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What Are the Different Types of Yoga Accessories?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Yoga accessories can make a yoga practice more pleasant, and make modifications simpler for people who have difficulty doing certain postures. Accessories to make modifications to postures include yoga blocks, straps, and exercise balls to help with balance. To make the yoga mat less slippery, and to absorb sweat, a yoga towel or blanket can be laid down on top of it. In addition, a carrying strap or carry bag can be used to keep the yoga mat rolled up and easy to transport. Though a great deal of gear is not required to do yoga, some yoga accessories can certainly make the practice simpler and more comfortable.

The best place to start when purchasing yoga accessories is probably a yoga mat; for many people, it is the only tool they need for a complete yoga practice. Non-slip, eco-friendly yoga mats that are made with non-toxic materials are some of the most popular, and are available in many different colors. An alternative to a yoga mat is a set of "yoga socks" and "yoga gloves"; these slip over the hands and feet and have sticky strips on the bottom, allowing users to do yoga anywhere without needing to unroll a mat.

For people practicing vigorous Ashtanga yoga or hot Bikram yoga, even a non-slip yoga mat might still get slippery throughout the workout. In this case, a thin yoga towel spread or yoga rug out over the top of the mat can help absorb sweat, and keep the surface from being slippery. Other yoga accessories can be used to make modifications to the yoga practice; foam blocks or bolsters, which can simply be a rolled-up blanket, help with certain hip stretches or to keep the legs in place and engaged during other stretches. A yoga strap helps to extend the reach in deeper stretches, where it may not be possible to bend and lengthen far enough.

Other yoga accessories simply make the workout more pleasant. A matching yoga water bottle often comes in yoga kits that include yoga mats and blocks. A carrying bag or simple carrying strap to wrap around the rolled-up yoga mat can make it much easier to transport to and from a yoga class. For people working out at home, some find that adding an exercise ball to the workout can make it more challenging, although this accessory is not traditionally used in any form of yoga or in standard yoga classes.

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Discussion Comments
By Monika — On Mar 06, 2012

I've always been too scared to try Bikram yoga (they heat the room to something ridiculous like a hundred degrees) but I have a few friends who do it. They bring along a few towels to put on top of their yoga mat.

Apparently they sweat so much during Bikram yoga that if they didn't put a towel on top of the mat, they would be slipping and sliding around. However, usually halfway through the session the towel gets really gross, so my one friend likes to change her towel out with a fresh one.

After hearing all those details, I was definitely not convinced into trying Bikram yoga. But if you do, bring many extra towels!

By sunnySkys — On Mar 06, 2012

@strawCake - That's funny. I know a few people like that too. I also know several people that spend ridiculous amounts on designer yoga pants. I've never understood the point of that myself. I just don't see the need to get all prettied up just to go work out.

Anyway, I know all those other accessories might not be necessary, but I think a yoga mat definitely is. I tried to do yoga at home without a proper mat and it was just painful! I slipped around, and it kind of hurt my hands.

So I invested in a yoga mat, but so far no other accessories.

By strawCake — On Mar 05, 2012

I definitely know a few people that go a little to crazy buying exercise accessories. I have one friend in particular that never stick to one exercise routine, but she has the accessories to do all of them.

Awhile back, she decided she wanted to do yoga. So she bought a mat, blocks, a ball, a strap, a matching water bottle and various yoga outfits. Guess how many yoga classes she's been to in the last year? Two!

So the moral of the story is, at least try yoga a few times and make sure you want to stick with it before spending money on accessories!

By honeybees — On Mar 04, 2012

@SarahSon - I understand what you mean about getting used to some of the yoga positions.

Once you keep doing it, you will find it become easier and feel more natural. One of the things that has helped me the most is buying a pair of yoga socks.

Sometimes I think products like this are marketing gimmicks, but these really work for me. They socks come with dots all up and down the length of each sock and on all the toes.

They give me the traction and grip I need to hold my position, even without using a mat. If you have ever tried to do these with regular socks, it is nearly impossible.

I am one of those people who don't like to exercise in bare feet, so these have been the perfect solution for me.

By SarahSon — On Mar 04, 2012

I know those big exercise balls are not considered traditional yoga accessories, but I love them for yoga.

When I first started practicing yoga, I found some of the positions to be very awkward, and realized I didn't have very good balance.

Using an exercise ball not only helped me with my balance, but also helped strengthen and tone my muscles. This made holding my yoga positions easier and more pleasant.

By golf07 — On Mar 03, 2012

I think the biggest key to a good yoga session is a good mat.

Sometimes it can be hard to find one that won't slip around or be too sticky. Then you want one that is thick enough to be comfortable, but not too bulky to carry around with you.

I did learn a good tip from a yoga instructor when it comes to mats. If you ever get one that feels a little slippery, try soaking it over night in water in a bathtub, and add a little bit of soap.

You should see a difference the next time you use your mat. Sometimes they come with a thin coating on them, and by soaking them in water, you can remove the coating without doing any damage to your mat.

By LisaLou — On Mar 02, 2012

I always have a hard time coming up with unique gift ideas for my daughter-in-law. When she started taking a yoga class, I thought a yoga kit would be a great gift for her.

This beginner kit had everything she needed to get started and take to class with her. There was a nice sticky mat, two foam blocks, a long strap, and a handy tote bag to carry all of it in.

It was portable and lightweight and easy to transport anywhere she needed. It also came with a matching water bottle.

My daughter-in-law was thrilled with this gift, and I was happy to find something that worked so well for her.

By jennythelib — On Mar 02, 2012

@ElizaBennett - I have found a strap really helpful during yoga, and I've never been pregnant! I particularly like it for stretches where you are lying on your back and stretching your leg above yourself. The strap helps you keep in control.

Most classes won't include equipment like a block and a strap because not everyone will have them; they are more commonly used in videos. But if you are having trouble keeping up with certain poses in your yoga class, you might want to talk to your instructor to see if you can modify them with props like a block, strap, or even just a blanket.

Another useful accessory is a *second* mat. Some classes will allow you to use two mats, crossed in a lowercase T shape. Then you don't have to keep moving your mat from one angle to another to better follow the instructor! (It also keeps other people from putting their mats down too close to yours.)

By ElizaBennett — On Mar 01, 2012

I found that blocks and straps were particularly helpful when I was pregnant. The foam block was useful for extra support during lunges, triangle pose, and for simply leaning forward, legs wide, to stretch the hamstrings while keeping my back straight. The video I used suggested that at a certain point you stop using the block and start using a chair instead (that is, that you not go as deep), but I did not find that necessary.

And the strap is great for pregnancy, too. After your belly starts to grow, it becomes difficult to impossible to, for instance, sit down with your legs in front of you and bend forward to stretch. The strap allows you to stretch your hamstrings while sitting upright. I learned that trick from a prenatal yoga video and I liked it so much that I also used it during my "regular" (non-prenatal) exercise class as a special pregnancy modification.

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