What Do I Need for At-Home Yoga?


Yoga newcomers, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of fitness gear out there. Maybe you’ve never taken a yoga class, or maybe you’ve gone to a few, or you might even be a seasoned professional. Creating a yoga practice at home, though, is different from going to a yoga studio. That being said, you can create your very own home studio with just a few practical things… and maybe a few extras for the atmosphere. Everyone’s practice looks a little different, so pick and choose what works for you. Let’s get into it.

Yoga Mat

This is the first and most obvious item on the list. Finding the perfect yoga mat can be a challenge, so think about what kind of support you need, what materials you’d prefer, and what colors you like. If you need a little more support, you might opt for a more plush yoga mat. If you’re vegan, you may want to stay away from more luxurious suede. Vinyl is the most common, and its eco-friendly cousin is recycled rubber. Consider thickness, portability, and how well you stand on the mat itself. You want it to have some grip. Additionally, some mats are pricier than others. Decide what’s most important to you and go from there.

Popular retailers are Gaiam and Manduka, but there are some newcomers like Popflex, which carries a vegan suede mat (on the pricier side). Weigh the alternatives, or look into other brands. This is where you’ll be doing all your moves, so really take this into consideration!

Props

This is where customization of your practice comes in a bit more. The use of blocks helps fill gaps — if you can’t quite reach the ground, for example — and makes sure you are supported. Blocks can also be used to make other poses more challenging. Most blocks are the same and can be found on the same links as above, but Yoloha Yoga carries a cork block instead of traditional foam ones.

Then there are straps. Straps are used much in the same way blocks are, only to cover longer distances for poses that require a great amount of flexibility, like scorpion pose. It is a length of durable but flexible material that can be used to carry your mat as well. These are fairly uniform and can be found on the links above. They’ll usually have some metal rings that lock together, so the strap doesn’t slip.

Cushions are great for poses and positions where the mat isn’t quite soft enough. They can also provide support for seated meditation or even for yin yoga, a form of yoga that involves lots of blankets and pillows. (Cozy, right?) You can simply use pillows from home, but most yoga cushions are firmer than home pillows and have a sturdier feel. They are round and designed to be sat on. Verywell Mind determined this one from Amazon as the best overall.

Yoga wheels are a little advanced, but they’re great for deepening stretches like the splits or relieving stress in parts of the body. It’s essentially just a round plastic or wooden wheel lined with a more comfortable material like foam or cork. They’ve definitely caught the attention of mainstream media, but keep in mind that most high-quality wheels are upwards of $60, like this one from Yoloha Yoga. If you want a cheaper option, check out the Seigla wheel.

Mat Care

Most mats are easy to clean with a little warm water and dish soap (just stick it in a bathtub), but you may want to invest in a mat cleaner to get extra grossness/odor off your mat. In that case, find an essential oil-based spray and wipe it down with a towel after each session to avoid needing to clean your mat so often (or, in case you have a Popflex mat that really shouldn’t get wet). This mat cleaner on Amazon is perfect for that.

Atmosphere

Let’s face it: there’s nothing quite like the feeling of stepping into the yoga studio. There are a few ways you can curate those peaceful vibrations in your own home, starting with having a designated yoga space. You might want to take your mat outside, bring it to the gym, or take it on a trip with you. But having a designated space at home (if that’s possible) will get your mind in the right place for all those good stretches. Many yoga spaces have plants nearby because the greenery has a calming effect and promotes better air quality. It’s all about what you want in your space.

Lighting can also be a factor. My personal favorite is this set of warm white curtain lights, which can make a room feel instantly cozier. Perhaps you’d rather practice near a big window as the sun comes up, or you want to light candles on your windowsill. You could even add a salt lamp like this one. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to see what you’re doing, but you should feel at ease when you walk into the room.

Essential oils remind me of a yoga class as soon as I smell them, so a diffuser and oils might be a good investment. Note that some essential oils are not good for pets, so here’s a list of oils you shouldn’t have if you’re a cat or dog owner. The Spruce called this diffuser the best overall and this one the best for a budget. (However, they don’t have much of a price difference.) Some excellent oil brands are Now, Saje, and doTERRA. You’ll be smelling good in no time.

Clothing

The most important thing when choosing clothes for your yoga practice is this: can you move? If the answer is no, whether it be that your outfit is too tight or too heavy or too whatever, don’t buy it for yoga. Your practice is about form, not fashion… but thankfully, there are some lovely combinations of both out there! This pair of leggings from Madewell got a big thumbs up from Refinery 29, while this pair from Lululemon is one of the best for yoga specifically. However, sometimes the best yoga outfit is just a pair of shorts and a tucked t-shirt or a sports bra if you wear them. Choose what makes you feel the most comfortable and free.

There are a lot of things to think about, so let’s recap: mat, props, something to clean your mat, atmospheric additions, and clothing. Remember that a yoga practice is curated to each individual, so you may only need a mat, or you might want to add things not listed here. Whatever you choose, I wish you a happy and healthy home practice.

Much love,

-el ❤

2020: what you should be doing.


It’s the time of year where all the yadda-yadda about goals and fitness plans get spewed all over the internet. Now, it’s fine to be “working on your summer body,” whatever that means, but there are some things that definitely need to be done. I don’t have to tell you what those things are — they’re up to you — but I can give you an idea of what to think about.

Who are you right now? Who will you be? One of my favorite exercises, as we wind down the year, is drawing my current and future self. I’m not the best at drawing, but I draw a typical outfit, hairstyle, and expression of myself at this very moment. I then list aspects of my life: spirituality, physical health, mental health, relationships, aspirations… I get brutally honest with who I am and what I want at this moment. Then, I move to the next page and draw who I will be in a year. Again, exactly what outfit, hairstyle, and expression I’ll be wearing. What do this person’s spirituality, physical health, mental health, relationships, aspirations… look like? What’s happening one year from now? Notice the wording I use. Not what I want to be. What I will be.

What is your 2020 “theme?” I did a lot of reflection to figure out what my theme will be for next year, but I’ve decided on “discovery.” I’m entering college in the fall of 2020, as some of my more avid readers know, and it’s a chance to figure out who I want to be. I’m sure every naïve college freshman says that, but it’s okay for me to want a fresh start. It’s okay that I plan to make some stupid decisions. I toyed around with “learning” or “change,” but “discovery” makes me feel like I’m uncovering a mystery this upcoming year. Like 2020 will be rare, novel, and fun. That’s what I want my life to feel like. What’s your word? If you’ve settled into the same routine for a few years, that’s alright. But what are you chasing this year? Maybe it’s more money. Maybe your word is “stability.” Or maybe you want to develop your relationships, so your word is “love.” Do some thinking.

What can you do to embody that theme? I love this part because it’s where you have to generate some kind of action! New year goals are so completely useless without action behind them. Like, yes, I can say I want to be an Olympic swimmer, but unless I make a plan to get into the pool, I’m never gonna get there. (I do not, for the record, have any interest in Olympic sports.) So for me, I’m going to create discovery by doing these things:

  • get inspired by following other writers, musicians, and other creators
  • travel to new places
  • absorb more media (podcasts, youtube, books, documentaries…)
  • spend more time in nature
  • journal in the mornings
  • meditate at night — just sit and get quiet

How do you want to feel? If you can’t answer that just yet, think about how you feel now. Go back to your current/future self. Maybe you feel unmotivated, and you want to feel excited. I wrote down that I want to feel joyful, awake, clear, and inspired. If you wanted, you could go even further to consider how you will feel that way. For example: to bring in more joy, I’m doing the 30 Days of Joy challenge by Rebecca Kochenderfer. You can find it here when you join Journaling.com.

What will you let go of? I love this question. We, as people, love to complain. This is a form of constructive complaint. Write down everything you hate and want to go. Crappy interactions with coworkers, road rage, spending too much on not-so-great coffee… Write it all down. You might write: fear, unhealthy eating, overwhelm, feeling stagnant, passive mindset… As you write it, acknowledge that you denounce those things. Throw it in the fireplace if it feels right.

What will you let in? Again, pay attention to my wording here. What are you going to allow to surround your life? What will you let give you hope, joy, inspiration, confidence? This suggests that these things are already knocking at the door of your life. You simply need to open it. When you do, you may be inviting free time, fluidity, love, rest, health… into your life. Take a deep breath and acknowledge that the only barrier (within your control) between you and your desires is your own will. What do you want?

So now, we’ve answered the hard questions. The prompt I have for you now is, will 2020 be a year of action? Or reaction?

-ellynn ❤

P.S. I’ve been using the WordPress free photo library for quite some time, but today, I’ve included an original photo! I’m still not great with photography, but I hope that I’m able to post more original visual content. Enjoy 🙂