As yoga is becoming more and more mainstream, so are the props available to you. There are always new items coming on the market, and you may ask yourself: “Do I really need all that?” , “which one is the best?” The answer is, for the most part “No”, you do not need all there is on the market to start yoga. You only need the few props that can be used at any level, and with just about any style of yoga.
Yoga props are used to provide support, enhance your practice by making it more attainable or more challenging regardless of your level.
A yoga mat is obviously the most important piece of equipment that you will need in yoga. It provides padding and keeps you from sliding. There are so many styles of yoga mats on the market that it can be overwhelming to know which one to buy. Some mats are more suitable to specific styles of yoga.
I would recommend you get some experience in yoga until you know which style you like, and are more likely to stick to for a while. At that point you will have a better idea of what type of mat is most suited to your favorite style of yoga as well as your preferences.
Yoga blocks can be used to bring the floor closer, such as when you try to reach your feet with your hands while standing. They can also be used to sit or lay on to make the pose either more comfortable or more challenging.
You will typically find three types of yoga blocks: foam, cork and wood.
Foam blocks are the lightest and the most comfortable when you need to rest your head or back on them.
Corks blocks provide more stability than foam blocks because they are heavier. This can be an advantage in balancing poses, for example.
Finally wood blocks are the heaviest and hardest on your body and they may slide in my opinion.
If you do not have your own blocks, you can use heavy books instead. Once you decide to invest in blocks, I would recommend starting with foam blocks.
Yoga straps make your arms longer such as when you are laying on your back trying to hold your feet with your hands for example:imagine you are laying on your back and trying to hold your feet in your hands while extending your knees. If you are unable to extend your knees while maintaining a neutral spine alignment, your strap will become handy.
Your yoga instructor will show you many other ways to use your strap.
If you do not have access to a yoga strap, start with a long towel, or a belt (judo belt, robe or pants).
Beyond a mat, a strap and blocks, which prop you need is really a personal preference based on the style of yoga you like, and your individual needs. For example, if you practice a lot of yin yoga, then additional props such as bolsters and blankets may be beneficial to provide more support to your poses. If you are into hot yoga on the other hand, having a yoga towel may be necessary to keep you from sliding, absorb your sweat, and help keep your mat clean.
This being said, if you do not have anything at all, just start with your own body, it’s been done for thousands of years!