What’s in My Gym Bag: Yoga Instructor Nina Monobe

Photo courtesy of Nina Monobe.

Who: Nina Monobe, 32, lives in Stafford
Does: Onelife Fitness cycle and yoga instructor
Approach to fitness: “My mission as a yoga and fitness instructor is to bring awareness to people that yoga can be fun and make you flexible and strong from the inside out. On the inside, people find focus, emotional stability, confidence, and, most importantly, acceptance and self-love, without losing sight of their goals. From the outside, they lose weight and gain muscles and flexibility, given the right approach. As any exercise, yoga starts from a mindset. If you set yourself up for failure, there is not much that the world can give back to you. However, if you leave behind basic misconceptions, such as age limitations and level of flexibility, the sky is the limit.”

The Bag

Monobe teaches several different styles of yoga, as well as a variety of fitness classes. So she needs a bag that can hold a lot of stuff. This one is able to carry a yoga mat, towels, yoga blocks, and all her personal items, she says. “All Day I Namaste” bag; $35; Amazon

Yoga Strap

Yoga straps can do wonders for tight hamstrings and hips, allowing beginners to keep a safe, efficient posture while lengthening their muscles. Even advanced practitioners can use them to deepen their backbends or binds,” says Monobe. “This strap in particular also functions as a mat-carrying strap, which makes my life easier if I need to use some extra room in my gym bag or if I just want to take my mat somewhere for some outdoor yoga.” Unicorn mat strap; $27; Yo Dog Yoga

Yoga Mat

Monobe recommends choosing a yoga mat that has alignment lines to help you self-correct while practicing, as well as good grip to stabilize joints and keep you from slipping. “Being grounded is the foundation of yoga,” she says. Yoga mat; $140; Liforme 

Yoga blocks

“Teaching and practicing yoga daily taught me to be more careful with my joints,” says Monobe, who always carries these with her. She likes the cork blocks because they provide more support than those made of foam. Cork yoga block; $15; Gaiam 

Workout gear

Monobe usually has an extra workout outfit in her bag so she can start each class fresh. She tries to stick to brands that support environmental causes or use eco-friendly material. “As yogis, it is even in these small details that we can show our love to Mother Earth,” she says. Om leggings; $58; Liquido Active

Essential oils

At the end of each class she teaches, Monobe passes around essential oils for her clients to rub on their wrists. In between teaching, she uses the oils as perfume, as they help to relieve stress and anxiety, she says. Essential oils; $30; Adoratherapay 

Japa Mala

More than giving a stylish look, Japa Malas are truly meaningful in yoga,” says Monobe. “Not only do the gemstones or beads have their own unique energy, but they also provide a way to count repetitive movements (flows), breaths (pranayama), shantis, or words.” Japa Mala; $14; Mala Prayer

Eye pillow

For those who struggle to keep their mind from wandering during savasana, Monobe recommends these eye pillows, which are scented with lavender. Lavender eye pillow; $17; Etsy


Monobe calls these her “best friends,” as she teaches multiple classes a day. “Keeping notes of extra poses, creative sequences, and inspirational quotes for meditation can be a lifesaver when trying to avoid monotony.” Flash cards; $5; Amazon

Hand sanitizer

Monobe keeps this hand sanitizer in her bag to clean mats post-class and keep her hands germ-free as she assists people with poses. Plus, it’s paraben-free and organic. EO Hand Sanitizer; $22; Amazon

Vegan supplements 

“It is easier for any vegetarian or vegan to lack certain vitamins and essential amino acids and to experience digestive issues,” says Monobe, who is a vegetarian. “Lyfefuel is my ‘go-to’ vegan supplement and serves as a complete light meal if I’m in a hurry.” Supplements and shakes; prices vary; Lyfefuel 


Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.