Yoga is supposed to take away from the need of material things, but when it comes to your practice, there are a few essentials that even the most bendy and accomplished practitioners can't down-dog without.
1). A solid yoga mat: You can get a yoga mat anywhere these days from Target to Walgreens to JCrew. But all mats are not created equal. If you're an avid practitioner, invest in a good quality yoga mat. My favorite one is Mercedes of all yoga mats, or the premium black mat. Barefoot yoga sells it for about $80. (They also have more affordable, environmentally friendly mats.) It's a bit pricey for a yoga mat but I guarantee, this one will last you for a lifetime!
2) Towel: Chances are that you sweat a decent amount during your yoga practice, especially if you do Ashtanga, Bikram or any kind of a power or vinyassa style yoga class. Sweaty and slippery hands and limbs can be detrimental to your practice. To prevent any accidents, make sure you take a towel with you to class. Any towel will work and the size will depend upon how sweaty you get. Opt for a hand towel if you're a light sweater and a bath towel if you're drenched after your third sun salutation.
3) Proper attire: Lines of yoga clothing seem to be cropping up as quickly as yoga classes. And there is a reason for this recent onslaught of yoga wear: Yoga is in! Your regular jogging shorts, sports bra and t-shirt just won't cut it in yoga class.Yoga clothing needs to be form-fitting enough so that you can see the alignment in your muscles, but loose enough that you're comfortable and can move, twist and bend in comfort. Yoga shorts, yoga pants and yoga tank tops for both men and women should be fairly easy to find at any decently large retail store or online. Choose comfort over fashion when selecting clothes. If you love the way it looks, but fear that when you bend over something might fall out, skip it and choose something else.
4.) Yoga Props: From bolsters to blocks, there are tons of yoga props that can greatly assist your practice. Unless you practice a style of yoga that props are a necessary part of the routine like Iyengar or prenatal yoga, then you can save your money on these helpful gadgets until you're sure you need them. Also, your yoga studio may already have them. Make sure that when you do use props, you also have the attention of a trained teacher who can help you use them effectively and safely so that they support your practice rather than doing the practice for you.
5.) Practice Rugs: If you practice a super sweaty kind of yoga, then you'll need a rug. Often called a Mysore rug, these tightly woven rugs prevent slippage even when you're dripping in sweat. But if you don't sweat, using these rugs will be a detriment as they require the moisture in sweat to make them work. The rugs offer better traction and support in standing and seated postures.
It's easy to combine your love of shopping, material goods and yoga into one expensive habit, but if you keep your yoga accessories as simple as your practice, then you can still maintain a sense of detachment and be well equipped to practice your favorite style of yoga.