Tell me if this resonates with you . . .
Your yoga mat has started its end-of-life journey toward compost and you need a new one but as you search the internet you have no idea which one to buy. There are so many different mats and it's too overwhelming so you just keep using your old mat, the one you like(d), even though there seems to be more of the mat left on the floor when your done than exists in your yoga bag when you leave.
Or your friend kindly taps you on the shoulder after yoga to tell you that she knows the color of your underwear, not because she's an undie-psychic, but because the material and stretch-quality of your yoga pants allows for little to be imagined.
That and it's the holidays, a time when we maybe want to buy some yoga stuff for ourselves or our friends or let Santa know what we might want, provided we find ourselves on the "Nice" list.
Well, in my 16 years of teaching and practicing yoga, I've come to know a great deal about yoga gear and stuff, everything from yoga mats to meditation cushions to yoga clothes, and for what it's worth, I'd love to give you my two-cents of advice about a few things.
Best Yoga Props: Hugger Mugger
Crazy-ass name, great company, wonderful products. One of the things I love about this company is that they are from my fair city of Salt Lake and are perhaps one of the worlds largest retailers of yoga equipment but haven't lost their connection to their costumers.
When outfitting my yoga studios (may they rest in peace) I used Hugger Mugger to get top-of-the-line yoga bolsters, blankets, straps, blocks, and rental mats. The CEO or COO of the company stopped by the studio to check in with our needs and asked me for feedback which he readily took and incorporated into his products. Hugger Mugger makes clothing and mats but whereI feel HM really excels is in their yoga props like bolsters, blocks, etc. They do make a few yoga mats that are middle to high range quality. Their best mat that both my wife and I have used for years is their Para Ruber Mat. It's grippy, made of eco-friendlier rubber, and will last a long time. It's a bit pricey but is their top-shelf mat and worth the cash in my opinion. In the spirit of full-disclosure, if you go to their site, you may see me modeling a bunch of their stuff. I'm not paid to represent Hugger Mugger, I just love this company and stand by (and on) their products.
Best Yoga Mat: Manduka
There is one yoga mat that stands miles above the rest, the Maharaja of all yoga mats, the one that you'll need to buy only once, the mat that gets better (more dialed and grippy) with time, and that's the Manduka Pro. It's a thick, heavy mat that grips well, works well with sweat, and stays put by not bunching or folding under my hands and feet.
I spent over $100 for this mat (bought one for my wife, too), but since I'm serious about yoga and I find myself on my mat, either practicing or teaching, several times a day, the Maduka Pro is no-brainer, just the tool of the trade. I love this mat and didn't think twice about dropping over $200 for two yoga mats.
Manduka company sells other stuff like bags that easily tote their enormous mat, cork blocks, etc., but for my money, I can get that at Hugger Mugger. They make a bunch of other mats but I think that this company is made by their Pro mat.
The one thing that Manduka doesn't sell but SHOULD is a rolling luggage caddy to haul around their heavy-but-worth-it Pro Mat.
I am one of the rare people who bought my second Pro Mat, not because the other one wore out but because my truck was stolen and when I got it back, the three things that didn't come back with it was my trucks catalytic converter and both my and my wife's Manduka Pro Mat. They never caught my truck thief but wherever he is, I hope he's using my extraordinary mat as the platform for his soul-searching and self-improvement.
Some people love the tacky quality of the Jade Mat but I don't love this mat. It sticks, but doesn't hold up if it ever gets left in the sun, it breaks down relatively quickly, and has a lingering petrol smell that I don't love. Check it out for yourself to decide.
Best Yoga Pants (ladies) K-Deer, Albion, Uintah Standard
No body love popping their butt in the air in downdog, or bending over into a forward fold knowing that the elastic in their pants is revealing everything that your pants are trying to cover. I swear, in my job I see more underwear than the sales force at Victoria Secret.
Public Service Announcement: tights do NOT double well as yoga pants, especially if you mind others seeing what's underneath them.
Instead, buy a pair of pants from K-Deer. They make the absolute highest quality of pants I've seen. These pants are chic and unique. I love that they are made in America and not promoting sweat-shop or child labor. In my opinion, K-Deer is two steps ahead in quality of all other brands. I bought a pair for my wife for Valentines Day. She says that she loves their quality but says they keep you a little warm, great if your body temp runs cold.
She loves K-Deer's tops even more than she loves their pants.
Another brand my wife really loves for yoga pants is Uintah Standard. They are Salt Lake local, 300 south, so that's cool.
One more company I really like, in part because they are local to Salt Lake City, is Albion. They have a great online presence, a great selection, and even have a store in City Creek Mall. They also sell a bunch of other stuff, including swimwear.
Best Yoga Clothes for Guys. M Body. I'm always searching for good yoga clothes for men. John Cottrell is an incredible yoga teacher with a wonderful business that sells yoga clothes for men. If you want a excellent yoga clothes for men, check out his site or drop by 21st Yoga to look at them or buy them. I stand behind John's stuff.
Good meditation gear can mean the difference between a great meditation and your feet falling asleep, where all you can concentrate on is whether or not you're feet will need to be amputated after the session.
First, I love the meditation timer from Insight Timer. It's an app that you can download on your iPad or phone available through your app store. It is a has a nice bell and is versatile to allow interval bells during meditation so if I'm doing a long meditation, I know that every 10 minutes or so, I will hear a bell to either mark time or bring my wandering mind back to presence. There are thousands of guided meditations on there, including a few of my own. Also, you can connect with other like-minded people all across the globe with this app.
Personally, I meditate using a Hugger Mugger's V-Shaped Meditation Cushion and their standard zabutan underneath my feet. I can sit like that for hours without my feet falling asleep. Both are relatively affordable and great quality.
If you're going for the gold with meditation gear, check out the meditation supplies at Shambhala. My friend and mindfulness teacher Vicki Overfelt swears by their stuff. I've used Shambhala stuff before and I agree that they are really excellent.
Please share your favorites with all of us by leaving a comment below.