For the untrained yoga student yoga props may indicate inexperience or weakness.
This idea is untrue. Yoga props can greatly enrich our yoga practice. Yoga props can make yoga poses more accessible and comfortable regardless of the level of the student.
So which yoga props are essential for your online yin and yang yoga classes? It’s a good idea to always read the class descriptions for any online yoga classes you would like to take so you know beforehand the props your teacher thinks are necessary for the class.
Some folks will argue yoga props aren’t absolutely essential when practicing yoga, and they are correct. Yoga props do however help us to move deeper and safer in our yin or yang yoga poses. It’s not a bad idea to invest a few dollars into this equipment or find out which items we already have in our homes that can be used effectively to enhance the quality of our practice.
Check out our list of essential yoga props below-
Blocks are one of the most popular yoga props in use today. Blocks can be used to support the weight of the body in both yin and yang yoga poses. Blocks also encourage good alignment and make postures more accessible to less flexible or injured students. Originally made from wood, blocks today are also made from high density foam and cork. Wooden blocks tend to be heavier, more expensive and do not stack as well as foam or cork blocks. Foam blocks are less environmentally friendly and may feel less supportive than either wood or cork blocks in some weight bearing postures. Both cork and foam will wear away faster than wood. Cork and foam blocks may also absorb odour and moisture more easily than wooden blocks. Cork blocks are however lighter and more comfortable in weight bearing postures. The size of an average block is approximately 9x4.5x3 inches. 11x7x 3 inch blocks are also popular today. Thick books can sometimes be used as substitutes for blocks.
Straps are very useful for helping students move into postures that traditionally require great amounts of flexibility. Straps are also useful for supporting the body in some yin yoga postures, encouraging deep relaxation while maintaining the structure of the pose. Let’s use Legs up the Wall pose for an example; a strap can be used to secure the legs together so muscular action to keep the legs together is unnecessary. Most good straps are made of a durable fabric, are fray resistant and come with a secure metal buckle. Lengths for straps vary between 6 to 10 feet. If you are new to yoga it’s probably best to invest in a 10 foot strap. Belts and towels can be used at home to replace yoga straps but neither of those substitutes are as versatile as a good strap.
Bolsters are more commonly used in yin yoga than in yang yoga. Bolsters are generally used to support body weight. They bolster the physical body promoting deep relaxation, opening and release. Bolsters are normally either rectangular or round. Rectangular bolsters are more versatile than round ones. When purchasing a bolster look for one with a removable outer layer. This makes for easier cleaning. Pillows normally can be used as substitutes for bolsters in the home.
Yoga blankets, are arguably the second most widely used prop of all the essential yoga props (with yoga mats coming first on the list). Yoga blankets can be used to increase comfort and alignment in sitting or reclining postures. They offer a welcomed layer of comfort and security in restful poses such as shavasana and other yin yoga postures that are held for long periods. Yoga blankets are made from cotton, wool, synthetic fibers or a blend of these materials. Wool blankets are generally the most dense and supportive. Synthetic blends will normally be the most affordable. Mexican made blankets are very popular in the west. Yoga blankets can be easily substituted with the blankets we already have in our homes.
Yoga Mat Towels
For those sweaty hot yang yoga classes, yoga towels can provide well needed grip support. They help prevent slipping and sliding and the formation of little ( or large) pools of sweat on our mats. Yoga towels are found in several sizes with full mat sizes being the most common. Yoga towels normally have a sticky grip on the underside that when slightly damp allows the towel to stay in place on top of the yoga mat. Some towel manufacturers such as manduka recommend lightly misting the grip side of their yoga towels before practice to ensure the towel stays in place on the mat. Folded yoga towels can also be used to pad the knees and other parts of the body during both yin and yang yoga practices. Blankets and small towels however are better options for padding the body in yin and yang yoga.
The quintessential yoga prop, yoga mats provide a gripping surface for our hands and feet during any yoga practice. They greatly support the structural integrity of our poses; allowing us to move deeply in our postures with less chance of injury. Yoga mats are typically rectangular and range in thickness from a 1/16 inch (travel mat) to 1/4 inch with 1/8 inch being considered the standard size. Mats are made from PVC(vinyl), jute, rubber and cotton. Persons with latex allergies should avoid rubber mats. PVC mats are in general stickier, spongier and last longer than either cotton or jute. PVC mats however are the least environmentally friendly of all mat fabric choices.
Read our Previous blogs Yoga Blogs from Dr Stuart.