We wanted to make sure our top picks would be easy to clean and durable (no mid-session mat shrapnel here!) We found that more porous, open-cell mat surfaces tended to be grippier, but were also harder to clean — they tend to absorb everything, like a giant sponge. Smooth, closed-cell surfaces tend to be easier to clean, but may be more slippery. The sweet spot is a mat that’s just grippy enough but doesn’t hold onto dirt and debris.
The Manduka Eko yoga mat is made from non-Amazonian, all-natural tree rubber reinforced with polyester and cotton and manufactured without toxic glues or foaming agents. No toxic chemicals were used to soften the rubber either, which is rarer than you might expect. These mats have two layers that are different densities, offering a combination of spongy and firm support, and have a closed-cell surface that repels moisture. The natural rubber has good grip in dry conditions and feels nice and supportive under your body.
Why practice yoga alone when you can do it with a friend? Certain yoga poses are perfect for two people to do together, and teaming up with another person can also help you further increase your flexibility. In this video, Health's contributing yoga editor Kristin McGee demonstrates 10 yoga poses you can do with a buddy for a sequence filled with balance and bonding.
Like any sport, yoga requires a specific understanding of technique. It takes focus and attention to set up a yoga pose correctly, work within the pose, and then safely move out of it. Yoga instructors typically use the term “alignment” when referring to form. Correct alignment is when your bones are stacked and stable. This prevents injury because the muscles are working with the bone structure, rather than being pulled too much in one direction or another. When the muscles and bones are in correct alignment, you can typically go deeper into the pose without fear of injury, breathe more deeply, and receive more benefits from the posture. The 15 yoga videos for beginners below will help you achieve proper alignment in each pose so you can start feeling like a yoga pro in no time.
About the channel: Gaiam is a lifestyle brand originally founded in Colorado that focuses on yoga, fitness, wellness, and the environment. As part of their brand, they have a YouTube channel where they offer classes by well-known yoga instructors, like Rodney Yee and Colleen Raidman. Most of the videos are of just teachers, though some of them have students in them, too.
Crank Up Core Strength: an athletic, dynamic routine with some arm balances that will tire you out. I think it’s best suited for someone who is already in good shape but is trying out yoga for the first time. The flow requires two blocks, which can stabilize you in poses when one hand is on the ground or help improve overall alignment. Until I got a great set of cork blocks, I used big, heavy books instead.
One of the stellar things about yoga is that you can do it anytime, anywhere—and that absolutely includes on the beach during vacay. But whether you’re actually in the middle of an exotic getaway or just in your own living room, you’ll flow from pose to pose in this total-body, 20-minute routine led by Karena and Katrina from Tone It Up. Bonus? The rippling water and beautiful sky in the background almost make you feel like you’re there. (via Tone It Up)
About the channel: Tara Stiles has been making YouTube yoga videos since 2007. Stiles is also the founder of Strala Yoga in NYC. Most of her videos are of just her, though she also includes some live classes at Strala (meaning there are students in them). Stiles and Strala have been featured in tons of national magazines and newspapers; she is generally a badass in the yoga world.
Beyond Yoga Essential Long Legging: "These pants are by far my FAVORITE yoga pants. I think I own maybe 7-10 pairs of just the "Essential" legging, and many pairs of other styles/colors. The fabric is to die for. They don't feel like your typical yoga pant, and you'll never want to take them off. They aren't just for working out. Since they don't have a side seam, they are the perfect legging to wear with a sweater/tunic. They also pass the "bend over" test...you can't see through them.