by: Jessica Bryant
There is a common myth about the use of props being “taboo” or makes you “less than.” Props are an amazing tool for any practitioner level. Not only do they help the beginner get the stretch in the targeted area, but they can also help the more seasoned yogi to deepen the stretch. You can use everyday items as props to practice.
Here are some items found around the home you can use to practice yoga:
- Countertop: I like to stretch the back of my legs by doing a forward fold while holding onto the counter. Countertops can be good tools for helping maintain balance.
- Table: If a table is about waist-high then it may be available for you to bend your knee and place your calf on the edge of the table (as if you’re in a simple seated position, for an outer hip stretch). You can also use the leg of the table to stretch your calf. Alternatively use the table to place the knife-edge of your foot against while doing a variety of forms. The latter suggestion may not work if you don’t have a steady table.
- Table Chair: You could do a whole chair practice here, especially if there are no arms on the chair.
- Couch: The couch can be used in a similar manner as a countertop. If you sit on the edge of the couch, you could also do a chair practice here.
- Wall: The wall is a great prop. At bedtime, it is a great prop for “legs up the wall” pose. You could also place your knees against the wall, curl the toes under, lean back to grab the heels for camel pose.
- Bedpost: Here, you may be able to do a gentle backbend, placing your hands on the bedpost. It would depend on the height of the bedpost.
- Folding Step Stool: If it’s available to you, stand on the step stool for a forward fold, grabbing the front or sides of the step stool for a deeper stretch.
- Blanket/Pants/Towel: If you don’t have a strap, these are a few items that you can use to help you get that stretch in. For example, you can use a towel or pair of pants to help you achieve that nice stretch in “Cow Face” arms. Speaking of this specific shape, for those who have long hair, it may be an option to put your hair in a ponytail and simply hold the top and bottom of the ponytail. It depends on the length of hair, as well. Blankets and towels are also wonderful tools to place under or behind the knees/wrists for a bit of extra padding. It’s also a good option to have a pillow or a folded blanket under the hips during “legs up the wall,” if it is available to you.
- Books: Remember those thick encyclopedias or college textbooks you don’t use anymore? Well, here’s another use for them. Books, especially thick books, are great props if you don’t have any blocks handy. The idea here is to bring the floor up to you.
- Pillows: These are great to use for a yummy restorative practice. In addition, these may be used to help get a little extra padding for those with bad knees. If the pillow is thick enough, it could be used in place of a bolster. In a chair practice, the thick pillow can give a little bit of a backbend or lift in the chest, depending on the height of the pillow.
- People: You can also utilize people around you to help with your balance as well. When you have another person, you can practice partner pranayama, which is a breathing technique. Don’t worry. You don’t have to practice these crazy partner yoga forms you see online, where one person is balancing on top of the other!
This is not an exhaustive list because you can use just about anything to help you practice yoga. What are some items that you can locate in your home to help you practice? I invite you to get creative with your home practice. Have fun with it.