Starting a Yoga Challenge? The 10 Must-Haves You’ll Need
I think of yoga as a lifesaver thrown to me at the end of a three year relationship where I fell overboard and forgot how to swim. It was time for a change. It was time for my feet to feel the sand again. Yoga was, and is my guiding light in my journey inward. So back to the mat I went.
I like to confront my challenges head on, so instead of weaning my way back into my yoga practice, I decided on a take-no-prisoners approach with a 45-day yoga challenge. The challenge entails practicing yoga every day for, you guessed it, 45 days. I could have done 21 days or even 30, but I bought a 45-day pass, which in my mind made up for the months I stopped practicing.
One thing to keep in mind when doing a yoga challenge is to not be hard on yourself. There will be days, and for me there were many, that I didn’t make it to the studio. The idea is to go for as many days within your challenge as you can and to not let silly excuses like “the dog ate my yoga mat” keep you from going. For the days I couldn’t make it to class, I still tried to practice at home; standing in mountain pose or doing a sun salutation, it’s yoga and it counts. The most profound benefit I found in my yoga challenge is that it set the groundwork for positive changes and habits in my life.
This challenge was no easy feat and I knew I needed reinforcement, so trust me when I say this: Get a friend to do it with you! It makes the challenge fun and you have someone motivating you along the way. I also told my instructors about my challenge to create a sense of accountability. It worked. When I missed a week because my family was in town, I had some explaining to do.
Now, on with the gear you’ll need for your yoga challenge.
1. Yoga Mat
Choose your yoga mat carefully. You’ll want one that has enough cushion for your joints and that is a non-slip mat. Yoga mats come in standard length and tall, as well as wide. Most, if not all, of your practice will be on your mat, so choose one that you’re comfortable with. This Natural Fitness Eco-Smart Yoga Mat is a standard size with a non-slip surface, which works well for a variety of yoga classes including warm and hot yoga.
2. Yoga Clothes
There’s no reason you can’t be fashionable in a hot and humid yoga class. It’s self expression on a sweaty mat. And I found that funky colored yoga pants and expressive shirts added to the experience, like these Old Navy Active GoDRY Graphic Tank and pink Active Printed Compression Capris.
3. Hot Yoga Towels
You’re bound to break a sweat in a yoga class, even more so if it’s vinyasa flow or hot yoga. This Giam Purple No Slip Towel will keep you dry and stop you from slipping on your mat.
4. Water Bottle
Instead of buying a bottle of water at the studio, save money and be green by bringing your own. This Contigo Grace 24 oz Water Bottle is BPA-free, spill proof and has measurements to easily keep track of how much water you’re drinking throughout the day.
I found headbands to be useful in keeping the sweat away from my eyes and holding down my frizzies (which seem to go rampant in a hot class). These Goody Ouchless Lycra Hairwraps did the trick.
6. Yoga Block
Yoga blocks are a necessity. They help you keep your balance and work into more advanced poses. They are an inexpensive must-have yoga accessory. This Yoga Block Brick Foam is lightweight and washable.
7. Yoga Strap
Yoga straps helped me go deeper into stretches without hurting myself. Look for a long strap that’s sturdy enough to give good resistance like this YogaAccessories 8’ D-Ring Buckle Cotton Yoga Strap.
8. Mala Beads
You’ll need this yoga must-have for off-the-mat practice. This Fragrant Sandalwood 108 Beads Prayer mala beads are used during your meditation. You’ll repeat your mantra moving from bead to bead along your necklace. For more about mala beads, check out this How To Use a Mala video. Remember, it’s just as important to nurture your soul with a yoga challenge.
9. Meditation Pillow
Speaking of nurturing your soul, this YogaAccessories Round Cotton Zafu Meditation Cushion is a comfy place to start your meditation practice. It also works to keep your spine in alignment.
Music is essential for home practice. I found that once I had my yoga mat laid out and music playing I was less likely to quit in the middle of my practice. When choosing music for your practice, go with something that’ll motivate you. I’ve had instructors play pop, dubstep and kirtan in class. If you’re looking to get the full yoga experience, check out Deva Premal. She’s a popular yoga New Age vocalist known for her chanting. Indulge your spirit by exploring more music for your yoga playlist on iTunes.
BONUS: ONE WEEK OF FREE YOGA
Kick off your yoga challenge with one free week of yoga classes. September is National Yoga Month, and in observance of the benefits of yoga, many yoga studios are offering a free week of yoga classes. Visit the Yoga Health Foundation’s website to find a participating yoga studio near you.
Best of luck future yogi!