Beginning Yoga -- Essential Equipment
You may be wondering what equipment you need to begin practicing yoga. I have good news -- the equipment investment for doing yoga is minimal. You don't even need shoes since yoga is practiced with bare feet.
There are a few relatively inexpensive pieces of equipment you will want consider purchasing as you begin doing yoga:
Yoga Sticky Mat
The only indispensable piece of yoga equipment every beginner should have is a sticky mat. Yoga sticky mats are important, especially with standing poses, because they provide stability and traction. The "sticky" texture prevents your hands and feet from slipping. Sticky Mats come in a variety of thicknesses (1/8-inch or 1/4-inch), materials, and prices. Thicker yoga mats offer more cushioning, but are slightly less stable when used for more advanced/challenging poses.
Look for a yoga mat that is at least a few inches longer than your height. If you will be transporting your yoga mat to and from class, you will want one that can be rolled and carried easily.
A new yoga mat often has an order and can be slippery initially until it is broken in so I suggest giving it a good wash before using it. Place your mat in the bathtub and soak it well. Scrub it on both sides with just the smallest amount of detergent and a sponge or brush and then rinse it thoroughly. Roll it in a beach towel to remove most of the moisture and then hang it over your shower rod or outside to dry completely.
Yoga Blocks or Bricks
Yoga Blocks are very helpful when beginning yoga, especially if you have a tight back and/or hamstrings. If you have difficulty bending over and touching your toes yoga blocks and bricks serve to 'raise the floor,' making it easier to stretch in a supported way.
Yoga Blankets are another great piece of yoga gear providing cushioning, support, and warmth. You can use yoga blankets to cushion your knees, for support in gentle restorative yoga poses, and for warmth during final relaxation. Many yoga studios many have blankets for you to use but I think it's nice to have at least one of your own. I keep mine rolled with my mat.
If you have tight hamstrings, a yoga strap can be helpful when doing reclining leg stretches and is also beneficial when stretching tight shoulders. A bathrobe tie or neck tie can be used in lieu of an official yoga strap if you want to minimize your investment until you decide whether yoga is the right mind-body exercise for you.
The only other thing you will want is comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely without being too loose.