Are you ready to kick some asana? It is time to once again greet the rising or setting sun – and prepare ourselves for whatever hours and tasks remain ahead of us. Take a deep breath and relax. It’s vital to our practices that we are prepared for sessions in not only mind and body but with the tools that aid us in enhancing our overall yoga practice. Here are the items to always keep close in your yoga bag. It all starts with a yoga bag… Opt for a duffle bag that houses multiple compartments for a range of accessories and personal items (many of those listed in this article!). However, if too many pockets don’t suit your fancy, the minimalist in you will rejoice in the simplicity of a smaller tote bag that will still fit all of your necessary accessories. Sometimes, the power of a trustworthy bag goes neglected. Like a yoga mat, be sure to find one that not only is worth its price tag, is wonderful to your personal liking but will continue to be your companion on yoga journeys and destinations. Yoga mats Yoga mats are not just tools to prevent us from slipping out of poses. They act as a manifestation of tranquil space, where we can put away the thoughts of chaotic work days, and anxieties of our personal lives. They also ground us because, in yoga, we are firmly placed on the earth to disallow our thoughts and emotions from drifting elsewhere. In the moment of time of doing yoga, a simple rectangle suddenly becomes a safe haven where one can truly focus on themselves. Additionally, the type of yoga mat can influence practices based on its technological features or use of color. Want to channel calm, or revitalizing energy today? Investing in a yoga mat can provide you with a high-quality tool for years to come and continuously bring you to a happy place. Blocks and straps Blocks are commonly used for assistance in alignment, balance, and support when flexibility and strength are still developing, or if you are currently nursing an injury. Specific standing and balancing poses require a certain distribution of weight on your limbs and joints, which can be further supported by the implementation of a block. Lying poses, in particular, can especially benefit from the use of blocks to prevent excess neck and spine strain. Besides being at peace when breathing through each pose, remaining comfortable is just as important! Straps, in conjunction with blocks, also aid in flexibility and safely assist stretching to inhibit the risk of pulling a muscle. Furthermore, straps can also be a tool to challenge tension and difficulty of poses to take your practice to another level. Towel Whether you’re freshening up or need to prevent slippage on your mat, a towel is a great friend. But be sure to use a yoga towel, which is solely meant for the purposes of yoga. They are designed to dry quickly and efficiently provide support underneath the soles of your feet. Regular towels or blankets do not provide this benefit. A reusable water bottle Hydration should never go neglected before or after yoga! A habit to consistently practice is to rejuvenate yourself with water hours before class and immediately afterward. You do not want to hydrate seconds before class begins because the fullness in your stomach will cause great discomfort. A few sips in between your poses are just fine, however. But like we all know, we can get so caught up in the series of movements and poses, we may not even have a chance to think about reaching for our water bottle! Protein bar/snack Got a case of the munchies? No worries! However, it is recommended not to eat an hour before or during yoga class. Our internal body temperature changes with the continuous maneuvering of our bodies. Save your protein bar or snack for later. You want to feel energized and invigorated through sessions, not sick and tired. On that note, make sure to avoid acidic and heavy foods before and after yoga. Instead, you’re going to want to eat something immediately after so that you won’t feel fatigued. Having a quick snack when you are finished will ensure your energy will last you until your next full meal! Essential oils/refreshing mat spray Finding your center and setting the mood for yoga should be a wonderful process. Whether in the comfort of your home or attending a class, essential oils and mat spray will enhance the yoga experience. However, before spraying the mat and rubbing oils on your wrists, be courteous and considerate to those around you if in a group setting. Make sure that everyone is comfortable with the use of oils and sprays and the yoga instructor permits it. Essential oils and mat sprays come in a multitude of scents, but the most popular smells include peppermint, lavender, or citrus – each with a designated purpose to reenergize, invigorate or to calm the senses. Mat cleaner You don’t need permission from those around you to clean your mat! Sometimes, it’s best to rub off the excess dirt and sweat from your mat with a cleaning spray immediately after a session. Hunt for soothing or neutralizing mat cleaners so that the smell isn’t too prominent. Hair tie/headband Long hair and bangs are lovely – but not when they get in your face and mouth. Hair ties and headbands to the rescue! We want full concentration on ourselves during yoga, with absolutely no distractions. Pull back your gorgeous locks with comfortable hair accessories to ensure no fly-aways! Interestingly enough, you don’t want to use cheaply made hair ties or headbands that deteriorate after a few uses. Pick up comfortable and soft hair accessories that never pull at your roots. Who says you can’t be athletic and cute/stylish at the same time? Dry shampoo Sometimes, hair can get pretty greasy and oily after yoga, especially Bikram Yoga! Whew. Using a vegan dry shampoo restores hair to clean bounciness and pulls out excess grease. A person might be on-the-go right after yoga, so dry shampoo and freshness is a must! And there you have it – the essentials of what to keep in the perfect yoga bag! Until next time. Namaste!