Hi future yogis of America 🙂
There’s a lot of crap out there, even in the mindfulness realm.
With that in mind, I’m going to tell you the three props you should invest in and the one yoga prop to skip/leave in the shopping cart/leave for someone else to buy.
You’ve heard all the benefits of yoga so you’re ready to start but what do you need? I’ve been practicing yoga for nearly ten years. Click over to read the 3 props you need and one prop to skip. #yoga #mindfulness #exercise
Three Yoga Props You Really Need + One to Skip
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I think everyone serious about yoga should have at least one yoga mat but preferably more.
I have five mats currently and I can see myself acquiring a few more.
“Where all the mats at?”
- At the office for quick lunchtime yoga sessions
- In the living room for nighttime yin or restorative poses
- One is stashed in the trunk of my car for occasional outside yoga
- On my yoga porch where I practice daily (that mat gets moved inside during winter)
- I keep one at the office for quick lunchtime yoga sessions
Having said all this, don’t let lack of a mat stop you from doing yoga.
Mats are not necessary.
In fact when I roll out of bed in the morning, after I empty my bladder, I do a few rounds of sun salutations on the hardwood floor of my bedroom.
I’ve practiced on grass and on a rocky mountain top.
Mats are a Western convenience.
The OG yogis such as Paramahansa Yogananda, the author of the classic Autobiography of a Yogi practiced on a thin towel.
However, I still think you should buy at least one yoga mat.
Why Yoga Mats Are Useful
Yoga mats are especially good for newer practitioners because mats give you a sense of where your body parts should be positioned during the asana.
The mat gives you a frame of reference, especially if you’re following along with a teacher.
Plus, yoga is meant to be shared.
It’s nice to have extra mats if your cats or your kids want to practice with you.
You’ll drag your feet on this if you’re thrifty like me but once you buy one bolster you’ll realize their value in your practice and want a half dozen and you’ll wonder why it took you so long to take the bolster plunge.
Bolsters are good for yin practices as well as restorative practices. One of my favorite yin practices:
I have two bolsters right now but I’m hunting for a good deal on a third because, cheap.
One bolster is a thick, narrow rectangle, covered in a sturdy purple fabric cover.
I can unzip the covering on this bolster and put it in the wash, which is nice if you like to do outdoor yoga like me.
Or if you have kids.
Or if you have pets.
Or if you have dirt.
My other bolster is oblong but round. So, I could lay it flat or I could lay it on its side for more height.
This one is by Apana and it’s super cozy and squishy.
I thought the squishiness meant it wasn’t going to last long but it’s holding up pretty well.
Sometimes, I use the squishy bolster as a pillow for sleeping.
It’s really perfect for sleeping. It supports my head and neck perfectly.
How to Use a Bolster During Yoga Practice
I also use squishy bolster under my knees during restorative poses or sometimes during savasana if I want to be extra cozy.
A bolster is also good for tucking under your bent leg/hip when you’re doing half frog pose.
Just fold your arms over each other, lay your head down and relax into the pose.
A bolster is also excellent to tuck under your spine lengthwise during savasana with arms outstretched like a cross to open up your chest.
I would have you invest in at least two sets of blocks: a pair of foam blocks and a pair of cork blocks.
Blocks can be used to support you in certain poses.
Are you someone who has trouble touching the floor?
You can use blocks with your forward folds until you are flexible and open enough to put your hands on the floor.
Yoga blocks can also give you more stability in certain poses.
I’m thinking of one of my favorite poses-half moon pose or (Ardha Chandrasana) which always makes me feel like I’m flying.
If you’re not ready to fly and possibly fall, use a block under your hand that touches the floor.
Yoga blocks can also be tucked under a hip to make pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) more comfortable or accessible.
You can also put a yoga block to prop up each thigh during reclined bound angle pose.
I also occasionally sit on a yoga block to meditate if I don’t have my meditation cushion or a yoga mat nearby to fold up.
This brings me to my next bit of advice.
Sitting on a foam block is infinitely more comfortable than sitting on a cork block.
However, and this is why you should have a set of each, cork blocks offer a lot more stability because they’re heavier than foam blocks.
This is my favorite hip opener practice:
Straps can help you practice poses that might otherwise be unattainable for you.
I’m thinking of standing hand to big toe pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana).
Another challenging pose that can be helped with a strap is cow face pose (Gomukhasana). That’s one where you clasp your hands behind your back.
Straps are also useful for practicing certain twists and binds.
This is my favorite twist practice:
I have two but I could use more.
Finally, what’s the one yoga prop I think you should skip?
A yoga wheel.
Skip a yoga wheel.
These yoga wheels are not very useful at best and dangerous at worst.
I bought a wheel a few years ago when the wheels were all over Instagram.
I’ve used the wheel maybe three times.
I couldn’t figure out what to do with it so I used it to stretch out my back once.
Then I did two practices following yoga wheel videos by teachers I like.
The videos were most likely produced because yoga wheels were all over Instagram.
There aren’t a ton of yoga wheel practices out there, which explains a lot.
I didn’t get anything out of the practices other than frustration because the wheel is clunky and rolled everywhere because it’s a wheel of course.
So, skip the wheel.
Having said that, I realize that my wheel is still taking up space on my yoga porch so I posted it for sale on my town’s Facebook barter and swap site and it sold!
Do you practice yoga? What’s your level of experience? What props do you have?
If you don’t have any props yet, it’s okay. No Yoga Shame!