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Yoga Equipment Guide for Beginners

When you first start doing yoga, it's hard to know what you really need to buy. The yoga mat continues to develop so much clothing and equipment that you might feel you need to spend hundreds of dollars before ever stepping foot in a studio.

The good news is, you actually need very little to get started. That said, if you're starting a home practice, or you'd feel better purchasing yoga-specific apparel and equipment prior to your first class, here's what you need to know.

It should go without saying that most aerial yoga accessories want you to wear something to class, but you don't need scores of printed yoga pants or designer gear to be accepted by your peers. Start with the comfortable, breathable athletic apparel you already have on hand, and purchase mid-level basics for anything you're missing. 

Pants or Shorts: You can't go wrong with a few pairs of solid-color yoga pants in black, dark grey, navy, or brown. You can mix-and-match these tights with a wide variety of tops, and if you purchase high-quality options, they can last a long time.

If tight pants aren't your thing, look for jogger-style pants or the popular harem-style pants that have elastic around the ankles. These pants are stretchy and offer a little extra room, but due to the ankle elastic, they'll stay in place throughout your practice.

Shorts are a popular option for guys, and they're also appropriate for women, especially if you plan to try hot yoga. Just keep in mind, you may want to wear form-fitting spandex shorts or looser shorts with connected tights underneath because some poses require you to position your legs in a way that could leave you uncomfortably uncovered with looser, running-style shorts. 

Tops: It's important to wear tops that are fairly form-fitting so your shirt doesn't fly over your head during forward bends. Wicking material is helpful, especially if you tend to sweat a lot or if you plan on attending a hot yoga class.

Because yoga rooms are sometimes kept cool, you may want to bring a light cover up or sweater with you to class. You can wear it until class starts, and if you keep it by your mat, you can put it on before the final savasana.

Sports Bras: If you're a woman, make sure you wear a sports bra. While TPE yoga mat tends to be a low-impact activity, a decent sports bra can help keep your "girls" in place as you transition between poses, making your practice more comfortable.

Hair Ties or Headbands: Whether you're a man or woman, if you have long hair, you need to secure it in place before you start class to prevent stray locks from falling in your eyes and face. A basic hair tie or headband should do the trick.

Yoga Socks: To be clear, yoga socks are not a requirement to attend a class. In fact, it's preferable to do yoga barefoot. That said if you can't fathom the thought of taking your socks and shoes off in front of strangers, invest in a pair of yoga socks with grips on the bottom so you can keep your feet covered while maintaining good traction. Standard socks absolutely won't do, as you'll end up slipping and sliding all over your mat.

These days, you can buy yoga apparel practically anywhere, and it's not unusual to see yoga pants priced at over $100. Don't feel you need to lay out that much cash for a single pair of pants! Target, Amazon, and YogaOutlet offer quality options for well under $50. Buy a couple pairs of pants and a few tops, and you'll be set for months.

As you commit yourself to your practice, you may decide to add trendy prints or styles to your wardrobe.

In gyms and yoga studios, it’s commonplace to use a yoga mat, also called a sticky mat. The mat helps define your personal space, and, more importantly, it creates traction for your hands and feet so you don’t slip, especially as you get a little sweaty. The mat also provides a bit of cushioning on a hard floor.

Most gyms provide mats and studios have them for rent, usually for a dollar or two per class. This is fine for your first few classes, but the disadvantage to these mats is that lots of people use them and you can't be sure how often they're being cleaned, so you may consider buying your own.

Premium yoga mats can be expensive, often around $80 to $120, but it's possible to find a starter mat for as little as $20 from retailers like Target and Amazon. Just keep in mind, if you decide to buy a cheaper mat, you'll probably find yourself replacing it in short order if you use it often. If you're really ready to commit to a yoga practice, your mat is one place it's worth it to lay out some cash.

Decide which mat features are important to you—for instance, length, thickness, material, durability, comfort, traction, or how to keep it clean—then buy a mat with good reviews based on your needs. Manduka and Lululemon are known for the quality of their Pro Mat and The Reversible Mat, respectively, but other brands, including Jade and Yellow Willow, also offer high-quality, durable mats with good traction and support.

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