Yoga

  • Author:
    Richard Weil, MEd, CDE

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What equipment and props are needed for yoga?

Mats: You don't need much to practice yoga, but in modern yoga studios with hardwood floors, you will need a sticky rubber mat to keep from slipping. In the good old days, there were studios with carpeted floors where you just brought a towel, but mats are now a necessity in most studios. You can find mats online from $20 to $60. You pay more for more sweat resistance, more padding, more stickiness, or different materials. The $20 dollar mats work just fine for most of the participants who use them. You can usually rent a mat from the yoga studio for $1 to $2 if you're just starting out.

Towel: Bring a towel to your first class. You don't know if they will supply you with one and you might want it to wipe away sweat, or even roll it up for support under your neck.

Blanket: Most studios supply these. A blanket is helpful to fold up and sit on if you have difficulty sitting flat on the floor with legs crossed like in a pose called sukhasana. A blanket is also useful to cover you when you lie still during savasana if the room is cool.

Blocks and wedges: Blocks are brick-sized pieces of foam that help with body alignment and getting into some of the poses. Most studios supply these, but if you want to buy your own, expect to pay $10 to $15 per block.

Straps: Straps are made of cotton and useful for stretching and holding poses, particularly for poses with your legs. They come with a D-ring or quick-release buckle to adjust the length. Both work fine, the quick release is just a bit easier to adjust (you probably won't adjust your strap all that much, so either will do). They cost around $10, but again, check with your studio to see if they supply it. Order an 8-10 foot strap if you are taller than 6 feet.

It is probably best to speak with the studio or instructor to find out what they suggest you bring to a first yoga session. Also, keep in mind that borrowed or rented equipment may or may not be sanitary.

How does a yoga class work? What can I expect?

A typical yoga class lasts 75 minutes. There is a 15-20 minute period of breathing, chanting, and warming up (it varies by type of yoga and instructor), followed by the asanas and then 15-20 minutes of relaxation (savasana) at the end.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/26/2015

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