Starting a home yoga studio is easy, all you need is a yoga mat you can get as cheap as $10, free videos online, and you can get started.
However, if you have been practising at home and are now comfortable in your home-based studio, you will eventually want to equip it with some of the essential tools and equipment that will enhance your practice and take it to the next level.
Some of you may wonder why you would need more than a yoga mat. Yoga equipment can go very far to improve your alignment, help you modify difficult poses to stay injury-free while challenging yourself and keep you comfortable so you can enjoy your practice.
At the beginning of your journey, you may not want to invest in everything on this list as your focus should be on getting the basics of yoga correct. However, as you progress along and are serious about building a long-term, sustainable yoga practice, investing in quality yoga equipment will become more important.
For tips on how to set up your home yoga practice step-by-step, you can download the free guide below
Yoga Equipment to Create a Home Yoga Studio
1. Good Quality Yoga Mat
The right yoga mat can transform your yoga practice completely. When I first started, I used a $12 mat that I bought randomly and found my palms slipping all the time. Inversions and arm balances were almost impossible whenever I sweat. Needless to say, it was dangerous and challenging to practice on such slippery mats for the long term.
When choosing a yoga mat, you will need one that is grippy even when you sweat, have sufficient cushioning to keep you comfortable (the level of cushioning and thickness depends on your personal needs), and if you also practise in a studio, the mat should be light enough to carry out.
Remember these few tips the next time you shop for a mat:
- Choose the right level of firmness. I prefer firm mats that are usually made with rubber as they give more stability to hold advanced poses. However, softer mats often made from PVC are not only lighter but also more cushiony for joint support.
- Test the mat in a physical shop if it is your first time buying it. Test the yoga mat before buying by doing Downward Dog (for checking the grip), and Low Lunge (for checking the cushioning and support for your joints). Once you have selected your mat, you can then buy it online, which usually comes at a better price than shopping physically.
- Make a list of your requirements before buying and stick to it. There are simply too many yoga mats in the market and you can easily be distracted by discounts popping everywhere. Keep a list of your baseline requirements to help you eliminate any noise or distractions. Some examples you can include in this list:
- If you want a mat for travelling as well, you should get one made for travelling or at least is not too heavy for carrying around. The best ones I’ve tried are the Yogo Ultralight Travel Yoga Mat and Manduka Eko Superlite.
- If you sweat a lot, you will want a yoga mat such as the Gaiam Sol Dry-Grip which absorbs sweat and maintains good traction in any condition
- If you want an eco-friendly mat, choose one made of cork, all-natural rubber or sustainable materials.
- Talk to your teachers and yoga community to get recommendations. Ultimately having tried-and-tested reviews from people you trust is the best way to find yoga mats.
I use a Liforme Travel Yoga Mat and intend to stick to this brand until the next great mat is invented. Liforme mats (whether the travel or original versions) are not only grippy, preventing me from slipping on my hands such as in Downward Dog, but also provide alignment guides that are amazing for self-adjustments and learning to feel the ‘right’ positioning of the body in a pose.
2. Yoga Blocks
Whether you are a beginner or advanced yoga practitioner, having yoga blocks on hand will help you greatly in modifying yoga poses, supporting the right alignment and improving balance. Besides, you will be able to practise more advanced poses without risking injuries due to overstretching or doing it with the wrong alignment.
For instance, one-legged pigeon pose is a great hip opener when practised correctly, but few can get into the full expression of the pose in the beginning. Propping up the hip of the front leg can help beginners ease into the pose without hurting the back or hip.
Similarly, strong poses such as chaturanga can be practised with blocks under the shoulders to help you stay up without sinking into your scapula (shoulder blades)
Tips for choosing a yoga block:
- Choose the right material: You typically have three options:
- Foam – These are light, portable but more cushiony. They are great for poses that require you to put your body weight on the block without causing pain or discomfort
- Wooden – Many yoga teachers swear by wooden blocks as they are firm and do not have any give. However wooden blocks are also heavy and less portable.
- Cork – Cork blocks are in between wooden and foam blocks, providing more support but remaining portable.
- Choose the right height: 4-inch blocks are the standard, but you can find blocks that range between 3-5 inches to suit your needs.
I started with foam blocks in my early yoga years, because these are affordable and so light! They can be carried around for my yoga retreats and travel needs.
After finding some of the cheaper blocks disintegrating, I’ve since stuck to Gaiam yoga blocks, which provide decent quality for an affordable price.
I’ve started using cork yoga blocks the past few years. These are more durable and much better for an at-home practice.
If you want a long term investment, the Manduka High-Density Cork Yoga Block is a good choice. It has a resilient solid structure and weighs less than coarse-grain cork commonly used for blocks. Besides the eco-friendly material, the Manduka block can withstand frequent use, has a non-slip surface for sweaty palms, is sturdy and supportive, and has great reviews from all levels of practitioners.
3. Yoga Strap
A yoga strap is not only compact and lightweight, but it is also one of the most versatile tools to help every level of practitioner. They can be used for:
- Improving alignment: For people with tight muscles, a strap can help you to “reach” a pose without compromising on your alignment or overstretching the muscles. A good example is seated forward fold where you can place a strap around your feet to help you reach forward without rounding the back or shoulders.
- Provide stability for arm balances and inversions: Several arm balances (such as Chaturanga) and inversions (such as headstands or forearm stands) require the elbows to stay in line with the shoulders. However, it is not uncommon to find people spreading the elbows out. To prevent the elbows from splaying, you can create a loop with the yoga strap, adjusting it to shoulder-width, and wrap it around the upper arms.
There are plenty of yoga straps with different styles, dimensions and materials to choose from. Yoga straps are uncomplicated tools and I would suggest starting with a simple one that fits your budget rather than splurge on a high end one in the beginning.
To choose a yoga strap, there are several things you should be aware of:
- Choose the right length: Ensure that you have enough strap length to hold onto it comfortably, especially if you will be using the strap in a loop. Most people can use the standard 6 to 8 feet long straps, but taller people will feel more comfortable with a longer one.
- Decide on the type of closure: The two most common types of closures are buckles or loops.
- Buckles allow you to adjust the length of the loop quickly to match your needs. Plastic quick-release buckles tend to be quieter when they hit the floor, preventing any disruption of your practice. Straps with metal D-Rings may be a little noisier but are easier to adjust in between poses.
- Loops are much more convenient to use as they do not require adjustments, ensuring a smooth transition between poses.
- Select a suitable material: Most straps will be made of cotton as the material is easy to clean, is durable and grippy. Those who are new to using straps may find the material a little too rough at first. In this case, you can find straps made of other natural materials or nylon.
4. Yoga Bolster, Cushions and Pillows
A good yoga bolster, cushion or pillow is particularly beneficial for providing comfortable support and is mostly used in Restorative, Yin, or seated practices.
They are used for a few purposes:
- Better blood circulation for the legs: Holding a seated position for a long time, especially during pranayama or meditation classes, may get uncomfortable when the legs start feeling numb. To prevent getting pins and needles in the legs, you can sit on a yoga bolster or pillow. This also helps to elevate the hips and encourages better alignment for a comfortable practice.
- Gentle chest opening: Lying down on a bolster (lengthwise) can help to gently open up the chest, neck and shoulders. You can also use yoga blocks for this purpose, but bolsters tend to be significantly more comfortable.
- Support for better alignment: While yoga straps and blocks are more commonly used for achieving proper pose alignment, bolsters provide a more supportive feeling for restoration or backbends.
For instance, Savasana or Corpse Pose requires complete relaxation of the lower back (by having it grounded on the mat). This “grounding” of the lower back is easily achieved by placing a bolster under both knees.
There are many different varieties and designs to choose from, depending on your needs and preferences.
Types of Yoga Bolsters, Cushions or Pillows
Standard yoga bolsters:
- These can be cylindrical or rectangular, typically measuring 25-29″ in length.
- Cylindrical bolsters are larger in diameter and are better suited for supported backbends. Rectangular bolsters, on the other hand, are more stable due to the flat surfaces and lower heights, allowing the body to rest more comfortably in forward folds.
- If you like a multipurpose meditation cushion for both meditation and yoga, you can try getting a yoga bolster
Zafu meditation cushion:
- Zafus are round Japanese-styled meditation cushions typically filled with kapok or buckwheat. Zafus can be stuffed more or less full (which makes them more or less firm) and can be selected in different heights.
- Zafu meditation cushions are popular because these can come in pretty patterns or embroidery
- The good news is that Zafu meditation cushions are adaptable. If you are unable to hold the cross-legged posture for long, you can change up your position: First, sit on your heels kneeling. Next, place the Zafu meditation cushion on its side between your thighs, and sit on it for support.
- Zabuton is a wide and rectangular cushion typically filled with cotton.
- Most people use Zabutons with zafus to provide an ideal set-up for cushioning the hips all the way to the knees and feet (this is done by placing your Zafu on the Zabuton).
- Zabuton is a great investment if you intend to commit to meditation practice.
Crescent or V-shaped cushion:
- These are best suited for people who need more support from the hip to the entire thighs while sitting down.
- The Crescent cushion slopes downwards towards the legs, supporting the thighs and encourages the pelvis to align in the right direction particularly for those whose hips tend to externally rotate a lot.
5. Organic Essential Oil Candles or Diffuser
When creating a yoga space, helping the mind and body relax through smell is important. Certain essential oils such as Lavender are used commonly for relaxation.
If you are prone to stress or anxiety, try diffusing relaxing scents using an aromatherapy diffuser or scented candles. You can use Bergamot to help you destress, Lavender for sleep, or Eucalyptus for immunity.
Do note that these are some of the essential oils that I use regularly. There are many other types of oils you can explore or event blend together for different purposes.
Essential Oil Diffusers
Once you have selected your essential oil, you can fill up your yoga space with the scent using diffusers. The best way to retain all the health benefits of essential oils is to use ultrasonic diffusers rather than essential oil burners.
Instead of using heat, ultrasonic diffusers use electronic frequencies to vibrate quickly and create an effect like boiling water without the heat. This vibration helps to break down the essential oils into microparticles which are then diffused into the air as mist.
These are easy to clean, do not break, and have many varieties that suit different budgets. Finally, ultrasonic diffusers usually come with light functions and can also double up as a night light.
Fill your yoga space with your favourite scents using one of these three five star essential oil diffusers
Essential Oil Candles
If a diffuser is not your thing, you can try a room mist or scented candles such as those by Wax and Oils. Light up your space with a few tea light candles. You can choose a more environmentally friendly version with LED lights or traditional candles. For a more traditional method, try lighting up an incense. This will put you in a mood for yoga or meditation.
6. Track Progress with a Yoga Journal
Creating a sustainable home yoga practice requires self-discipline and motivation. If you truly want to progress over the long term, it will make sense to track your practice with a journal.
After each practice session, take 5-10 minutes to reflect and write down any thoughts you may have:
- Did you find the practice easy or difficult? Which parts were the toughest to handle?
- Where do you need further work to progress towards your goals?
- How was your focus for the practice? Was it easier or harder than usual to stay mindful on the mat?
- Were there surprises during the practice? Did you achieve any breakthroughs?
- How do you feel after the practice? Do you feel less anxious, calmer, or have a greater sense of mental clarity?
- What would you do differently?
If you would like free yoga journal templates, these have been included in our Home Yoga Setup eBook which you can download for free.
If you prefer journaling freestyle, Paperblanks journals are some of the most beautiful ones you can use. I am currently on my fourth Paperblanks journal already!
Have you started building your home studio? If you are using a piece of great yoga equipment and would like to add to the list, do drop a comment below or send an email via the contact form.
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The YogaMad is founded by Mila, an avid yogini who is passionate about inspiring others to live their best lives while finding mind-body-soul balance. She has a background in business consulting but has left the corporate world in her quest to live out her dreams as a yoga nomad.