The Lord has made everything for its purpose.
-Proverbs 16:4a, ESV
One of the cool things about practicing yoga is that it doesn’t require a whole lot of gear. You and a pair of stretchy pants are about all that’s required. There are, however, some tools that can make your practice a bit easier, or richer…or both. Here are a few of my favorites.
Mat. Early in my practice I thought the yoga mat just provided a place to do the yoga. It does, but it also provides grip and cushioning during a session. My first mat was a Gaiam my husband bought me as a gift. It served me well through most of my instructor training. Toward the end I began noticing some slip during power sessions when I’d work up a bit of a sweat. As my instructor retreat approached and I realized my mat would be my seat for a large portion of six days and I’d be practicing for hours each day, I decided to trade up. After days of internet research and consulting other instructors I know personally, I landed on a Manduka PROlite. The PROlite weighs less than the PRO (4lbs compared to the 7.5lbs PRO). This seemed to be a good balance of professional grade and reasonable portability. It required some breaking in, but there are videos on how to speed up the process. The price point may seem a bit daunting until you realize Manduka guarantees it will never wear out. I am extremely happy with this choice!
Blocks. Ever wish you could bring the floor up just a few inches? Yoga blocks are there for you! When working into a deeper version of a certain stretch, or perhaps holding a pose for an extended time, blocks can provide the extra boost or the support you need. I have a pair of Reehut foam blocks. They’re bargain-priced and don’t smell like strange chemicals, plus they come in a variety of fun colors! Eventually I’d like to invest in the Manduka cork blocks. As I’ve infused some pilates into my home practice, I find when trying to balance more body weight on the Reehut foam blocks there’s more give than I’d like. Though I haven’t yet practiced with them, the cork blocks feel more firm.
Strap. Straps can deepen your stretches, help you stay in poses for lengthy periods of time with a bit less muscular effort, and even make certain postures more accessible as you develop your practice or work tighter places in your body. The strap I own is also by Reehut. It’s not fancy but it does the trick and because it’s cotton it doesn’t feel like a seatbelt.
There are a few other props I have yet to incorporate into my practice. The next thing I’d like to add once I have a home with a bit more space is a bolster. I think my restorative sessions at home would be that much sweeter. What about you? Do you have props you enjoy using in your practice? Or perhaps one you’d like to try?