Do I really need yoga props?

The short answer is no. But I like using props. They offer excellent support and feedback. Of course, there are ways to adjust and modify without them however if you practise yoga regularly you may very well benefit from using these props.

I thought it might be a useful guide since we are all practising from home and using online yoga during lockdown.

If you want to practise yoga with me you can join my online classes (live via zoom + recorded yoga) here or enquire about private yoga sessions – all via zoom.

In this blog, I’ll share some of the most common props. And in the next, I’ll share other props and support I like to include too.

Yoga mat

A yoga mat may be your very first investment. It doesn’t need to be super expensive. In fact, you can get some pretty good ones in TK Maxx.

Why a yoga mat?

If you practise on a carpet it is easy to slide around, challenging to get a grip and actually hold the pose. This may be the same for both tiled and wooden floors. There is just a lack of stability and a good mat can provide grip, anti-slip and support. Additionally, it offers a bit of cushioning. This is especially useful if you practise on hard wooden floors.

Currently, I use a Liforme yoga mat at home. The ones we had a the Studio in Streatham was Ekotex – both the super thin and the more cushioned ones. Have a look here for a newer improved selection.

I do not recommend pilates mats or the soft foam mats similar to camping mats. They slide on the floor, don’t give enough grip, they are slippery, and can be too soft.

Having said that… I do like the mat-less universe too. Free to flow around in space rather than restricted on a rectangle!

 

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Yoga blankets – any blanket or towel will do

Blankets are so versatile:

  • Nice and warm as a cover during relaxation.
  • Fold it up to sit on instead of a block or meditation cushion.
  • Fold it to keep it under your knees for extra cushioning.
  • Roll it for support under the knees in any seated pose with the legs straight. Or under the thigh/knee to support your hip and knee joints in poses such as Bound Angle Pose, Or Janu Sirsasana where you bend the knee to the side. Or even in Shavasana.
  • Roll one or two into a sausage shape and use as a bolster.
  • Use it under the pelvis in pigeon pose for alignment.

So many ways to play around with the modest blanket so have one ready for your yoga session.

Yoga Belts, or use any belt, tie or scarf

Belts can be used to extend your arms.

Say in a seated forward bend: Instead of rounding the back to reach for the toes sit up nice and tall (maybe on your blanket) and use the belt around the feet to support your posture. Keeping your back nice a tall, encourage the forward/anterior tilt of the pelvis and broaden the collar bones. Same thing if you are lying down and extending a leg. Or standing up and extending the leg.

Even in backbend or twists where the direction is to bring hands and feet together such as Dancer’s Pose or Pigeon Pose with the arms overhead.

But belts are also excellent to use for shoulder mobility movements. For support in some seated or reclining poses.

Definitely have one or two belts ready for your yoga session.

Yoga blocks or bricks

Blocks are such great feedback and are super useful for alignment as well as supported restorative poses.

In forward bends you can use them to “raise the floor”. We can do a standing forward bend bringing the hands to the blocks rather than the floor. Just like we use the belt to “extend out arms” this will help us to support our body not to round the back but extend and lengthen.

Same goes for any other pose where we might feel we “have to” reach for the floor. Say in Triangle Pose or Extended Side Angle: you may want to keep your hand on your thigh or shin. But if you reach for the floor you collapse. Using a block raises the floor and for some people gives the perfect sensation and alignment in their body.

I also love the blocks for support. A bit like the blanket: use them to sit on, support sensitive knees or hips. Create more space in lunges. Use them in supported backbends like a modified Fish Pose or Bridge Pose.

In any forward bends including Childs Pose or Pigeon Pose use your block to support your head

More experimental use them as guides for alignment.

The Wall – yes just your regular bare wall or perhaps a door

Just like the floor gives us alignment cues as we press feet or hands into the earth so will the wall. Walls are great as feedback on our posture.

Walls can also be used similar to the floor and with the floor. Who doesn’t love lying down with the legs up the wall? Then what about moving into a hip-opening pose, or squat at the wall lying on the floor?

Downward Dog against the wall is perfect too especially for those with wrist issues or find the regular Downward Dog a challenge.

And pretty essential as support and guidance in preparation for hand- and forearm stands.

Standing poses against the wall for strength, stability, alignment or to relax against.

Chair or stools (or even better a gym/pilates/birth ball)

Just as I love legs-up-the-wall pose I also love resting the lower legs on a chair/sofa/bed. Even a modified Child’s Pose. Chairs give more space in forward bend whether seated or standing. Simply rest over the chair to find more length and openness.

If standing poses are challenging or you need extra support you can sit on the chair. You can easily to warrior poses for example on a chair. Legs can still move into position and you can always enjoy the arm variations.

Chairs can be used a bit like your yoga blocks or the wall.

Bolsters

I wanted to add the bolsters here too. For some, they may seem big and a luxury. They are. But they really are so useful. Even when you are not doing yoga or have time for a yoga session.

I might just use mine for a few minutes in a supported backbend (either raising my chest or my pelvis). Maybe as knee support in a Shavasana variation. Not necessarily as a “yoga session” but just for a few moments. I also just use it to sit on, recline on, as a table when I sit on the floor… Endless possibilities.

A bolster can be used as above for supported and restorative backbends as well as Shavasana. But can also be used in forward folds. Either under the knees or to lean over. You can even put it upright for more space.

Use it under the pelvis in Pigeon Pose or perhaps under the head or support under the torso. It’s great for Child’s Pose leaning over the bolster.

For seated meditations especially in Hero’s Pose: sitting astride the bolster lower legs on the ground.

It can in some ways be used as blocks for support in restorative relaxing poses.

I highly recommend a bolster or even two.

Where should I get my props from?

There are lots of independent offerings around so support your local shops or independents if you can.

My current mat is Liforme which is a huge investment and there are lots of much cheaper options although I do love it!

I discovered Ekotex. It was previously The Yoga Shop and it was where I got the mats and belts for the studio in Streatham. I like their ethics and sustainability ethos.

The mats seem to have been upgraded and recently ordered some cork blocks from there which I really love. They also have bolsters, blankets and eye pillows.

Link for Ekotex
Link for Liforme

If you want to practise yoga with me you can join my online classes (live via zoom + recorded yoga) here or enquire about private yoga sessions – all via zoom.