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Have any of you ever been kicked out of a yoga class? If so, please, please write to me. Otherwise, I’ll continue to bear this particular shame alone. The year was 2012, and a friend encouraged me to join her for an advanced-intermediate class at a popular studio. I balked, thinking it would be too hard; she said I’d do fine, so I went. When we arrived, I couldn’t even tell which lithe person was the instructor. It turned out to be the man up front who called out the poses — using only Sanskrit. After maybe 15 minutes, the flexible fellow approached my mat, not to offer any modifications, but to say: “You’re clearly struggling. I think you should leave. There’s a beginner class starting next door.” It would be some time before I tried yoga again.
I did later end up developing a strong practice of my own and have used almost all the items in this newsletter. But because yoga is deeply personal, I’ve brought in two additional Bluedot yogis to share their insights and preferences on essentials. Mollie Doyle, our “Room for Change” columnist, teaches yoga up to six days a week and has been practicing since the 1980s; Robin Jones, our Los Angeles editor, has been doing yoga for the last decade.
We all agree that everyone should have a mat and blocks. Mollie and Robin both praise this mat for its unparalleled durability. On the road, Mollie depends on this natural rubber travel mat. Blocks help beginners and pros alike find stability in otherwise unattainable poses. Robin likes sturdy, grounding cork blocks; Mollie prefers lighter foam blocks, saying cork is too heavy for some poses, and “hurts if it falls on your head”; I am devoted to the curved, recycled foam blocks that saved my wrists (and make great under-desk footrests).
When it comes to additional props, opinions diverge somewhat. Robin’s third must-have item is a non-slip yoga towel, which keeps her stable during her vigorous and sweaty practice. It’s also great for travel, as the towel can go on top of a loaner mat and keep you feeling clean. Mollie and I must have a cotton strap. She also likes to have a 100 percent cotton blanket and a comfortable bolster available for herself as well as for her students.
Keep reading to find more items we love, two microplastic filters that are truly easy to incorporate into your laundry routine, and to learn what to do with your old yoga mat. You’ll also hear from our eco-advice columnist, Dear Dot, who offers some wisdom on those pretty crystals you may be tempted to buy at your local yoga studio.
Satchitananda (that means “truth, consciousness, bliss”) and happy shopping,
–Elizabeth Weinstein, Marketplace Editor
Our Editors' Favorite Mat
Robin and Mollie both swear by the grippy, springy, cushiony Manduka Pro 6mm. We don’t normally highlight products made from plastic like this, but our editors believe its incredible durability makes it a worthy choice.
A Great Natural Rubber Mat
Made from sustainably harvested rubber, JadeYoga’s Harmony mat consistently receives rave reviews from owners and press. The company plants a tree for every mat sold. We’re taken by the darling new Grateful Dead collab, shown here.
Manduka Yoga Props
We love Manduka at Bluedot, including many of their props. Our favorite items includ their “game-changing” Yogitoes towels, their yoga blocks, and their eKO Superlite Travel Mats.
An Essential Strap
A yoga strap helps you reach new poses, stills you when your brain and body feel wiggly, and does double-duty as a mat-carrier. It’s a small but worthy investment. Mollie says Hugger Mugger’s straps last longest, and prefers the versatility of a 10-foot.
Cool-Girl Yoga Clothes
Girlfriend Collective is one of the trendiest brands in activewear today. And we’re happy to be trend-followers when we’re talking about sustainable materials, size-inclusivity, and ethical manufacturing.
Our L.A. Editor loves Prana’s yoga tops and sports bras, while our Digital Projects Manager swears by their hiking pants. The brand makes simple yet attractive clothing that doesn’t distract from the task at hand.
Bamboo-Based Workout Wear
Boody, a brand well-loved for its comfortable, soft bamboo viscose basics, now has a small collection of activewear. The highly reviewed garments are made mostly from viscose and organic cotton, with a little spandex for stretch.
A Foolproof Laundry Filter
Unfortunately, most activewear sheds microplastics when you do laundry. The Cora Ball is the simplest laundry filter. Leave it in your machine to reduce microplastic pollution by nearly a third. Save 15% with code BLUEDOT.