a guide to using yoga props
There are yoga practitioners who shun the use of yoga props because they are not traditional. Traditionally, yoga was practiced by 12 year old Indian boys preparing for meditation practice. Since we are not all built alike and not built like 12 year old boys, I wholeheartedly recommend props because they are useful to provide stability and support in various postures for anybody and any body to practice with ease.
According to the 2016 Yoga in America Survey, Americans spent $3.6 billion on yoga props and equipment. You do not need to buy the latest and greatest gear. Most studios and instructors provide props for their students.
If you plan to practice yoga frequently, I strongly recommend you buy your own yoga mat. A yoga mat is something that gives you a small piece of real estate to make you feel at home, wherever you and your mat travels. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the choices: a rainbow of colors, solid or prints, materials, width (standard & wide), thickness (2-10MM), stickiness & reasonable-rediculous cost ($8.99-$140).
Over the years, I’ve test driven my fare share of yoga mats. My favorite yoga mat is a faded blue, thin (3mm), lightweight, inexpensive ($9.99 from TJ Maxx). This mat has been excellent an travel companion on my adventures around the world providing me a rectangular patch of earth I can always call home. When heading to a group class or retreat, I prefer my thicker mat (5mm) to give me a little extra padding a top of those wooden floors. In a pinch, I’ve also used a sarong, Mexican blanket & beach towel. Traditionally, rugs were used. Check out YOGA MATS
Blocks are only for kids! Yoga blocks are helpful to elevate the floor help you to explore poses in proper alignment and help to provide support in balance poses. If you are planning on attending group classes or private one-on-one sessions, the studio and/or instructor will most likely have these available for you to use. If you are looking to have a space in your home for practice, these would be a wise investment. Check out YOGA BLOCKS
Bamboo: This was the first set of blocks I picked up because bamboo is a renewable resource. These are great for travel because they are lightweight. Given the rigidity of the material, it does not give when you press into the block: good for balance poses. The blocks are good on sticky surfaces but can slip when placed on another wooden surface. Older blocks have squared off edges which can be uncomfortable to use for certain poses but newer ones have rounded edges.
Cork: I’ve never picked up a pair of cork blocks to use at home or in my studio. Cork blocks are much heavier to carry around than bamboo or foam but are very sturdy and comfortable to rest upon. They are good to use on wood floors and sticky surfaces without worrying about slipping on the floor.
Foam: These blocks are a good middle-ground between the bamboo and cork blocks: flexible and lightweight. They are easy to carry around but the soft material can get battered in the process. They are comfortable to use in supportive poses and inexpensive. These can vary in dimensions: 9 x 6 x 4 or 9 x 6 x 3. I prefer the former.
Straps are useful to extend the length of your arm to reach for your foot. They come in lengths usually from 6-10 feet. This is another yoga accessory which is good to have your own. Yoga straps are small, lightweight and inexpensive (usually less than $15). If you are at home, you can always substitute using a belt or scarf. Check out YOGA STRAPS
Bolsters and pillows are used in classes that offer a restorative element and/or meditation. If you are attending classes that offer these components, they usually have them available for use. If you wish to use these for a home practice choose a bolster or pillow that makes you happy, comfortable and encourages you to sit on it for yoga or meditation. Check out YOGA BOLSTERS
You don’t need to get fancy. Sitting on a pillow or cushion in your home don’t cost you a cent or a trip to the store.
Mexican blankets are found in many yoga studios to sit upon to lift your hips and to cover you up during relaxation/Yoga Nidra. No worries, you do not need a trip to south of the border since most studios have these on hand to keep you covered. At home, you can choose any of your favorite blankets.
If you are headed to a Hot yoga class (Bikram) or a traditional Ashtanga class, a towel might become one of your new best friends. I am sure you have plenty of towels in your household or your gym. There are yoga towels specifically designed to keep you from slipping on your mat while soaking up your sweat. Check out YOGA TOWELS
You will see plenty of other merchandise offered for yoga practice. Spend your money on whatever makes you want to practice yoga or enjoy the practice but remember:
The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your mind & your body