Essential ingredients for making the perfect healthy morning smoothie

The essential ingredients for making the perfect healthy morning smoothie

If you’re thinking about starting the morning on a healthier note, then you’re probably wondering how to make the perfect healthy smoothie. Smoothies are a great way to ramp up your intake of fruit and veggies, and are great for picky eaters who may struggle to eat all of their five-a-day otherwise. 

The great thing about smoothies is that you have the freedom to put pretty much whatever you want in them, meaning that every breakfast can be refreshingly different. But with that being said, there are some guidelines that you can follow in order to create the perfect healthy morning smoothie:

 

Liquid base

Although fruits and vegetables are naturally quite watery, your smoothie still needs a liquid base to prevent it from being too thick or gloopy. The more liquid you put in, the more watery your smoothie will become, so you can tailor your recipe to personal preference.

The amount of liquids you use will also depend on what type of fruits and veggies you use, since fruits like blueberries are going to give out more water than a chopped banana would do.

It’s up to you what type of liquid you decide to use in your smoothie. Some people just use water, while others opt for a creamier taste with either dairy or dairy-free milk. Almond milk makes a great healthy liquid base for your smoothies. 

 

Fruit 

The type of fruit you decide to include all comes down to personal preference, though some fruits tend to blend better than others. Bananas, mango, melon, grapes, and berries are all perfect options for your morning smoothie, and you could even get creative and make some amazing flavour combinations. 

If you like your smoothies ice cold, then why not use frozen fruit? As a bonus, it’s normally already chopped into size, saving you the preparation time.

 

Vegetables

While some people might grimace at the idea of vegetables being in a smoothie, if you do it right, you’re not even going to taste them. Vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals while having the bonus of not being as sugary as fruits. 

Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are great for adding to smoothies, since they don’t have an overpowering flavour and cannot be tasted once they’re blended with everything else. Other options include sweet potato, courgette, and cucumber. 

 

Protein/ Flavouring

Lots of people like to add protein to their smoothies, particularly if they’re planning on exercising on that day. You can get protein from nuts or seeds, or add in a protein powder of your choice. Protein powders also help to flavour your smoothie.

If you’re looking for a delicious, low calorie flavouring option, then why not consider Shake That Weight? They offer low calorie shake powders in a range of tempting flavours, from chocolate orange, to caramel, making them the perfect addition to your healthy morning smoothie. If you’re looking to lose weight, then these shake powders can also be great by themselves as a meal replacement. 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Ways to reduce the stress of working from home

3 ways to reduce the stress of working from home

Before the pandemic came along I think most people used to think of working from home as ‘the dream’.  Everyone had these images in their heads of working from their sofa, staying in their PJs all day and generally feeling pretty relaxed while getting things done.

After the past year though, with so many people suddenly having to make working from home their reality, a lot of people have realised it really doesn’t match up to that dream.

There are loads of benefits to working from home, and it can be the perfect solution for getting a better work/life balance, especially if you used to have a long commute to an office every day.  But it can also bring a lot of stress for a lot of people.

If it’s looking like you’ll still be working from home for a while, and you’re finding it quite stressful at times, then these 3 tips should help make life a bit easier.

 

Set clear boundaries

One of the biggest issues people face with working from home is finding that your work life and your home life sort of blur into one another.  It can be hard to make a clean break from your working day when your office is the kitchen table.

So do whatever you can to start creating boundaries between your working day and the rest of your time at home.

Set clear times for when you’ll start and finish work each day, and then stick to them (no more ‘quickly’ checking your work emails from your phone in the evenings!).

If you miss the way that your commute gave your some down time to move from work mode to home mode, then try popping out for a walk round the block when  you sign out for the day.  Or create a new habit like popping the kettle on and having a particular type of tea at 5pm to mark the end of your working day.

 

Get everything in good working order

If you’re going to be working from home for a while yet, then it’s about time to deal with any little niggly issues you have with your home working set up.

Most of us rely on the internet to be able to get our work done, and a slow or unreliable connection can make things really stressful.

If you don’t think you’re getting the internet speeds you should be from your provider, then try using a company like SpeedCheck to see what speeds you’re actually getting.  If you’re not getting what you’re paying for then have a chat with your provider and ask them to sort it out for you.

You can also look into getting a signal booster to make sure your wifi reaches all the different corners of your home, so you can still check your emails on days you want to work from the bedroom.

Now is also a great time to look into getting a decent desk chair and making sure your desk is set up properly to look after your back.

 

Manage your time

Chances are you’re being left a bit more to your own devices while working from home, without your manager wandering round the office and checking in quite so much throughout the day.

So take a bit of time to properly plan out your day and make sure you’re managing your time as best you can.

This could include things like using the pomodoro technique to work in timed blocks and then making a point of taking a quick break to stretch your legs, get a drink, or have a chat with a friend.

It’s also really important to make sure you take a proper lunch break each day.  Move away from your workspace to eat and, if you can, get a little bit of exercise.  Just a 10 minute walk after you’ve eaten can make a big impact on how good you feel.

 

It might not always be easy, but planning out your day, setting clear boundaries around your working hours, taking regular breaks, and sorting out your kit can really help ease some of the stress of working from home.

Do you have any other top tips to make working from home easier?

 

quick ways to feel happier today

12 quick ways to feel happier today

If you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up, something to help you feel a little bit happier, then this post is for you.

I’ve put together a list of 12 things you can do, that don’t take much time or effort, to feel happier, and you can get going on most of them straight away.

 

1. Start your day with a hug

Make a habit of having a hug with your partner, your child, or your cat first thing in the morning and you’ll get a lovely little happiness hit to get your day off to a joyful start.

Hugging people we love (and stroking our pets) causes a release of that wonderful happiness hormone serotonin, as well as dopamine and oxytocin.

It doesn’t take long either, research has shown that hugging for just 6 seconds is long enough for significant amounts of serotonin and oxytocin to be released.

 

2. Move your body

We all know that exercise is good for us.  It keeps us both physically and mentally well, and really can make us feel happier thanks to the endorphins that are released when we work out.

It can still be hard to get motivated to do it though, even when we know all the amazing benefits of exercising.

The key is finding ways to move our bodies that feel fun to us.  Whether that’s dancing around the kitchen to 90s tunes, or chasing after the kids in a game of stuck in the mud in the park.

Find things you enjoy that get your heart pumping and enjoy the happiness benefits that come with it.

 

3. Practice gratitude

Every day take 5 minutes to write down 3 things you’re thankful for.

You can do this in the morning as you drink your coffee, or last thing at night before you turn off the light and go to sleep.

A study carried out at the University of California in 2003 found that people who regularly wrote gratitude journals reported feeling more positive about their lives in general, more optimistic about the week ahead, and happier all round.

 

4. Do something kind for someone else

A really lovely way to get a happiness boost is to do something nice for someone else.

Look for ways you can include random acts of kindness into your day, from smiling at people you pass on your walk to buying a bunch of flowers for your partner.

 

5. Laugh

It might sound strange to laugh to make yourself feel happier (rather than laughing because you’re already happy), but studies have found that smiling and laughing, even when they’re fake and forced to start with, can give us a happiness boost.

So try spending a few minutes doing the silliest, most over-the-top fake laugh you can muster and see how it makes you feel.  Or try a laughter-yoga session on your lunch break to give you a boost for the afternoon.

My favourite way to bring on the giggles though is to watch something funny, like bloopers from my favourite TV programmes.  The old Friends bloopers still make me crack up every time I see them, especially the one where Ross plays the bagpipes.

 

6. Try something new

Mixing up your routine is an easy and fun way to add more happiness to your day.

Try a new cereal for breakfast, walk a different route home from the school run, start learning a new skill, or give yoga a try instead of going for a run.  When we do the same things day in day out we can really start to feel stuck in a rut, which isn’t the most cheerful place to be.

Giving something new a try and doing things differently can help build new neural pathways, bust us out of that rut and give us a great boost of happiness.

 

7. Embrace your inner child

Think back to the things you used to love doing when you were younger, and make time to start doing them again now.

It might be drawing or making things with your hands, skipping in the garden, or slowing down, lying on the ground and looking for shapes in the clouds.

Whatever it means to you, find time to just play once in a while, you’ll feel much happier for it!

 

8. Spend some time in nature

There are so many benefits to spending time outside, and a boost in happiness is one of them.

So try and spend a bit of time outside every day.  Go for a walk in the park on your lunch break, or take your child out to the woods and see what natural treasures you can find.  Even if you just spend a few minutes barefoot in the grass in your garden you’ll get the benefits of ‘earthing‘.

 

9. Listen to music

A really quick way to inject some joy into your day is to play some music that makes you feel good.

Pick a song that would get you up on the dancefloor at a wedding, or one that brings back memories of amazing nights out with your friends, and play it nice and loud.

 

10. Buy yourself some flowers

Studies have shown that having flowers in our homes can help us feel happier, less stressed, and more productive.

So treat yourself to a bunch of your favourite flowers and put them somewhere in your home where you’ll see them regularly throughout the day.

 

11. Savour something you love

When you need to take a break, make it a real break.

Stop what you’re doing and give your total focus to something you love.  Whether it’s a particularly good cup of coffee, your favourite chocolate bar, or an episode of your favourite TV programme.  Whatever it is you enjoy, give it your full attention and really savour it.

 

12. Wear something that makes you feel good

Whether it’s a particular outfit that always makes you feel confident, a special piece of jewellery, or even a perfume or body lotion that makes you feel good, put it on now for a boost of happiness.

Stop saving these things for a special occasion.  If they make you feel good then wear them as often as you can!

 

Ways to boost your mood

9 little ways to boost your mood

I have to be honest, I don’t like the word ‘coronacoaster’ and I’m loath to use it in this post, but I have to admit it does a pretty good job of describing how life has been for the past year.

There have been so many ups and downs, so many moments of hope and community spirit and unexpected joy, followed by moments of frustration and despair and grief in all its forms.

If you’re in one of the dips at the moment, there are some small things you can try that don’t take too much effort or energy but can really help to give your mood a little bit of a boost until things start to even out again.

 

Have a little dance party

Put on your favourite music, turn it up loud and have a dance around.

A study carried out by university researchers at York and Sheffield found that dancing to music for just 5 minutes is enough to give us a happiness boost, as well as improve our creative-thinking patterns.

And if you choose upbeat songs from the past that bring up a sense of nostalgia, so much the better.  Songs that take us back to fun, joyful moments in our lives have been found to give us a dopamine boost and make us feel happier.

 

Have a cwtch

An incredibly quick way to get a happiness hit is to have a hug with someone; so grab your partner, your child, or your dog and have a cuddle.

Studies have shown that hugs, cuddles, and cwtches help our bodies produce both oxytocin and endorphins, which make us feel happier.

The more hugs you can get in a day the better, because they can also help boost your immune system, make you feel less afraid, lower your blood pressure, and help you communicate better.

 

Watch something silly

Get on YouTube and find some videos to watch that you know will make you laugh.

It might be a compilation of babies laughing, or the internet classic of animals doing silly things (my children have discovered these recently and think they’re hilarious!).

For me it will always be TV and movie bloopers.  They crack me up every time.  It’s something to do with seeing the actors break character and the laughter that follows is always so infectious.

If you’ve not seen the clip of Jennifer Aniston in hysterical laughter in the bagpipe scene in Friends, you need to go and watch it right now!

 

Go for a walk in nature

I know going for another walk might not feel like the most fun thing to do right now, but there are quite a few great reasons for getting out there anyway.

A study at the University of Vermont found that visiting an urban park gave people a happiness boost that lasted up to four hours after they left.  The effect of spending time outside nature was so strong that the researchers said it was equivalent to the mood-boost that people get at Christmas.

Loads of other studies have found the same thing – spending time out in nature makes us feel happier, calmer, and just better all round.

 

Call your ‘feel-good’ friend

You know that friend or family member who always manages to put a smile on your face?  The one who just always seems to be upbeat, and whose energy is infectious?  Grab the phone and give them a call, or arrange a zoom get-together with them.

A study at the University of Warwick found that we can pick up moods from other people, so making the effort to spend time with happy people really can make us feel happier too.

 

Do some random acts of kindness

Even the smallest act of kindness towards someone else can give us a boost of happiness.

Doing nice things for other people, from tweeting about a positive experience with a small business to adding a few items to your weekly shop for the local food bank, can make a big difference to how happy you feel.

So get together with your family and come up with a list of random acts of kindness you can carry out together – I’ve put together a list of kindness ideas if you’re not sure where to start.

Getting your children involved will boost the whole family’s happiness levels – studies have shown that just watching acts of kindness gives us a dose of oxytocin (the love hormone) which helps lower stress and anxiety levels as well as helping us feel more connected to our loved ones.

 

Wish others well

If you need something even smaller than a random act of kindness, try simply wishing people well.

Literally, as you pass someone on your next walk try giving them a smile and thinking to yourself that you wish for them to be well and happy.

A study carried out at Iowa State University found that offering kindness to others, even if it’s just in our thoughts, can reduce anxiety and increase happiness.

 

 

Give yourself a treat

Find something that feels like a little treat to you, and then make time in your day to indulge in it.

It could baking a cake to enjoy with your family, or getting something special in for dinner with your partner.

It might be curling up for half an hour with a good book and something chocolatey.

Maybe it’s a bubble bath in the middle of the afternoon or painting your nails in a pretty new colour.

It doesn’t really matter what you choose, as long as it is something that you love, something that you really enjoy and that makes you feel good.

 

Curate your social media feeds

Social media has a strange way of making us feel bad about ourselves, our homes, and our lives in general if we’re not careful.

So give yourself a happiness boost by curating your feeds.

Go through all the accounts you’re following and either mute or unfollow any that make you feel ‘less’ in any way.  Then find new accounts to follow that will bring a dose of joy to your feeds.

Whether it’s cute animals, inspiring quotes, honest and funny parenting stories, pretty interiors or bright colourful images, find the things that make you feel happy when you scroll past them and fill your feeds with them instead of the things that drain you.

Coping in lockdown as an introvert parent

Coping with lockdown as an introvert parent

Remember back in March 2020, when we went into the first national lockdown and there were all sorts of jokes flying around the internet about how this was the introverts’ time to shine?

It did seem almost like an introvert dream come true; the chance to stay at home all day, with the perfect excuse to not go out and socialise.  And chances are for a lot of people that’s still the case.

If you’re like me though, and you’re definitely on the introverted side of the spectrum and you also happen to be a parent, then you might be finding life in lockdown is actually much harder than you thought it would be.

 

Introverts enjoy having time alone.  Spending time with other people might still be fun for them, but it drains their energy and they’ll generally need to have some time to themselves afterwards to recharge.

So suddenly being told to stay at home sounds great, until you realise that you’ll never truly get to spend time by yourself at home when your family are also there with you.  All.  The.  Time.

We all love and adore our families, of course we do, and I’m so grateful not to be trying to get through lockdown on my own, but it can be exhausting to an introvert to always be surrounded by people.  It’s never truly quiet.  There are always demands on your time and attention, especially if your children are young.

I’m still working out how to cope with it all to be honest, but here are some things that I’ve found helpful and that might help you too:

 

Communicate your needs to your family

If you’re struggling and you’ve not done this already, then take a bit of time to talk to your partner and your children about what you need from them.

Chances are they all experience things differently to you, so might not know how much you need some time to yourself to recharge, even if they’re introverts too.  So tell them.  Explain that you need a bit of time, regularly, to have some quiet and to be by yourself.

Be clear and ask for what you need.  And while you’re at it, check in with them and ask what they need too.

 

Find ways to create quiet at home

Once you’ve asked for what you need, you’ll then have to find a way to actually get the quiet you’re desperate for.

You might be able to arrange your working days so that your partner can take the children out somewhere for an hour, so you can actually have the whole house to yourself.

If that’s not an option though you need to look at things like noise cancelling headphones so you can block out the sounds of a house full of people.

The other issue you might have is with needing to buy yourself a bit of time by finding ways to occupy your children that don’t require your constant input.  Card games are great because they don’t need much set-up time and most of the time the rules are simple enough that they don’t need a parent to keep stepping in with explanations.  My children have been really enjoying Dino Dump this year, but if they’re not in the mood to play together then that old classic Solitaire is always a hit too.

And if all else fails then there’s nothing wrong with the children having some more screentime than normal, as far as I’m concerned!

 

Try meditating to get your zen back

When you do manage to get some quiet time to yourself, try using it to meditate for a while.

There are loads of guided meditations on YouTube which are great for beginners who aren’t sure where to start.  Or you could try downloading an app like headspace or calm, but you do have to pay to access all their features.

If meditation feels too far out of your comfort zone then try a bit of mindfulness instead.

There are some great ideas for practising mindfulness throughout the day in this set of mindfulness exercise cards from Mindkompass on Etsy.  Each card gives you a prompt or an exercise to try to leave you feeling calmer and more grounded.

 

Say no to zoom

Video calls have been a bit of a lifeline for everyone throughout lockdown, giving us all a way to stay connected and socialise with friends and family while we can’t see them in person.

The thing with zoom though, is that it can be even more draining than actually meeting up with people at times.  The social cues are harder to read, it’s too easy to talk over each other, and it can feel like you have to be ‘on’ the whole time with the camera on you.

So if you’re being asked to join in with zoom quizzes and video chats all the time, and finding it a struggle, then pick a few nights a week that you want to keep zoom-free.  Make this a non-negotiable night off from all kinds of video chats, phone calls and other virtual meet-ups.

Having these boundaries in place can really help give you back some time to recharge your introvert batteries.

 

Make an effort to socialise in the ways that work for you

As an introvert you might find socialising in big groups draining, but enjoy spending time with a small group of close friends, or one-on-one with people.

If you’re missing those close connections that you normally enjoy then find ways to get that.

The lockdown restrictions in your area might allow you to meet up with one other person for a walk, so reach out to a close friend and arrange to get together.  If that’s still not an option, then arrange a phone call instead, to keep those connections going.

 

Create a relaxing bedtime routine 

If you find that you’re completely worn out by bedtime, but still somehow find it hard to switch off from the demands of juggling work, school work, family life and everything in between, then it’s worth creating a bedtime routine to help.

Here are some things you could try:

  • turn off the tv and put your phone away about an hour before you want to be falling asleep
  • try reading to wind down instead of watching another episode of whatever it is you’re binge-watching
  • make yourself a warm, calming drink, like a mug of night-time tea or some golden milk 
  • follow a guided sleep meditation or watch some ASMR videos to help you relax
  • use a few sprays of Rescue night spray to help you feel calm and help switch off your mind from unwanted, repetitive thoughts
  • have a warm bath with lavender bubble bath or bath salts

 

I know that none of these suggestions will make up for actually being able to take a proper break from everything and having time alone to restore your social energy supplies.  But while we’re in lockdown I’m kind of in the mindset that any little thing that makes even a little bit of difference is worth trying!

So hopefully if you feel the same way, the ideas in this post will help make a bit of a difference to how you cope in lockdown as an introvert parent.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  How are you finding life in lockdown?

7 little things to do to break the monotony of lockdown

7 little ways to break the monotony of lockdown

Life during lockdown starts to feel like groundhog day after a while doesn’t it?

Each day starts to feel the same when you’re so restricted in what you can do, where you can go, and who you can see.  Part of the problem is that once you get into that lockdown rut of doing the same thing day in, day out, it can be really hard to find the motivation to do things differently.

And for busy families juggling home life, work, and school it can feel almost impossible to find the time to do anything differently.  You don’t have to do anything too crazy though.  Just making a few small changes to your routine can be enough to mix things up.

Here are 7 little things you can try to shake up the monotony of life in lockdown and hopefully make things feel a bit less groundhog-day-like.

 

1. Mix up your meal plan

I don’t know about you, but I find it all too easy to end up eating the same meals week after week.  Especially if I do the food shopping online and just add items from my favourites list each time.

So mixing things up and trying some new recipes can be a great way to start getting away from that feeling that every day and week is the same during lockdown.

There are loads of ways to do this too, you could:

  • browse recipes online or flick through old recipe books for inspiration
  • hand control over to your children and get them to choose something new they want to try
  • try a recipe delivery service like Hello Fresh or Gusto
  • see which local restaurants are offering delivery or make-it-yourself boxes
  • keep it as simple as having breakfast for dinner now and then

 

2. Find new routes to walk as a family.

I know.  We’re all fed up of the highlight of our day being ‘going for a walk’, but when it’s pretty much the only thing you can do outside the house then I think we need to keep embracing it!

It is another thing that we can fall into a rut with though, walking to the same places via the same route every time we go out.

So make an effort to try and find new places locally that you can walk to.  Let the children get curious and turn down different roads and see where you end up.

You can also mix up your walks with the children by turning them into scavenger hunts, going nature spotting, or trying a photo walk.

 

3. Find a new spot at home

We’re all creatures of habit really, and when we’re at home all the time we naturally find ourselves drawn to our normal ‘spots’ during the day.

After a while though, sitting in your same old seat, looking at the same four walls around you can really start to get old.  So try looking for a new ‘spot’ to sit in.  Even just sitting on the other end of the sofa with your coffee can give you a slightly different perspective on the room!

If you’re working from home then try moving your desk to a new part of the house, or set yourself up to work from bed for the afternoon.

You could also change things up at home by:

  • rearranging the furniture in a room to give it a whole new look
  • repainting a wall or hanging up some new wall art or family photos
  • getting new bedding and soft furnishings in a colour you wouldn’t usually pick

 

4. Learn a new skill

Life during lockdown might be monotonous, but for loads of people it’s also still incredibly busy.  And you might think you don’t have any time to learn a new skill during all this, but don’t dismiss this idea out of hand.

Learning a new skill is a great way to break out of going through your day on auto-pilot, and doesn’t have to take much time.  There are all sorts of things you can learn, either by yourself or with your children, in about 10 minutes a day, like:

  • a new language – I’ve been learning Welsh on Duolingo since the first lockdown and it’s brilliant!
  • first aid – you could look for a course to follow at home or watch videos from someone like St John’s ambulance on YouTube
  • how to draw – there are so many drawing tutorials to follow on YouTube that break it down and make it fun
  • playing a musical instrument

 

5. Change up your coffee break

Along the same lines of mixing up your meal plan, trying something new with your coffee break can give you something little to look forward to and get you out of the rut of having the same thing, at the same time, day in day out.

You could try a new flavoured coffee, or if you’re a tea-drinker then try something different like biscuit tea for a sweeter drink.

And if you always have the same treats alongside your cuppa, then try mixing that up too.  Bake up some chocolate banana bread, make some oaty biscoff biscuits or try your hand at slow-cooker fudge.

 

6. Try a new type of exercise

Taking time through the week to move your body is so important for mental health, as well as keeping fit and healthy physically.  But, again, this is an area where it’s so easy to get stuck in a rut during lockdown when it feels like your options are really limited.

When you start looking though, there are so many different types of exercise you can try in the comfort of your own home.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • try HIIT workout videos on YouTube.
  • download the C25K (couch to 5k) app and give running a try.
  • follow some yoga sessions on YouTube.  Yoga with Adriene is really popular at the moment, and she has workouts for whatever mood you’re in.
  • get dancing – either stick your favourite music on and make up your own moves, or follow a tutorial online.

 

7. Give a new genre a go

Whether you relax by reading a book or watching TV you probably have a genre that you normally go for, so try picking out something new to change things up a bit.

If you normally watch horror shows then give a light-hearted comedy a try, and if you would automatically pick out a reality tv show, then try a real-life documentary instead.  The same goes for books, if you tend to read the classics then give a new voice a go.

If you’re not sure where to start with finding some new and different then ask your friends and family to recommend something that they think you wouldn’t normally pick out.

 

You don’t have to do all of these things, but just trying to do one or two things differently each week can really make a difference to that feeling that every day is the same during lockdown.

Do you have any other ideas for things to try to break up the monotony?  Please do leave me a comment and inspire me!

 

This post is shared with a moment with Franca and KCACOLS.

What equipment do you need to do yoga_

What equipment do you need for yoga?

Taking up a new sport or activity can be expensive, and sometimes this can be enough for an impulse to get healthy or fit to be pruned before it can take root. But there are also many activities that allow for minimal expense and little to no preparation so that those anxious to begin their new regimen can get started straight away.

Yoga is one of these – you can spend a fortune kitting yourself out with the latest mod cons or you can start right now. Or as soon as you have changed into comfortable clothes!

Let us take a look at the absolute basics needed for yoga.

 

Comfy clothes

Depending on what you go to work in, most people will need to change for their yoga class. You should wear comfortable, loose but not baggy clothing in which you can bend, stretch and contort your body.

Anything too tightly fitted might rip, so leggings or yoga pants and a T-shirt or work-out top are probably going to suit most people the best. Anything revealing should maybe be avoided to prevent unwanted wardrobe malfunctions and embarrassment on both your part and those who get to see a little more of you than they had planned to!

 

Mat matters

Despite being second on this list, a good quality yoga mat is probably the most important item in your yoga equipment. This is because yoga involves a fair amount of getting down on the ground, either on your knees or lying fully prone, and if this causes discomfort you are unlikely to enjoy your workout or get the most out of it.

Choose a mat that suits your needs – you can get thicker, denser, and longer mats for bigger bodies to workout in comfort – and give it a quick wipe down after each use to keep it in good condition for longer.

 

Cushions and blocks

Once you move into the more strenuous poses and stretches, you might find your workout is enhanced by having blocks and cushions that can help you hold poses while you work on your flexibility and strength.

Sometimes a folded towel or blanket will do just as well, but having professional quality non-slip blocks to lean on, and firm, shaped cushions to lift the weight can really improve your yoga experience.

 

Resistance bands

Resistance bands are used in a number of sports and exercise activities, as well as yoga, but they can be invaluable for the latter. Just as blocks can give you a couple of inches wiggle-room in the harder stretches, so too can using a resistance band help you to achieve positions that your body is not quite prepared for.

For example, bending forward to hold your foot means that you must be very flexible in the back, hips and legs, as it works the whole ham-string and the full length of your back.

Holding onto a resistance band slipped around the foot gives you the same stretching benefit without demanding that you actually have that level of fitness and flexibility – and it helps you to become more flexible so you can ultimately achieve these positions without extra help!

 

If you have all of these items, you have a comprehensive range of yoga equipment that will help you get started and maintain your journey to good health, better flexibility and a superbly strong core!

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post