What’s Up With Down Dog

Innovations in Yoga Props, Yoga Clothes and Yoga Classes
Nearly 16 million people in the U.S. — 6.9% of the population — practice yoga. With all that interest, new yoga products and yoga classes are popping up all the time to keep up with demand. One of the biggest benefits of yoga’s growing popularity is that the constant innovation in clothing fabrics, props, accessories and styles of yoga keep it interesting and meet an expanding variety of needs. Here are a few of the new yoga trends we can’t wait to try and items we find irresistible.

Yoga goes digital

New developments in technology are turning your yoga mat into a veritable iPad. Take the Audio Yoga Mat, for example. A streamlined speaker right in the mat plays your MP3 or iPod® player. It comes with a free downloadable audio workout, but you can also download daily lessons online from Gaiam Yoga Studio. Or try out Gaiam’s streaming video service, Gaiam TV, which offers hundredes of online yoga classes you can watch on your computer, TV, smartphone or portable device.Talk about yoga to go!

Yoga clothes get smarter

New advances in fitness clothing have made their way to the yoga studio. Lululemon, for example, has a line of yogawear made with luon®, a synthetic blend that wicks moisture (great for hot yoga) and offers four-way stretch for freedom of movement. If you’re looking for natural-fiber apparel, Gaiam’s yoga clothes are made from eco-friendly fabrics: organic cotton, soybean fiber, and rayon from sustainable bamboo. I’d be remiss not to mention my personal favorite yoga pants and yoga top because, though I might be a teeny bit biased, they’re truly the most comfortable yoga clothes I’ve owned in 15 years of practice.

Accessories reflect global influence

Ubuntu is an African concept that translates loosely as “I am what I am because of who we all are” — the synergy between people as individuals and the communities to which they belong. It’s about how we’re all connected. We’re seeing more products crafted with a heart for the philosophy of ubuntu. Take a look at these yoga bags: Prana’s batik-inspired yoga bag, the Sari Yoga Bag, Athleta’s Buzz Backpack, and Gaiam’s fair-trade Embroidered Mat Bag and Akha Yoga Backpack.

Headbands are huge

Bangs are in, but so is vision, which has led to a head-turning number of cute new headbands on the market. Hugger Mugger’s is made of soft merino wool for a versatile accessory that keeps your ears (or neck) warm. For a style that doesn’t look like you're heading to the gym, check out the Laurel Headband by Pistil™. Thick hair requires more “muscle.” Try the Power Double Strap Headband from Lucy.

Posing with purpose

Beyond patience and listening to your body, yoga teaches us that we are all connected. So it’s exciting to see the life-changing power of yoga channeled into social outreach. Africa Yoga Project, for example, helps vulnerable East African communities by teaching yoga to impoverished families to better manage stress, improve health and cultivate a spirit of peace, trust and connectedness. The Giving4Living movement allows yogis to participate in, sponsor or host Yoga Aid challenge events worldwide. And many yoga studios hold fundraisers for local and international causes. Get inspired to join other yogis with a cause at Global Mala Yoga for Peace, Yoga in Action, a small-group movement of Off the Mat Into the World®, and YogaActivist.org.

Yoga gets down to earth

Innovation in eco-friendly materials in the past year has made it easier and less expensive to find yoga mats and yoga props made with personal and planetary wellness in mind. Gaiam's brand-new Green Tea Yoga Mat is free of six of the most harmful phthalates and it’s got a grippy new texture. Made without latex and PVC, the Earth Elements Mat from Hugger Mugger is biodegradable and recyclable. Cork, which is naturally antifungal, is sustainably harvested, making it a great eco alternative for yoga bricks, like these from Gaiam and Manduka. Even the humble-but-essential yoga strap has made a debut in earth-happy hemp.

As in your practice, yoga is ever changing for the better. New developments in yoga fabrics, new thinking for yoga props and new purpose for your yoga practice invite you to try something new yourself. There’s never been a better time to get off the couch and get onto the mat! 

Practice yoga at home or on the go with yoga videos on GaiamTV.com!

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