The short answer is 'no'. A towel will do just fine, or, if you are ok with being on the floor, the floor is fine too. At least to start with.
Nobody needs to be buying fancy sporting equipment until they've decided they are really into the activity, right?
I can't think of anything sadder than a yoga mat joining the elliptical glider that's now used as a drying rack, in the junk room. Or worse, the garage.
But if you DO decide you are into yoga, and you want a mat to practice on, or as a barrier between you and the daggy carpet at work, here a are a few suggestions:
My favourite all-time mat is the lululemon Un-Mat. It, and its bigger cousin The Mat, have the best grip of any mats I've ever used. I've been using my un-mat since January 2010, and although it's a bit marked, the surface is still completely intact. As someone who shredded a Jade Mat to unusability within two years, this is a BIG selling point for me. The Un-Mat has the advantage of being very thin and light so you can easily carry it around with you or even leave it at work.
If you want more choice, the good people over at Design*Sponge put together a whole selection of yoga mats. I actually had no idea there was so much choice. See, down there, number 8? It's the Mat again. And number 6 is a yoga towel from Target, which is both easy on the wallet and easy to transport. Not sure if the Australian stores carry it, but it's worth a look. Pop over & see the rest of their picks here.
Also from D*S, once you HAVE the mat, you could indulge in a little DIY and sew yourself a yoga mat bag, or get someone to sew it for you, of course.
Over the years of working with people with conditions of chronic pain and inflammation, I’ve come to understand that sometimes yoga helps.
And sometimes it doesn’t...
Right now, as I work my way back to fitness from being really quite unwell, I am doing about 6000 steps a day. There is no way that I could go from nap-all-the-time to 18000 steps a day. Or even 10000. So I'm doing what works for me right now...
You know how I was talking about lower cross syndrome causing back pain the other day? Well, the same thing can happen in your upper body, when weak muscles cross with tight ones. It's a real pain in the neck!
This year has been one of doctor’s visits, and tests, and surgeries, and medication. I am not ill, I just have what they call a ‘pre-existing condition’.
There are a few things that have been challenging: the main one is that the drugs and surgeries have meant I am often too unwell to move. And I rely on movement rather heavily for my mental health.
I also have a little voice in my head that tells me, every day, that I ‘should’ move. Like it's immoral of me not to be moving...
There's this thing, it's called Lower Cross Syndrome. Basically, tight muscles in the front of your body (especially those pesky psoas muscles) cross with weak muscles in...back. As in, your butt.
And it is a major culprit of back pain.
Stress, as you already know, is inveitable. But people vary widely in how they respond to stress - being GOOD at stress is generally called resilience.
Yoga can help you become more resilient - here's how.
I’m a big fan of the afternoon nap. Heck, I’m even a fan of the morning nap, if I haven’t had a good night’s sleep.
Given a choice I’d have a nap every day. My hubby said the other day that he thinks humans are designed to sleep in the afternoon and maybe we are all so messed up because we DON’T.
Turns out he’s got a point...
A few months ago, one of my students sent me a link to an article about dormant butt syndrome
And we both had a chuckle because I spend LOTS of time talking about how we are all too weak in the behind. And making people do bridges, squats, and lunges to correct that.
But wait, weren't we talking about KNEES? Yes. No buts about it, your dormant butt is the seat of the problem...
As someone who is pretty flexible, I see it as almost a bit of a curse.
can make your joints unstable or “loose” - to the extent that it feels like certain things won’t stay in place (which is where strength comes in).
But then, how strong do we need to be?
If you habitually have your scapulae in any given position, it starts to feel like that is neutral and so you lose the ability to tell where your shoulders really are in space.
Which means, when doing yoga and bearing weight through your hands and arms, you will tend to line your hands up under where you THINK your shoulderblades are. And that is a cause of wrist pain.