When searching for free yoga resources, the video-sharing behemoth YouTube is a good place to start. But type “yoga” into YouTube’s search bar, and you get back more than eight million results. Many of these are one-off videos rather than easy-to-follow programs for beginners. There are, however, two free yoga programs that are worth checking out: Yoga for Dummies and Dr. Melissa West’s channel.
Expert recommendation: Sri Dharma's Mittra's series of classes, like this one, which cover Asana, Yoga Nidra, Pranayama and meditation. "Sri Dharma worked for close to a year exploring and sequencing the Asana classes in particular. They represent his most current thinking on Asana practice as of now." —Adam Frei, Program Manager of Dharma Yoga New York Center
Without question, this was my favorite free online yoga resource. The site offers an easy-to-follow, six-week beginner guide. The guide recommends two classes and one pose tutorial every week, which provides an amazing foundation for your practice. DoYogaWithMe also has a beginner's studio with dozens of curated videos for people who are new to yoga. The videos vary in length, so I never felt bored. I liked that you could check out each video’s average rating and reviews from fellow novice yogis before you dive in.
Best of all, this mat is produced by a company with an eco, and human-friendly vision. Liforme cares about the company’s impact on the planet, and they have tackled the challenge of a sustainable, non-toxic yoga mat by diving into the research and doing their own independent study. The result is a mat made from low-odor, non-toxic, PVC-free material that is heat bonded without the use of any toxic adhesives and biodegrades in normal landfill conditions in 1-5 years! Liforme even send their eco mats to you without the irony of plastic packaging, which is always a plus!
This yoga video helps us see how authoritarianism slips into our world through our communities. It's a longer yoga set, but will help you understand and work with the authoritarian personality traits in you or your community. This video relies on the work of John Elmore, who can be heard discussing Passive Authoritarianism here: https://kpfa.org/episode/against-the-grain-june-4-2018/ *This video comes with free access to our introduction and warm-up videos.
You just need to know where to start, and this article is designed to simplify your choices. I’ve waded through the mass of lesser mats to bring you what I consider the Top 10 Best Yoga Mats of 2018. This list includes mats intended for home, studio, or travel, and for each one I provide a summary -- weight, materials, where it was made -- a description of my personal experience with it, and rate 7 features from 1 to 10, using the following system:
It is not easy to recreate the feel that a rubber mat provides, and the Aurorae Synergy isn’t as supportive or stable as its rubber competitors. The mat can move around under your hands and feet if you put it microfiber-side-down, and you’ll slide if you use it microfiber-side-up in dry conditions. It’s also a challenge keeping it clean, since it absorbs so much sweat, but this might be worth it for hot yogis who are tired of slipping during sweaty practices.
Established in 2008 by Kelly Kolterman, the SoCal inspired apparel brand commits to following ethical and responsible business practices and manufacturing. Additionally, Jala Clothing partners with Yoga Gives Back, a non-profit organization helping mothers in India start their own businesses and send their children to school. Their sizes range from women’s XS to L.
A good yoga mat should walk the line between being squishy enough to take some of the pressure off your joints, while being dense enough to offer a stable foundation. Too-soft mats may be comfortable, but they’re difficult to hold a pose on — and while you can stand on a too-firm mat forever, you may end up hurting your joints. Beginners, pregnant yogis, and people with sensitive joints should consider thicker mats, which offer more support. Yogis who commute or travel a lot may prefer thinner mats that are easier to roll up and carry.
Experts say: "Jessamyn Stanley is a rising Instagram star and has gained much popularity for using yoga as a way to promote a positive body image and a positive self-esteem in ourselves. Yoga transformed Jessamyn's life by helping her overcome depression and years of body negativity. She uses Instagram and YouTube to defy the negative statements that many people have about people who are overweight, and you can often find her posing in advanced yoga postures. Viewers love Jessamyn's videos because they're very empowering — and she's creating a new and aspirational image of a 'healthy and athletic body.'" — Serena Tom, Yoga Teacher, Equinox
Yoga for Dummies is a six-part series of 10-minute videos. Put them together, and you’ve got a great starter yoga class that eases you into your practice. West’s channel has dozens of videos to choose from. I’d recommend starting with her beginner playlist, especially Namaste Episode 101. The 11 videos on the playlist are some of the best explanations of poses that I’ve come across. And West’s personable nature will keep you coming back.
Challenging your muscle memory keeps your mind sharp! In this sequence, Health's contributing yoga editor Kristin McGee puts a new twist on the standard yoga flow, shaking up classic sequences so they feel brand-new. McGee says this routine is perfect for yogis of all skill levels. As a bonus, studies show that making your brain’s processing center work harder may help with long-term memory retention.
Yoga mat towels can be useful for people who find themselves slipping on their mats, typically in Bikram or “hot yoga” classes. If you invest in a quality, non-stick yoga mat, you shouldn’t find yourself slipping — even in the sweatiest conditions. That said, towels can also be a nice addition for wiping sweat off your face and body during class, too.
A yoga mat's material affects its stickiness, durability, comfort, texture, and whether or not it’s environmentally friendly. PVC is cheaper and more durable but may be exposed to toxins during manufacturing and be less beneficial for the environment. Eco-friendly materials tend to be more expensive and degrade more quickly but are both free of toxins and more sustainable.
While the holidays are amazing, they inevitably come with their own unique set of stressors, from family drama to gift shopping. Taking time for yourself is especially important during stressful times, and yoga can help. In this video, Equinox trainer Noemi Henriquez demonstrates an 11-minute flow that was specifically designed to challenge your body and help you unwind during the busy holiday season.
The standard thickness of a regular yoga mat is 4–5 millimeters. Travel mats are generally 3 millimeters or less, and thick mats are 6–9 millimeters. The type of yoga you practice can help you figure out which thickness is right for you. Instructor Jane Witzenburg advises, “If you are doing a lot of lunges, use a thicker mat. If you are doing more balancing postures, use a thinner mat.”
If you liked Erin Motz’s routine (listed above) but are craving some runner-focused R&R, this longer sequence has your name all over it. As instructor Goldie Kaufenberg mentions in her intro, this plan targets the pelvis and the body below it through gentle twisting and core work. After going through the 48-minute sequence, you’ll feel longer and more limber—the perfect complement to any endurance workout. We’re also big fans of the fact that she gives you options for the poses, walking you through the modifications you might need. (via Lululemon)
It’s best to clean your yoga mat at least once a week to prevent staining and buildup. Use water and gentle cleansers like lemon juice or dish soap, but avoid abrasive sponges. Wipe down excess moisture and let your mat dry away from direct sunlight or high temperatures, which can accelerate the breakdown of natural materials like rubber. When in doubt, check your mat manufacturer’s care guidelines.
Feeling overwhelmed? Yoga can help you take a step back from your busy schedule and find balance. A stressed-out mind often means a tense body (think: a clenched jaw, a stiff neck), so a calming yoga flow can give you a sense of relief both inside and out. Clinical therapist and yoga instructor Lauren Taus leads the way in this short but restorative flow, which is designed to give you an opportunity slow down and de-stress.
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.
Brands to Look Out For: We take our yoga clothing seriously and don't carry brands that we wouldn't stand behind. All our yoga apparel brands are high quality and constructed with care. We love carrying brands that are made in the USA, use sustainable and eco-conscious practices, support emerging designers, and stay on top of the latest trends. One yoga apparel brand that all yogis will love is Teeki, an LA based brand that creates awesome yoga leggings made out of recycled water bottles. Wear It To Heart is another very popular brand that sells high quality yoga clothes that are crafted with fashion and function in mind. We love the Beyond Yoga Essential Leggings which are one of the most popular basic black leggings that we sell. LVR Fashion uses GOTS certified Organic cotton and bamboo made in the USA for their yoga clothing, making them an excellent choice for the earth concious yogi.