Yoga, often brushed off as easy by people who enjoy more intense forms of exercise, actually holds the power to change your whole life: A consistent yoga practice can significantly reduce aches and pains, improve balance and flexibility, improve your fitness, keep your brain sharp, relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, reduce stress, help you sleep better and, unsurprisingly, considering those benefits, improve your overall quality of life.
If you've been thinking about starting a yoga practice but feel too intimidated, don't be: Yoga is for everyone. Big or small, young or old, flexible or not, you can do-- and you can do it in the comfort of your own home.
Having yoga tools and props can help you get started, but know that you don't necessarily need any of these items to cultivate a yoga practice at home. For that, all you truly need is yourself -- think of the items on this list as tools that can strengthen your yoga practice and make it something you look forward to each and every day.
Quiet, uncluttered space
This is the one thing you actually do need. Whereas the rest of the list serves as a guide to tools that can make yoga more fun or relaxing, a quiet, uncluttered space is necessary for a distraction-free yoga flow.
Your space can be indoors or out, cold or warm, decorated or bare, but one thing remains essential: Your space should help you relax. You should feel at home wherever you decide to do yoga. Set it up in a way that fosters focus and comfort for the entirety of your yoga flow.
While you can do yoga on any surface, a good yoga mat may make all the difference. This is especially true for people who struggle with achy bones or joint pain: A dense yoga mat can support and cushion your body while still offering support and stability. To learn how to choose the right yoga mat for you and browse some of the best, head over to CNET's guide on
Yoga blocks are a must for anyone who struggles with limited flexibility or range of motion. Place these foam blocks beneath your hands, chest, hips or back -- wherever it makes sense for the pose -- to help get into position.
You can find yoga blocks all over the internet. Most companies that sell yoga mats also sell yoga blocks: Gaiam, Manduka, B Yoga, Yoga Hustle and many other yoga brands sell branded blocks. Other online retailers stock them, too: Find some at Amazon, Yoga Direct, Walmart, Target and YogaOutlet.
Gaiam's yoga blocks are simple and durable yet aesthetic. They're also affordable, making them a great choice for the everyday yogi.
Another great yoga prop for improving flexibility is yoga straps. A yoga strap, like this one from Manduka, hooks around your feet or ankles to assist in poses that require a wide range of motion, particularly in poses that open up the hamstrings, hips and upper back.
A yoga strap can help beginners avoid the common mistake of trying to force themselves into a pose their bodies aren't ready for, thereby assisting in injury prevention and establishing good yoga technique. Even people who have long had a yoga practice can find benefit in a strap, especially when trying to branch out into more advanced poses.
Tend to slip all over your mat during yoga sessions? You may benefit from a yoga towel, which wicks sweat as you practice, preventing your hands and feet from slipping around. An extremely grippy mat usually cuts it for most people, but for some, no amount of nonslip mat material will do the trick.
A yoga towel is a thin, moisture-wicking piece of material that's about the same size as most yoga mats. You simply place it on top of your mat before you practice and you're good to go. Some yoga towels are thick enough to replace a mat, but most are not.
No more shivering in savasana: A cozy blanket is the cherry on top of your at-home yoga practice. Keep one nearby your dedicated yoga space so you can slip under it when it's time to end your practice in savasana, or corpse pose, the act of slowly relaxing your body one joint at a time.
You can also use your at-home yoga space for deep breathing practice or meditation, both of which are great complements to yoga. Any blanket will do as long as you find it comfortable, but many yoga brands have their own blankets for sale, such as Kakoas, Lotus Crafts and Open Road Goods.
A bolster pillow can support your body during restorative yoga, particularly during flows that include a lot of supine (upward-facing) floor poses. A yoga bolster is basically a support pillow but firmer and usually closer to the size of a full-body pillow. Like yoga straps, a yoga pillow can help you sink deeper into postures without compromising form. It can also be your pillow for an afternoon nap -- hey, it's your home yoga studio, so anything goes. Yoga Direct, YogaOutlet and YogaAccessories all have a big selection of yoga bolsters.
You wouldn't go out for a run or hit the weights in workout clothes you hate, so don't try to practice yoga in clothes you hate, either. Good yoga clothes are stretchy, cool, moisture-wicking, comfortable and somewhat form-fitting -- you don't want your shirt slipping over your head in a forward bend.
There's no need to buy yoga pants that cost upward of $100. In fact, you can find inexpensive but high-quality workout or yoga clothes from many stores online. What you have in your closet already will probably work, too. Start there and treat yourself to some new yoga clothes when you're sure you'll stick to a practice.
An at-home yoga app
Starting yoga at home can feel intimidating and overwhelming. If you're not quite sure where to start, consider using an at-home yoga app or at least following along with some yoga videos on YouTube. You can find many yoga apps out there for free, but a premium subscription might be worth the money if you're really ready to commit to an at-home yoga practice.
Here are some yoga apps I love:
More fitness essentials
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.