Yoga props are nice, but not necessary. Think of yoga as a gift you can give yourself anytime and anyplace. No expensive accessories or special settings are required.
On the other hand, props can help. They give you more stability and a wider range of motion. You can safely position your body to start working on more advanced poses instead of just looking at them in a book.
There are two options for acquiring your props. You can buy them if you find they give you more effective results or you just like the look and feel of them. You can also find free substitutes for just about any prop by using common items you probably have lying around your house. Take a look at the ideas for props you may want to add to your practice.
Basic Yoga Props
1. Select a mat. A sticky mat cushions your bones and joints and prevents you from sliding around on slippery wood floors. Inexpensive mild soap or diluted vinegar will clean your mat just as well as fancy commercial formulas.
2. Grab a strap. Until your hands reach your feet in certain poses, you can use straps to hold on. Belts and towels may be sufficient, or you may want sturdier and more elastic yoga straps.
3. Extend with blocks. Blocks lift your buttocks and bring your hands closer to the floor while you’re working on your flexibility. Books and folded blankets can sometimes stand in for wooden or foam blocks.
4. Relax with bolsters. Bolsters cushion your head, back, and other body parts. Regular pillows work too.
5. Towel off. Any towel can wipe off sweat. Yoga towels are worth the investment if you use them to cover your mat and give you more traction.
6. Pack a bag. Mats are bulky. A bag or strap is a convenient way to carry them over your shoulder.
7. Carry a water bottle. One item you want in your bag is a water bottle. Remember to drink before you become thirsty.
More Unusual Yoga Props
1. Clear off a wall. Plain old walls are some of the most versatile and valuable yoga props. They can support you while you’re mastering a headstand or relaxing on your back with your legs up. Pick a surface that cleans easily if you want to avoid hand and foot prints.
2. Apply eye pillows. Dissolve stress and soothe tired eyes with a couple of eye pillows. Warm them or cool them according to your preference.
3. Wear sleeves. Are you struggling with arm balances? Buy sticky sleeves that give your triceps a stronger grip or make your own out of Velcro strips.
4. Roll around. Some yoga students love the foam rollers that physical therapists have used for years. They loosen tight muscles and speed up recovery from minor injuries.
5. Sprinkle salt. You’ve probably noticed that new yoga mats tend to be slippery. They usually become more comfortable with use or you can speed up the process by rubbing them with a little salt or leaving them in the sun.
6. Fly on a trapeze. Maybe you’re intrigued by the new aerial yoga studios where students are strapped into swings attached to the ceiling. If you install the gear at home, hire a contractor to be safe.
Enjoy yoga with or without props. All you need is your body and a desire to practice. If you choose to use props, you’ll find many ways to accelerate your progress and go deeper into the poses so you can enjoy greater physical fitness and inner peace.