Use What You Have and The Non Hauled Yoga Kit*

*Spoiler – except the new mat.

Use what you have. The first line on the buyerarchy of needs. Isn’t it strange that this can often feel like some sort of art? Shouldn’t using what you’ve got at home rather than buying something from a shop be easy? Or at least easier?


The Buyerarchy of Needs. 

I’ve recently started yoga again and love my new class. The gym have a few yoga mats for beginners but after a couple of sessions they request that you bring your own.

Here’s a quick run down of what happened when I ran through the buyerarchy before buying a new mat:

Use What You Have: I don’t have a mat.

Borrow: I have lots of friends who do yoga but I don’t feel comfortable asking to borrow their mat for weekly, sometimes twice weekly, practice.

Swap: I don’t really know what I’d swap for a mat or who I’d find to swap with. I could put an ad out for one on Freecycle, but to be honest, that feels a bit weird. Yoga can get pretty sweaty.

Thrift: I could look out for one in a charity shop, Gumtree or an online selling group. This is my second best option. The sweaty issue is still an issue though.

Make: I don’t have a sewing machine or a very good knowledge of making things (although there’s an 11 step guide on WikiHow if you do and fancy making your own yoga mat). Buying all of the equipment and materials to do this would cost more than the mat itself.

Buy: on this occasion I’m buying. I’ve opted for a Yogi Bare Paws mat. It’s eco and will hopefully last for a long time.

But my bigger problem isn’t just about buying one new product. It’s that upon deciding to buy a new mat, my mind wandered and I’ve just had a near miss with an eye-wateringly expensive yoga themed spending spree.

This is what happened last week. Open laptop, open google. Search eco yoga mats; read best buy reviews; look at a couple of retailers; think about yoga leggings and tee to go with new mat; find ethical yoga clothes retailers (Gossypium have some incredible things and Rubymoon have just launched an incredible eco gym to swim range); question whether a new water bottle would be useful; think about buying a block and strap; would a DVD be a good idea?

Does this seem familiar? Or is it just me? I mean, I only needed a mat. Not a huge, and very expensive haul of yoga gear.

What is it with the lure of the haul? Or actually, the obsession with the new? Clothes, food, make-up, holidays, birthdays, child development, sports, cars, interiors, accessories. There is no part of our lives which isn’t in someway touched by the need for more stuff.

I’ve talked about how time-sapping shopping is and how I’d rather be doing other things. I found the freedom from new stuff during the Six Items Challenge really liberating. I told you it had changed my habits. Yet there I was tapping away, ignoring my own best advice. Yes, a few new items of yoga clothes would be worn more than once. And I’m sure I’d use a block too. But perspective came during downward-facing dog last week when I realised that actually the exercise clothes I already own are fine. More importantly they’re doing a great job of covering my midriff without falling over my head. And to be honest, that, a decent sports bra to hold it all in and a pair of leggings that are not see through around the crotch and over the bum are my only true concerns when it comes to yoga clothes. And all of the other stuff? Completely unnecessary at the moment. That’s not to say that I’ll never buy anything for yoga in the future. I just don’t need it right now.

Themed sprees are bad enough but it made me think back to when I bought clothes more regularly. If you’re into fast fashion and on top of most new trends, you’re going to “need” the accessories, shoes and other pieces to match in. Because essentially, fast fashion unless chosen very, very carefully (or as was the case with me, a large dose of luck) is made up almost entirely of poor quality one hit wonders. It’s a bit like buying the ingredients for a new recipe, the recipe not working out and not knowing how to use the ingredients for anything else. Or worse, not being bothered to find an alternative and leaving them to go out of date. And then chucking them away 2 years later. Spices, lime leaves, bargain basement high street finds and cheap as chips necklaces have all had a similar fate in my past.

There’s also the wanting-to-feel-the-part bit of buying new stuff. Insecurities and buying go hand in hand in my eyes. Want to feel like you fit in? New stuff will help you! How often do you see tribes of teenagers, mums or politicians all wearing identi-kit uniforms? Using what you have is redundant when you’re buying to quench a feeling and not a practical need.

Having not done yoga for 7 years and being completely out of practice made me feel really rubbish. I’m not going to lie, I had a few sad tears in childs’ pose during the first session because I just couldn’t keep up like I used to. The thought of turning up at the next lesson in new kit and looking more the part definitely crossed my mind. But actually, having been to 4 or 5 sessions, I can feel the difference already and I’ve worn nearly exactly the same clothes since that first session. I just remembered to leave the baggy tee at home and to wear a vest. You’ll never look better in a yoga pose because you’ve just invested in the latest kit. Ever.

I plan to keep going regularly to yoga classes, but buying all new kit isn’t going to be the driving force behind that. No vest will improve my sun salutations. DVD over YouTube isn’t going to mean more yoga at home. Time, motivation and having fun will. These are the things to move your attention to: creating time, having motivation and trying new things to find out what works for you, and most importantly enjoying what you’re doing. Satisfaction is here, and not in browsing, buying and haul piles.

To reward the non-haul I spent a little more than I was planning when I chose my yoga mat. I couldn’t justify the Liforme Yoga Mat at £105. If you have some cash to splash and you’re serious about yoga, then this is the mat for you. The Yogi Bare Paws mat is a mid-range mat and costs £50. I could easily have scrimped and bought a £15 mat to leave money for some of the other stuff I had my eye on. But by buying less, you get to buy better. And quite frankly, who doesn’t like better?


The non-hauled yoga kit. Clockwise from top left: Unoa organic cotton sweater, Jerry bottle still going strong a year later, Gap Fit crop top and cropped leggings (birthday presents from Mum), 2 year old H&M and Braintree (now Thought) vests from breastfeeding days. And of course the new Yogi Bare Paws mat. 

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