With yoga now such a massive part of the western world, it comes as no surprise that yoga products are also taking the world by storm. You’ll often hear beginner practitioners walk into a studio for the first time and ask, “So, about a mat. What do I look for? How do I know which one to get? There are so many options.” Meanwhile, seasoned yogis are seemingly hoarding yoga leggings because there are so many appealing choices out there nowadays. Whether we like it or not, yoga accessories are indeed “a thing” and part of a very booming market.
The following blog gives insight on how best to select your personal yoga gear and also hones in on some of the current top yoga brands and products for a delightful experience on (and off!) your mat.
While ancient yogis simply used the bare earth or even deer or tiger skins as a base for their yoga practice, the rubber mat you typically see in classes today was not ever even used until about 35 years ago. Crazy to think, right? What started as a simple piece of rubber has morphed into its own business, with mats coming in all shapes and sizes, colours, lengths and widths, with various textures for various preferences. They also vary drastically in price, from $10 to $200.
You might be asking, “Why would I spend that much money for a mat when I can simply borrow one each time I attend a class?” Well, the biggest reason to have your own personal mat deals directly with hygiene. Do you really want to be utilizing a mat that multiple other people have left their sweat and other bodily fluids on? There’s really only so much that a quick wipe post-class with a tea tree and h20 solution can do. So what do you look for when it comes to choosing a mat?
Consider your body type – size and height. Tall people, for instance, may wish to purchase a mat that is longer in length (the average mat is 68 inches long). If you’re quite bony or have sensitive joints, you probably want a thicker mat so that you are not always having to use extra props as cushion.
The type of yoga you generally practice may also make a difference as to what type of mat you go for. Hot yoga practitioner? You should definitely opt for a mat that is very sticky so you do not slip and slide all over the place. Do you typically practice mostly floor-based styles of yoga such as Yin or Restorative? Perhaps you would prefer a softer, thicker mat with more protection and padding.
Finally, are you most often engaging in a home practice where you simply tuck your mat away after Savasana? Do you have your one and only beloved studio where you go to flow and unwind? Or perhaps you’ve taken a gap year and are traveling the world. Take this all into consideration before making your mat purchase as yoga mats these days can range in weight from a couple pounds up to a whopping 8 pounds. Last thing you want when jet setting is to lug around an 8 pound mat along with all of your other belongings!
As far as favourite yoga mats, popular choices from past Shades of Yoga students include the Jade mat and the Manduka mat:
Just to make things more complicated, the Jade brand in and of itself offers multiple types of mats. There is the travel mat, which is great if you’re a yogi on the go, but its light weight due to its thinness may not offer enough cushion. Have no fear – Jade also offers thicker versions of their mats, providing more cushion but keep in mind that this adds a decent amount of overall weight to the mat so if you’re often transporting this mat from studio to studio or moving around a lot, it might not be the most useful option for you.
All Jade mats are made of natural rubber and therefore offer a super sticky surface, which is great if you’re prone to slipping easily. Another great selling point is the fact that Jade also plants a tree for every mat sold so go green and buy a Jade!
Another popular mat for your practice and the company has also introduced a variety of mat types. Manduka is best known for its high quality design, durability, and lifetime guarantee. The Manduka Pro lite and the Manduka Pro are the brand’s most popular mats, costing about $75 USD USD and $100 USD respectively.
They also offer the eko, eko lite, and superlite mats, which are, as their name implies, made from eco-friendly materials and lightweight, perfect for the traveling yogi. Practitioners report very little wear and tear even when using this mat frequently so although it may seem like a hefty sum to spend up front, it will likely be long lasting.
Everyone is different when it comes to yoga mat preferences, so try out your friend’s mats or different studio mats to get a gauge for what’s important to you before you make a investment, And while you may find it silly and unnecessary to have a certain kind of yoga mat, remember that your mat epitomizes your journey inwards, a space where you come to connect with your breath and let go of what you don’t need. Choose a good one.
Yoga Pants / Leggings
Yoga pants aren’t just for yoga class anymore. They are the comfy new alternative to jeans and are now worn year round by both yoga practitioners and also those who have never even stepped foot on a yoga mat. We’d wear them to work if we could (hey, if you’re a yoga teacher, it’s kind of compulsory and that’s pretty cool). Here’s how to scout for the best pair!
While some yogis prefer your standard black legging, others are shopping for the most vibrant, multi-colored pants out there, of which there are numerous brands selling these days. Whichever you fancy, most yogis would agree that comfort is key. After all, yoga pants were designed to allow you to be able to bend, stretch, and move freely and fluidly.
Now, again, is it really necessary to splash out large sums of cash for a pair of yoga pants? Typically, yes, as the quality will be better and will most likely last you a lot longer. Pants on the cheap side are usually made with cotton, which does not absorb sweat well and is more likely to stretch out and/or tear and the last thing we want is a rip in our pants while practicing Downward Facing Dog. Look for yoga pants that are made of nylon or lycra, as both are moisture wicking which will help your pants to maintain their shape and manage sweat better. Clothing made from these materials tend to be more breathable as well, which is always a plus.
Now on to some popular brands that also offer a wide range of pants, from low to high waist, full length or capri, plain or patterned.
Lovers of prAna comment on the softness of the pant material, stating that they are super stretchy but thick and always retain their shape. Students report that the color never fades even wash after wash and one pair typically last a very long time. Additionally, prAna is all about sustainability and supports organic cotton, fair trade, and wind power initiatives. They also have a liberal return/exchange policy and great customer service so if for some reason you are not happy, they are willing to work with you.
Courage My Love
A new kid on the block hailing from New Zealand that is becoming a popular choice for yoga pant purchases. These pants, also called legskins, are super thin, lightweight, and shiny and they’ve got some truly beautiful prints. Each pair is hand cut and sewn just for you! Originally designed to combat the sweat produced from practicing hot yoga, they’re quick dry and moisture wicking. Plus, the designer’s background story about how these pants became to be is incredibly inspiring.
Other widely known top name brands and companies that offer more affordable pants appropriate for yoga include Victoria’s Secret, Cotton On Body, Forever 21, Northface, C9 by Champion, Athleta and Nike.
Now that we’ve got the mat and clothing sorted, and while we remain on the topic of must-haves for your yoga practice, we thought we would highlight another helpful doodad to add to your list: a meditation app. We all live busy lives and often do not have time in our day to attend that 75 minute vinyasa class we love that happens to be on the other side of town. Maintaining a consistent practice is so important which is why some geniuses teamed up to create Headspace, an easily accessible app on your mobile phone or tablet, to help you on those hard, demanding days when you may only have a few minutes for your practice. Research shows 5 minutes of coming into stillness is better than none at all! Headspace might just be our favourite. The Headspace app, which is free to download, provides guided meditations and mindfulness for people on the go. Check it out!
So there you have it! We hope this discussion offers some helpful tips to assist you in picking out some wonderful yoga essentials. Just like when selecting your yoga mat, spending that little extra bit of money to invest in a high quality pair of yoga pants, and other clothing, usually pays off in the long run. Pick quality over quantity and your new product is likely to last longer.