It’s hard to believe that I have been practicing yoga for almost 30 years! I took my first class at a local recreation centre with my girlfriends and something in the practice spoke to me. Thirty years later I still enjoy my practice and have made a career of the practice. As a regular practitioner of yoga, I know the importance of using appropriate props. And although having props on my mat has been consistent, the type of props has changed quite a bit over the years.
These are the props that I use regularly at home and prefer to have on hand when I am teaching my students:
Yoga Mat - A good quality yoga mat is essential for any yoga practice. It provides a comfortable and stable surface to practice on. I like to use a mat with an excellent grip to avoid slipping during practice. I prefer to have a thin mat so that I can “feel” the ground better. This is a personal preference. I know that many students enjoy a thicker mat, but just something to think of…a thicker mat can be more challenging to balance if that is something that you struggle with.
Yoga Blocks - These are great props to help with alignment and provide support in various poses. They come in different sizes and can be used to modify your poses or to help support the body while relaxing. I find that having at least two blocks is helpful for most practices. I prefer to have two thinner blocks and two thicker blocks. The size difference can be helpful if you have the choice. I like a lighter foam block, but I also use a heavy cork block at times as well.
Yoga Strap - A yoga strap is another useful prop that can be used to deepen stretches and improve flexibility. It can also help provide support in certain poses. I prefer a strap made of sturdy cotton material with a D-ring buckle. This strap type is easy to adjust and can be used for different stretches. Sometimes I like to think of the strap as a way to extend my arms so that I can support my leg/foot in certain poses.
Yoga Bolsters - A yoga bolster is a cushioned prop that can be used for support and relaxation in various poses. A bolster is a regular part of my everyday practice. I always have a rectangular, round, skinny pranayama and a meditation cushion available. For most students, a round and rectangular bolster would be perfect. Try one under your knees, or supporting your rib cage, or under your pelvis.
Therapy Balls - These tools were not seen on yoga mats when I started practicing. Now they are an essential part of my practice and a prop that I bring along with me on trips. A set of therapy balls is an essential self-massage prop to help unwind tight fascial knots and improve mobility and circulation in tense soft tissue areas of your body.
Blankets - Blankets are used in many ways during my time on my mat. I use them as support under my head, and knees, or rolled to fill spaces between my body and the ground. A blanket is a perfect prop for relaxation to hold you in tightly or for a soft, loose covering. An essential prop for all home practices.
Weights & Resistance Bands - Lately I have added weights and resistance bands to my prop library and they are an essential addition to my practice to help support my intention to build functional strength as I age. My yoga practice is no longer only about flexibility and stretching; now I am quite interested in building strength, which requires resistance! Pushing and pulling are a big part of my movement practice!
Using props in creative ways will allow your practice to feel more supported, safe and unique to you. Build yourself a small prop library ( find a beautiful basket to store them, an empty closet, or a bin stored beneath your bed) and watch how your props start showing up on your mat. Please share in the comments below what is your favourite, or most used prop.