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Best of the Best: Yoga Gear

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Best of the Best: Yoga Gear

One of my favorite parts of being a teacher is watching new students fall in love with yoga. Often they start out practicing casually, but once they discover the transformative power of yoga they can't wait to practice again and again. It's usually around this time they decide to invest in more high end gear. 

I started the same way about 15 years ago. I had an entry level mat, straps and a block from Gaiam. It served me well at the time but as my practice grew I needed something more durable for the long haul. I ended up giving away my block to a friend in need. The mat I kept as a keepsake that still makes me smile to this day. Although I have purchased more straps from another vendor, I still have mine. It's lasted just fine. 

Throughout the years I have bought a pretty nice collection of mats and props. My recommendations below are all out of personal experience. I won't add any product I don't believe in wholeheartedly. These are my favorites with a little review and purchase link. I opened an Affiliate Account on Amazon. If you are a member and want to buy anything I recommend, I would appreciate if you do it through this link. I don't make a lot, but it's a nice way to help me support the content on this site. :)

 

For years I used an loved my Manduka but I have to say, I’ve found a mat that I love even more. The Liforme Yoga Mat has guides that help you with alignment. After using mine for the past few months, my practice has shifted quite a bit. I’ve been able to fix an issue with my shoulders and hip. In full disclosure, I have paired this with a yogic diet cleanse, but I’m 100% sure the yoga mat is helping me with this progress.

PROS: It’s nonstick, eco-friendly and non toxic. They are wonderful to help with alignment and have 0 break-in time.

CONS: They mark up easily so consider them your warrior battle wounds. It’s not going to look perfect soon after practicing, but the alignment aspect makes them indispensable.

 

Manduka Pro Yoga and Pilates Mat- 

PROS
This is the mat I use to practice and teach with at home. It's a wonderful investment and you will never need to replace it. I have had mine for at least 7 years and use it daily. Another upside of this mat is it's very cushy for student's you have sensitive knees. I've noticed that this is probably the most popular mats among teachers and for whatever reason they are usually black but they make some wonderful colors too.

CONS
It's pricey but it will stay in style longer than trendy yoga pants for about the same price.

You need to break it in. There is a bit of film on the mat when it comes. If you have a tendency to slip on the mat you will need to do the break in process with sea salt. If you life in cold climates don't put the mat out in freezing temperatures. They recommend putting a few towels underneath. I used kosher salt and water when I did mine years ago.

 

Manduka eKO Yoga and Pilates Mat

PROS
I bought 2 of these before I decided to get the Manduka PRO. They are about $25 cheaper than the pro and made of non Amazon harvested tree rubber. The coating on them  makes them better if you tend to slide on a mat. While they aren't as thick as the Manduka PRO they still have a bit of cushion.

CONS
Both of mine stained after years of use although still fully functional. They also unraveled a little on the edges. 

 

Jade Harmony Yoga Mat-

PROS
I use this mat anytime I go to public classes. I love this mat for a couple of reasons. It's light enough to bring on the train and walk around the city. I also never ever slip, even in heated classes. I've only had this mat for about a year but it hasn't degraded whatsoever. 

CONS
It's pros are also it's cons! Since it's so light, there is minimal padding for sensitive knees. This isn't a big deal for me, but I could see someone having an issue with it. The nonstick texture is also a bit bumpy. This only bothers me when I do a jump through and my bottom foot grazes the mat.

 

Hugger Mugger 4" Foam Blocks

PROS
Everything! I love these blocks. These are the only ones I prefer for myself and my students. I find them to be the perfect density and weight. I love that they are sturdy enough for handstands yet not too heavy like a cork block to hold between my feet in core work. I also like that they have white lines running through the width of the block. I use them to line up fingers with chatturanga supported holds and pushups. 

CONS
They aren't cheap. In order to do a lot of the drills and homework I like to assign my students you will need 2.

 

Hand Woven Thunderbird Mexican Yoga Blanket-

PROS
These are my favorite blankets and this turquoise one is so pretty!! They have other colors, but I have to say I'm fighting back buying this one as we speak. The reason I love this particular blanket is that it's really pretty. I have an orange and a green one in my studio. Over the years I have bought other blankets when I found a cheaper deal but I wish I had stuck with just this brand. I find they are a perfect weight for blanket slides. They are an acrylic, polyester cotton blend and machine washable. 

CONS
They aren't as dense as a wool blanket. This is more helpful when your getting into the calves. This is used when you roll the blanket like a taquito placing it between your calfs and your thighs while sitting on your shins. You can still do this with this blanket it's just not as effective. The fact that it doesn't use animal products is worth not getting as deep of a calf massage in my opinion. 

 

Yoga Accessories Supportive Rectangular Cotton Bolster

PROS
This is is the only brand I use. I really like the choice of colors and softness of the bolster. I find other brands can be too dense for my taste. These bolsters are also reasonably priced because they can get expensive. I've had mine for years and they hold up. 

CONS
none

 

Namaste Yoga Lavender Eye Pillows

PROS
They are reasonably priced. The lavender scent doesn't seem to fade over time. I've had mine for about 2 years. You can freeze and microwave them. They are made of cotton instead of silk.

CONS
They are only sold in a pack of 4. The pillow cover is sewn together so you can't remove it to machine wash. 

I hope you found this page useful. If you have any questions about the products, leave me a comment. 

Dharma yoga wheel basic

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PROS
This is a wonderful prop to help your flexibility and strength. There are so many different poses you can refine with this prop it will continue to grow with your practice. This prop was designed by my teacher, Dharma Mittra and his son. There are cheaper knockoffs but he was done so much for the world with yoga, I think he deserves the sale.

CONS
It's a little pricy, but still halfof the cost of high end yoga pants. :)

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Resources

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Resources

HAPPY COW APP

If you are at all serious about doing this, stop what you are doing and download this free app now. This app is a lifesaver and a game changer. It's crowd-sourced in nature and will let you know where there are vegan and vegetarian options around your geographical location. I use it all the time when I'm traveling and sometimes I just check it out to see if someone has discovered something I haven't seen yet. If you are shy about downloading an app, you can search their data base on your desktop

 

ORGANIKA KITCHEN

3546 Post Rd, Southport, CT 06890

This is a newer plant based mostly take-out restaurant on the Westport/Southport Border. My husband and kids, love, love, love this place. The owners are super friendly too. I'm very thankful it's here. They are very relatable to most palates. I enjoy the juices and the Mediterranean bowl and the nourish bowl although I always ask for more greens because they area little too heavy for my tastes.

 

CATCH A HEALTHY HABIT

39 Unquowa Rd Fairfield

Hands down my favorite. It's all raw so you might want to start with the smoothies and the desserts if you are new to this or order their salads. The owner Glen has been very helpful to me. At one point this year he leant me 3 cookbooks and showed me which kind of dehydrator to by. They really know what they are doing over there. I would order anything on the menu there. 

 

TRANSITION FOODS

These are meat and cheese substitutes for the most part and the ones I really like. I refer to Wholefoods here and in Fairfield County, CT there is one Wholefoods that tends to always fail with their selection. It's the Westport one. I only depend on produce and bulk items when I walk into that store. The specialty vegan section is frustratingly lacking. It's worth your while to venture out to Wholefoods in Fairfield, Danbury or Darien. Sorry they aren't as convenient for some of my local friends but worth the extra 10 minutes of drive time. 

Gardein products- In Fairfield County, CT I find that frozen section of  Wholefoods and Stop & Shop keep the best selection. Two product winners are the crispy tenders (think chicken mcnuggets) and the turkey cutlets with gravy. I use the crispy tenders with Engine 2 wraps (sold at Wholefoods) with shredded lettuce, tomato, cucumber and honey mustard dressing. It's really yummy and I haven't seen a kid not like it yet.  The turkey cutlets are pretty much larger crispy tenders. I use them instead of chicken and prepare a chicken parmesan. Actually, my husband made it last time and I handed him a can or red sauce a slices of vegan cheese and said put it together. He did a great job! You really just need to follow the directions on the back and then bake it for a little while with the red sauce and cheese. DO NOT use the gravy. I just bought them because I needed the correct size.

Beyond Meat- We like the beefy crumble for a Sunday dinner cheat day. I have used them to make a chili using a tomato base and then pour them over fries that I make in an air fryer with cheese on top. See I can be bad too :) and also as a substitute for ground beef in organic hardshell tacos. My kids and husband love the Beast Burger. I'm personally not a fan but so what. 3 out of 4 like it in our house like them. They also sell a burger that looks like ground up burger in the tofu section at Wholefoods. This one tastes too much like the real thing for me, but who knows this might be the burger that allows you to get your cholesterol in check. So it's all good.  

Field Roast- this company is one of my favorites. I love the the field burger! Although I do feel not so healthy after eating it. It's seitan based but it's kind of worth it some times. This one is also a crowd pleaser. They also make the best cheese for burgers, grilled "cheese" and chili cheese fries. It's called Chao Slices the original tastes similar to American. The other flavors are awesome too. You will find these items in the tofu refrigerated section too along with vegan mayos and lots of other fun stuff. 

 

Veganessentials.com They sell everything including harder to find specialty refrigerated grocery items! 

 

If you are looking for more inspiration check out the documentaries, What the Health and Conspiracy. There are a lot more, but I think these are the most important given our current political situation. Both of my kids loved the What the Health documentary. My youngest daughter (11) who had been a flexitarian for the past few years committed and has stayed a vegan after watching that film. :)

Did you ever wonder why humans love animals but still eat them? I just finished reading Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An introduction to Carnism and absolutely love it!

Check back soon, I will be updating often.  

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