray on your mat before class begins to experience a more mindful practice and to inspire a more flowing movement to your poses.

6. Yoga Jellies

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"My favorite yoga equipment is a pair of YogaJellies ($55)," Ashley Matejka, an instructor and the founder of Wellevance says. "Have bad knees? YogaJellies are a great way to protect your joints during practice, especially [your] knees and wrists. Most of us have been conditioned to persevere through pain, but YogaJellies allow you to challenge your body during your practice without the counterproductive pain."

7. Yoga Straps

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Yoga straps (like this one from REHUTT, starting at $5.49), are awesome for beginners and those who aren't very flexible. They assist during poses where your arms aren't long enough or for when you can't reach your feet or angle around to stretch other body parts. Straps provide length and put limbs within reach. While you could use any sturdy rope or scarf, yoga straps have a buckle to help you create a loop for your hand or foot.

"Having certain tools at your disposal can certainly deepen your practice and enhance your overall experience," Jillian Amodio, a yoga instructor at Parker Place says. "A strap [...] can help lessen the intensity of stretches while allowing you to enjoy more of the benefits of stretching."

8. Yoga Bolsters

Photo courtesy of Amazon

"Yoga bolsters are pillows that can support your body and help you relax in various poses," Stepfanie Romine, a yoga instructor and blogger at The Flexible Kitchen shares. "They are great for beginners, as they can help you stay longer in poses while remaining comfortable. You can relax and stretch while you focus on your breath, not supporting your body."

This bolster from Hugger Mugger ($58.24) is firm and made with durable, long-lasting fabric with a flat top and bottom to help you remain stable through all of your poses.

Which yoga accessories do you love?

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