Support props for home yoga practice can be make-shift household items or store-bought props.
by Linda Sparrowe
Almost anything can support your yoga practice, from the make-shift—tables, walls, doorknobs, kitchen counters, couch cushions, neckties, or a friend’s outstretched hand—to the store-bought. With so many props to choose from, you may want to start by gathering the essentials like mats, blocks, bolsters, straps and blankets, and then later branch out to the exotics like backbenders, headstanders, and yoga slings, depending on space and need. Here are descriptions of the more common ones and some suggestions on how to use them.
- Mat. No one wants to press her face into a yoga mat made of PVC, a plastic softened by phthalates, which are well-known carcinogens. Instead, choose one made from natural rubber, recycled tires, or jute (which you can compost in the garden). Slippery? Wash it first and hang it out to dry.
- Blocks. Wood, foam, or cork are all good choices. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned practitioner, blocks provide the stability you need to lift, lengthen, and open a little deeper in standing and restorative poses.
- Bolsters. Truth be told, you don’t absolutely need to invest in a bolster—rolling or folding a couple of blankets together could suffice—but it’s sure nice to have when you’re ready to settle in to a sweet restorative pose and stay awhile.
- Straps. Sure you can use a cloth belt or a necktie, but an official yoga strap, which comes in 6-, 8-, or 12-inch lengths, is sturdier and has a buckle. (There are a variety of speciality straps on the market that allow you to customize your practice, such as the Hasta Pada Yoga Strap and the Infinity Strap.)
- Blankets. A yogi can’t have too many blankets to sit, kneel, and lie on, roll up, fold, and spread out. Blankets should be a dense weave (for best support) and easy to fold.
- Chair. A collapsible one works best for seated twists, modified backbends, and inversions. Make sure when you sit on it that your feet can touch the floor.
- Walls. Find at least one unadorned wall space, because every practice needs a legs-up-the-wall moment.
- Eyebag. Slightly weighted—and sometimes scented—eyebags are essential for a distraction-free savasana (final relaxation).
- Household items. After a while, you’ll view your whole house as one big yoga prop, as Richard Freeman says. Stretch your hamstrings using the kitchen counter as your tea brews; settle into a supported shoulderstand with your buttocks resting on your couch, backbend over a banister—use your imagination!
Linda Sparrowe is the author of the just released book Yoga At Home: Inspiration for Creating Your Own Home Practice for Yoga Journal (Universe, an imprint of Rizzoli International).