Setting Up Your Yoga & Pilates Studio at Home


Since COVID19, most of us have been working out from home. My live, online classes have been very popular (yay!), and I’ve absolutely LOVED teaching them. 

Many, many thanks to those of you have joined class. Connecting with you every day is one of the highlights of my day.

If you want to see my current schedule CLICK HERE

You may not even realize it, but when you’re joining me for an online class, I’m actually teaching from my garage…and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ve totally fallen IN LOVE with my garage. It’s my she-cave of wellness goodness. 

Joining a live class is a wonderful way to receive cueing for your specific body and in-the-moment answers to your questions. As an extra bonus, these classes have created a wonderful way to connect with others and to be a part of a community. I encourage my students to ask questions throughout class which allows everyone to learn from each other. 

Collecting a couple of tools for your home workouts can make a big difference to the effectiveness of your workouts and to your experience in class. However, a pillow, a towel and two cans of food can also do the trick! 

If you are curious about what tools to get, here’s a list of my favorites: 

Soft Foam Roller

There are SO MANY different foam rollers to choose from. However, most foam rollers are too firm and can create a stressful response in the body and damage the fascia.  A firm massage is excellent, but a painful massage is not which is why I prefer the soft foam roller. 

Manduka PRO yoga mat thick
Manduka PRO yoga mat lite 
Manduka Eko yoga mat 

Manduka Organic Spray for yoga mats 

You can also visit Manduka’s website and bundle several items together like a yoga mat, blocks, yoga mat cleaner & yoga strap. Enter ISHBELWELL at checkout. 

Gaiam yoga mat 
Gaiam Extra Thick yoga mat 

Manduka is absolutely the queen bee in the yoga mat world. If you plan to use your yoga mat often, I would highly recommend springing for a Manduka mat. 

Deciding between a thick or a thin mat is really up to your personal preference. If you notice that your bones feel achy when you lay on hard surfaces, you might consider buying the heavy mat to provide you a little extra padding. But, the heavy yoga mat is also…heavy! And if you’re planning on carting it around to various locations, it might feel like a lot to lug around! 

Yoga mats like Gaiam (which sell for around $20-$30) have a tendency to lose their grip and as time goes on, shed tiny bits of yoga mat onto your hands and in between your toes. When you’re trying to enjoy your workout, this is not fun and can tremendously distract from your experience. 

If buying a Manduka yoga mat isn’t in your budget, Gaiam is a reliable company. You will notice that the mat begins to degrade in about 6 months after regular use. Gaiam also makes a very thick mat which is best for Pilates, but is not ideal for yoga. 

Also, cheap yoga mats are horrendous on the environment. I love Manduka’s Eko yoga mat because it’s recyclable and biodegradable…and it’s a long-term mat that you won’t have to replace for years. 

It might seem silly to buy yoga mat cleaning spray, but yoga mats are quite absorbable and need a special cleaning product to keep them fresh and long-lasting. I love Manduka’s Organic yoga mat cleaning spray. It smells delicious and is totally natural which makes a big difference when your up-close-and-personal with your mat. 

Manduka yoga bolster
Yoga Accessories bolster

There truly are no words for how much I love yoga…and really, for how much I NEED yoga. Over the last 20 years I’ve practiced and taught every single type of yoga there is: kundalini, vinyasa, iyengar, anusara, yin, hatha, restorative. Some forms of yoga only require a yoga mat. Other forms of yoga are tremendously improved with a few helpful tools. 

Of all the forms of yoga I’ve practiced over the years, yin and restorative yoga are by far my favorite. They involve deeply-held stretches that are not only amazing for remodeling your fascial system but also heal the nervous system. 

A yoga bolster is what makes yin and restorative yoga enjoyable…and possible! Both yin and restorative yoga are most effective when a participant can truly relax into the position. Thus, if you’re ready to dive into a deep, restful yoga practice like yin or restorative yoga, you’ll need a bolster, a yoga strap and yoga blocks. 

On Wednesday’s @ 12:30 I teach an online Calming Yoga, Meditation and Self-Massage class. You can experience the stress-relieving benefits of yin/restorative yoga in this class. CLICK HERE for more information. 

Gaiam yoga block
Manduka Cork yoga block
Manduka Recycled yoga block 

As I’ve previously stated in this blog post, Manduka is absolutely my favorite yoga tool company, but if you’re tight on money, Gaiam is a good second-choice.  Yoga tools can be incredibly tough on the environment, which is why I love the many recycled options Manduka sells.

If you’re debating between the Manduka cork and recycle blocks, there are pro’s and con’s for both. The cork yoga block is a little bit sturdier than the recycled block and thus will provide a bit more support. Conversely, the recycled yoga block is ideal for restorative and yin yoga as it as a slightly softer feel and “gives” more. 

Yoga blocks are used in all forms of yoga to provide extra support in restorative postures as well as in standing postures. You’ll be amazed by how many exercises you can incorporate these blocks into.

Want a workout that will leave your inner thighs and your abs screaming? Yoga blocks are your answer. 

Want to open your heart and relax your spine? You’ll need a yoga block for the full spa-experience. 

EKTOS 100% Wool Yoga Blanket

Aside from yoga mats, I’m the most particular about yoga blankets. When it comes to yoga there’s absolutely no comparison between a regular blanket and a wool blanket. 

Wool blankets are thick and highly malleable which translates really well to restorative/yin yoga. You can adjust the shape of the wool blanket to accommodate your body, and it’s incredibly cozy for savasana. 

While it’s unlikely your blanket will get dirty enough to require cleaning, here’s a word on caring for your wool blanket: 

1. You shouldn’t wash your wool blanket in a top loading machine with an agitator. It can severely damage the blanket. If you don’t have a front loading washing machine, take it to dry cleaner. Wash it in cold water, gentle cycle, with a little soap which is gentle or specifically made for wool. 

2. Line/air dry as directed, then put it in the dryer with 3 tennis balls on NO HEAT/FLUFF for 10-20 min cycles. It’s normal for the blanket to shed a bit and thus you should clean our your lint screen each time. 

3. Sometimes people are freaked out by the smell of wool. The smell comes from lanolin which is a naturally occurring substance in wool. The smell will lessen with time. 

Manduka yoga strap 10 feet
5BILLION Yoga Stretching Strap w/ grips

Yoga straps are really helpful for supporting the arms and legs in yoga poses. Sometimes, a yoga strap is the difference between you being able to do a pose with ease and not being able to do it at all. 

The 5BILLION Yoga Stretching Strap is a nice option for those of you whose hands get tired holding a traditional yoga strap. I like this option for people who have arthritis in their hands, or who struggle with rotator cuff issues. 

STOTT 2lb Toning Balls

When it comes to Pilates-specific equipment, it’s hard to beat STOTT Pilates equipment. It’s incredibly well-made and designed by Pilates instructors who have decades upon decades of experience. 

What’s the difference between a toning ball and a hand weight? A lot actually!

There are entire Pilates workouts designed around toning balls. The fact that they roll diversifies the Pilates experience and allows for Pilates exercises normally done on large pieces of Pilates equipment (like the reformer) to be done on the mat. 

I promise you – you will be amazed at how much you can do with these little guys! 

Thera Band Non-latex medium tension
Thera Band Non-latex heavy tension

The Thera Band company is the gold standard in exercise bands. 

I love these bands because they’re latex-free, and lot of people have skin reactions to latex. 

The medium tension pack is great for beginner to intermediate Pilates students. 

The heavy bands are absolutely NOT ideal for most people. I would only recommend these for people who are used to lifting heavy weights. But, if you are a weight-lifter, I can promise you that you will be sweating in no time with these. They can turn a traditional Pilates practice up 10 notches and make your gym workout look like child’s play. 

J-Fit exercise therapy ball 7inch

This guy may seem small, but it packs a mighty punch.

With the right choreography, your glutes, abs, arms, legs and back will get the workout of their lives. 


Jabra Elite 65t Earbuds 
Ring Light iPad & iPhone Holder 
Logitech C920 Webcam 

I am absolutely allergic to technological devices. I see one, and I feel like I break out in hives! Some of my dearest friends have helped me compile this list, and I am forever grateful to them, as understanding how all of these devices work and which one is good, etc. is totally over my head and is of no interest to me! 

If you are taking online exercise classes, it can sometimes be hard to hear your instructor when you step far away from your device…which you often need to do so that they can see your form. The Jabra Elite 65t are nice to have in this situation. 

The Ring Light iPad & iPhone Holder is a natural light + a device holder in one. This stand makes it super easy to move your ipad/iphone up and down or tilt forward or back to get the perfect angle. One of the biggest challenges doing group classes or private sessions online is figuring out how to get your device in the right position. It can be very frustrating when it’s falling off the chair you put it on and falling on its face, etc! In addition, the ring light is adjustable so that you can warm or cool the look of the light to help eliminate shadows and made you easier to see.

​Word to the wise: when initially getting your Ring Light set up, do so on a carpeted area. As you figure out how all of the attachments work, it is not uncommon for the frame holding your ipad to bounce around or eject your ipad without warning. This happened to me, and my poor, beautiful ipad was smashed. Miraculously it still works, but nonetheless a whole heck of a lot of stress could have been avoided if I was on carpet. 

The Logitech C920 Webcam is a great choice for clarifying your video quality…so I’ve been told by numerous people, but I haven’t tried it myself yet. I’m just ordering mine today, so I will touch back on what I think of it. Right now I’m just nervous about how easy it’s going to be to set up, but as with all technological devices, I’m learning it’s trial and error. 


Remember, you don’t need any tools to make your online class experience enjoyable, BUT, if you are able to spend a little on equipping your home studio, you’ll find that your workouts can be even more enjoyable and effective than they already are. 


The links I’ve used in this post are called “affiliate links.” Which means, if you click on the link and make a purchase from that vendor, based on my recommendation, I may earn a commission for that sale, future sales or recurring billings.
I only promote things that I truly believe will benefit you. In addition, I only recommend products or services that I’ve personally used and benefitted from myself.
I I haven’t tried it or used it myself and had a positive experience, I’m not going to suggest it to you. So you can rest assure that anything I recommend is going to be the highest quality.
One other thing worth mentioning is that I am not given free products, services or tools in exchange for a review or promotion on my sites or to my subscribers. The only compensation I receive comes by way of an affiliate commission if you purchase it yourself.

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About me

About Ishbel

For the last twenty years, I have helped people take charge of their health and feel better. I have been in your shoes - sick, tired, and overwhelmed by how to actionably care for myself. If you want to feel better, but don't know where to start, you've come to the right place. Learn More >


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