How to Find Yoga Props at Home
The human species prides itself on its use of tools, and Yoga’s growing popularity in the Western world has spawned an industry of Yoga-related props — gear that can be complicated and costly. But useful props can be as simple as items lying around your house. Usually, a couple blankets, a strap, a chair, and a wall for support is all you need.
Yoga has always favored an experimental approach, and you can proceed in the same way. Find out for yourself what works for you and what doesn’t. Instead of giving up on a challenging posture, experiment with recommended props. For instance, if you can’t sit comfortably with your legs folded in the tailor’s seat (sukhasana), try placing a folded blanket or firm pillow under your hips.
Working with a wall
Walls are a great prop — they’re everywhere, they’re free, and, best of all, they’re versatile. You can use a wall in a great variety of postures: to support your buttocks and improve the angle of your forward bend, to brace your back heel in the standing postures, or to support the backs of your legs in the reclining raised-legs relaxation position.
Walls also can support you in the more advanced inverted postures, such as the half shoulder stand, and they work as a frame of reference by which you can check your posture and alignment.
Using a blanket for more than bedding
Besides the obvious use of keeping you warm during relaxation, blankets can prop your hips in sitting postures, your head and neck in lying postures, and your waist in prone back bends like the locust posture. You also can use blankets as protective padding under your knees when kneeling.
The firmness of the blanket is important. You want something under your knees or neck that doesn’t sink or collapse, as does a padded blanket or comforter. Always use a firm, flat blanket, and be sure to fold it thickly (or use more than one) when you need to raise your hips (or head or shoulders).
Most blankets nowadays are made out of synthetic materials (or a synthetic/wool blend) — a relief for people with wool allergies.
Choosing a chair for comfort
A folding metal chair or a sturdy wooden chair without arms can have multiple uses as a Yoga prop. Many (if not most) beginners have a hard time sitting on the floor for prolonged periods during meditation or breathing exercises, and sitting on a chair is a great alternative to sitting on the floor.
Make sure, though, that your feet aren’t dangling; if they don’t easily touch the floor, place them on a phone book. Students with back problems often use a chair during the relaxation phase at the end of a Yoga class. Lying on your back and placing your lower legs up on a chair, combined with guided relaxation techniques from the instructor, can really help release back tension or pain.
You can find numerous books and magazine articles about doing your entire Yoga practice in a chair, with suggestions for ways to take Yoga chair breaks around the house or in your office for a quick pick-me-up.
Stretching with a strap
You most frequently use a strap with postures that involve stretching the hamstrings, most commonly from a supine reclining (lying on your back) or sitting position. An old karate belt or necktie works great, but so does a rolled-up towel or a bathrobe belt. You also can order an “official” Yoga strap from one of the mail-order companies in this resources list.