Some people do yoga for the physical exercise. Others engage in the practice to help with stress relief. Some do it to keep their bodies flexible, while others value the state of mindfulness it promotes. Different people have different reasons for sticking with yoga’s mental and physical exercises. One thing’s for sure, though: it leads to good results for plenty of individuals.
That’s why, it’s not surprising how popular yoga has remained throughout the years. While fitness fads come and go, yoga’s combination of meditation, deep breathing, and physical poses have become a staple in many people’s fitness routines. Whether you do group yoga in a studio, workout privately with a trainer, or follow along by yourself to online videos, you can reap the full benefits of this centuries-old activity.
Truth be told, you don’t need much gear to do yoga properly. You can do most exercises, in fact, with nothing but a flat, clean floor while wearing loose clothing. However, using yoga accessories can really help enhance the experience. Yoga mats, for instance, provide grippy traction when executing various floor poses, while providing cushion to keep things comfortable for your knees and other joints. Yoga blocks can add stability and support to make those difficult yoga poses a bit less daunting. There are straps, towels, wheels, benches, and a whole load of other yoga accessories out there, too, which you can employ to further fine-tune your yoga workouts.
These are the best yoga accessories to help enhance your practice.
Gaiam Yoga Strap
The more you get into yoga, the more you want to push the limits of how flexible your body can get. A strap is the perfect yoga accessory for that, as you can loop it around any body part and grab the ends to pull that body part into place. This allows you to deepen the stretch for any targeted muscle, eventually working your way up to the time when the strap is no longer necessary to hold the same pose. This strap from Gaiam comes in two sizes, six and eight feet, each one coming with a metal D-ring on one end that you can use to make a secure loop. It’s made from polyester, so it should be durable enough to handle your yoga workouts.
Just like any yoga accessory you regularly sweat on, yoga mats can get pretty nasty. Seriously, you can smell the stink a fair distance away. While you can give it a proper handwashing, this spray-on cleaner is so much simpler and quicker. A water-based formula, this solution cleans your mat and gives it a pleasant fragrance that just makes it feel exceptionally fresh. Seriously, you can see the amount of gunk come off your mat after a quick wipe of the included microfiber cloth. Yikes. Even better, it leaves no residue, so you can feel your yoga mat’s full texture. It comes in a variety of scents, from peppermint and citrus to lavender and lemongrass, so just pick one that you like best (there’s also an unscented version, but the scented ones are more fun).
Yoga towels are great for absorbing and wicking sweat away when doing poses. Problem is, they tend to slide out of place a lot when you switch poses or perform movements. This yoga accessory has a microfiber surface that’s great at absorbing and wicking, all while staying affixed to your yoga mat by securing it inside the towel’s corner pockets. It’s a simple but highly effective solution to keep your yoga towel from moving around. It feels dry to the touch, too, so you don’t feel soaked at any point. Do note, you’ll have to purchase a towel that’s the exact same size as your yoga mat to ensure the mat is able to fit in the corner pockets, so double check that before picking one up.
Yoga blocks are some of the most useful yoga accessories, as they provide support, stability, and alignment wherever they are needed. If you have tight muscles or limited mobility that make certain poses difficult, for instance, these blocks can help by filling the gap to lessen the muscle stretch required. Same with poses that require balance and stability, as you can use these blocks as stable surfaces to lean on without having to come in contact with the floor. You can also use them to align various body parts, like the spine or the shoulders, preventing bad posture that can lead to problems later on. We’re particularly fond of this yoga block from Manduka, which has smoothed edges on one side, so your body parts can come in contact with a more comfortable surface (it’s especially perfect for the hands and neck). It’s made from dense foam that’s very durable and supportive, while coming with a slip-resistant texture that will keep you stable even while you work up a sweat.
Most yoga blocks will help your balance and stability during many kinds of poses. However, some poses do require a bit more weighted support to really keep you stable. If you find your dense foam yoga block occasionally failing you in those situations, it might be time to try this bamboo option. Weighing 2.2 pounds, this yoga accessory just feels more stable on the ground than any foam block we’ve tried, allowing you to make adjustments mid-pose without the darn thing giving out. On the downside, the bamboo just isn’t as comfortable as foam, so it’s probably still a good idea to keep the foam ones nearby and switch to whichever one you need on the fly.
What the heck is a yoga wheel? Well, it’s a yoga accessory that works much like a yoga block, as it provides extra support during certain poses. Except, it’s in the shape of a wheel, which allows it to move along with your body, making it ideal for poses that will require some amount of movement. It’s especially handy for lengthening the spine during backbends and making the plank even more challenging. This one comes in a set of three wheels of different sizes (6-, 10-, and 12-inch diameters), so you can use whichever feels more comfortable for each pose. Each one is made with a padded foam exterior and a durable TPE plastic core, allowing it to support up to 330 pounds.
PVC has long been the standard material for yoga mats. While newer mats incorporate materials like rubber, jute, and even cork, we’ve found PVC mats to still be the most preferable of the lot, as they offer a good balance of stickiness, texture, and durability with very little downside. This particular model has a 5mm thickness that offers enough cushion to keep things comfortable, while a special coating adds excellent grip and moisture-wicking properties, so any sweat that drops onto the mat ends up getting shed onto the sides. Plus, since it’s PVC, there’s no worries about latex allergies and you get none of that strong rubber smell that accompanies many brand new yoga mats. It comes in two sizes: 68 inches and 78 inches. Average-height individuals should be fine with the shorter option, although taller ones definitely need the 78-incher to ensure the mat can accommodate your whole body during exercises.
If you sweat a lot during yoga, even the grippiest yoga mats won’t be able to maintain the traction required to keep you from sliding and slipping all over the place. Yoga towels offer a reprieve, giving you an absorbent layer on top of the yoga mat, so you don’t end up creating a puddle right on the mat’s foam surface. It’s very absorbent, so you can sweat as much you want without water pooling all over the place, while the silicone nubs on the underside prevent it from slipping even when performing bigger movements. Will it occasionally come out of place? Sure, but it stays still for the most part, allowing you to focus on your exercises, rather than constantly fiddling with your yoga accessories. Yes, it’s more expensive than your standard yoga towel, but it works so well that it’s going to be money well spent.
When it comes to getting comfortable with headstands, there’s no better yoga accessory to use than an inversion bench like this one, which provides support for the shoulders and grips for your hands. Just start out your headstands using this to get yourself comfortable with the advanced pose. Measuring 28 x 19.5 inches (width x depth), it provides a solid foundation to support you in the upside-down position, with PU leather cushioning keeping you comfortable during your time there. Aside from headstands, you can also use it to perform various yoga poses, with the grips coming in handy for support any time you need them. Oh yeah, the entire thing is foldable, so you can tuck it away in a closet when not in use.