General Considerations for a Yoga Mat:
For a yoga practice, I recommend a mat so that your feet do not slip in the standing postures. A standard mat is 1/4″ thick, which is fine for most but you may want to consider a 1/2″ thick mat for extra cushioning if you have joint issues.
Pick a mat that you can fit on when you are lying down. The standard mat length is 68″ but longer ones are easily found.
Mats vary wildly in price. If you are just getting started, you can absolutely get away with a less expensive mat but do not be surprised if, within a few months, chunks begin to crumble off it. The second time around, my students will generally then get a higher quality mat that will likely last for years.
I really like Jade Yoga’s Harmony Mat 3/16″ thick. Minimal slippage. Not too bulky to lug to class. Long lasting. Lots of pretty colors from which to choose. A worthwhile investment for your practice. Plus, as a company, they are committed to being eco-friendly and they plant a tree for every mat that is sold. =]
Once you are ready to meditate sitting on the floor…
… you will be most comfortable with the knees level (or lower) than the hips. If this does not happen naturally (yet), you can raise the hips by sitting on a bolster, cushion or rolled up blanket. These are my favorites:
Over the years, I have bought sooo many of these Mexican blankets for the studio. They are durable and get softer with every wash. Fold it to the desired height and then sit on it. You might want to order a second blanket to drape over the shoulders for warmth (especially for me since I am perpetually cold) or even a third to curl up under on the couch. js
If the hips are significantly tight, a folded blanket might not raise up the seat enough. In this case I recommend a rectangular bolster. YogaAccessories offers sturdy bolsters but beware they offer two different sizes! The “regular” ones are TREMENDOUS and are used for a taller person (completely inapplicable to me personally) in a restorative class but not meditation. What they label as the “small” bolster will work much better as a prop (and be easier to store). Or you may prefer the lower-to-the-ground pranayama bolster, which measures 25″ long x 6″ wide x 3″ high.
Note: if you are trying to keep your costs down, in a pinch, you can use the round bolster to sit on during meditation or put the rectangular bolster behind your knees during savasana but, over time, the round bolster will not retain its shape if you regularly sit on it and you may find the rectangular one to not fit comfortably under your knees.
Final note: the bolsters are advertised as machine washable but I have never had the need when I used them at the studio. If you want to go more high end or are a germ phobe, I have had the same Hugger Mugger bolster for almost 20 years. It is super comfortable, has completely retained its shape, the fabric shows almost no wear and, while I am not sure if they still do, my cover has a zipper so it can be removed and washed. I have washed the cover 1 or 2 times without a problem. The covers are available in solids and some crazy snazzy prints (the prints cost more but I would personally find some of them irresistible #yolo).
Hot Yoga Accessories
To keep the pores on the skin clear and ready to sweat out toxin, use a dry body brush daily before the shower. On this model, the handle is detachable and the bristles have just the right balance between soft and firm.
This Zojirushi stainless mug retains heat soooo much better than any other travel mug that I have used. My tea stays piping hot for hours!