Yoga: seven ways to practice for less

Though Americans spent $5.7 billion on yoga products in 2008, practicing doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg.

Follow these tips to find the many benefits of yoga for less -- your body and mind will thank you.
Try it for Free

Hit up for free yoga classes and enter your information for a list of nearby studios. A free pass not only lets you check out the space but also determine what kind of yoga you like best.

Do the Math
Most studios offer multiple membership options, including monthly plans, punch passes and individual class prices. Do the math to determine which one is best for you. I save about $20 per month by opting for the monthly plan over the punch-pass plan, but I keep a regular schedule. Others who don't have the luxury of committing to class twice a week might prefer a pay-as-you-go method.

Rent Before You Buy
Some yoga studios have mats available for rent when you're just starting out. A brand-name, high-quality mat costs between $50 and $100, so it pays to test out mats and the studio before investing. If you decide to move forward with yoga and want to purchase your own mat, check out these recommendations from Consumer Search.

DVD vs. Studio
I confess: a "Yoga for Dummies" DVD was my first introduction to the practice. Despite the playful brand, I learned the foundational postures from the comfort of my living room. DVDs are certainly the more frugal approach to learning yoga, but I recommend taking a few classes to understand the proper form. Instructors will make adjustments and offer detailed explanations for how positions should feel. This is essential to reducing your risk for injury and getting the most out of your practice.

Subscribe for Savings
If you're really interested in making yoga part of your daily routine, consider subscribing to Yoga Journal or a similar magazine. In addition to articles offering additional insight into the practice and lifestyle, each issue features an at-home sequence that you can also watch online. Books, DVDs and online tutorials are other affordable additions to your daily practice.

Get Gear for Less
Extra sticky mats and organic cotton pants may be staples in your yoga studio, but they're certainly not a requirement for practice. Avoid the yoga-specialty stores if you're on a budget and look for mats, blocks and other accessories at discount retailers. I purchased two yoga blocks for $10 at TJMaxx, for example, after having priced them at Sports Authority for $15 per block.

Practice Anywhere
These days, you can find yoga classes at your local studio, fitness club, online via Web videos and even department stores. According to a recent article in the Dallas Business Journal, JCPenney will offer yoga and pilates classes at the center of select store locations. Regardless of where you choose to go, yoga can be practiced nearly anywhere. While yoga doesn't require equipment, yogis on-the-go might like no-slip gloves and socks to stay grounded, like those popularized by ToeSox.