After making the long-awaited switch to my Manduka, I've gotten some emails about gear. So, I put together a few "guides" with my favorite mats, towels, and other yoga equipment. I try to hit multiple price points, and speak from my own experience, but definitely try things for yourself and know that everyone has different preferences. Also, the prices are ball-park-ish, and you can definitely find a range of prices for the same product, so keep an eye out!
We'll start with the cheapest yoga gear out there... aside from the ground and the air, which, when you think about it, is really all you need.
Mat: Bean Products Yoga Mat $16
Why? Decent padding, decent stickiness, great length. I'm only 5'2, but I still wind up all over the mat, so you tall people will really appreciate this extra long mat. The padding was a little too "kooshy" for me, I like something sturdy for those balancing poses, but for the price, this is pretty good. Oh, and it's non-toxic and phthalate free.
Cons: Too "kooshy," won't last forever.
Towel: Free if you bring your own, or use the washcloths in the studio.
Why? Free and decent.
Cons: They don't stick to the mat, so they wrinkle and clump up as you go through your asanas. If you can deal, or you just don't sweat that much, no biggie.
Blocks: Free if you have big books at home, $4 for two if you use 2 cans of tomatoes from Trader Joes
Why? Free or really cheap/multi-functional and decent. When I'm at home, this is what I use. Or, I do the "Yoga Belly bump up" with Shakespeare on my left and Chaucer on my right : ) (I knew those Riversides would come in handy!)
Cons: Can't grip as well, hard to find books that are exactly the same size/height (especially if you're not an English teacher), cans hurt if you're using martial arts fists!
Strap: Free if you have a bathrobe, scarf, or belt
Why? Free and decent. I use a bathrobe strap at home. I like it better than a belt (though if that's your thing... : )), and my scarves are a little too stretchy.
Cons: Can't tighten it, doesn't feel as secure or solid as the "real thing," it's a little too thin. But, it gets the job done.
Next up: Another gear guide in the mid-price range. Keep your questions and emails coming, I love responding!