If there is one thing we have all shared through these last extraordinary months of the coronavirus pandemic, it is our call to adapt to every day life in ways we never thought necessary or possible. Virtually every single activity that was once rote has now become a new adventure, from grocery shopping to getting a haircut to practicing yoga.
I realized quickly that if I wanted to keep teaching yoga, I would have to adapt to connecting with my students online. For me, the challenge to overcome was learning how to make use of all the tech aspects so that I could continue to create a holistic experience from a distance, especially recently as I have been teaching a combination of live in-studio classes while also hosting students via Zoom.
For you, my students, I recognized that not only are you struggling to learn the technology, but you may not have all the props you need to support your practice as you did when you were practicing in studio. This is especially tricky for you Yin and Restorative yogis, for whom practice is simply not the same without your props. And for students who are venturing back into studios but find that the studio is not allowing the use of props yet, you are finding that you need to bring your own.
Here are my suggestions for common household items that you can substitute for “official” yoga props.
BOLSTER = KING-SIZED PILLOW, ROLLED BLANKET OR TOWEL
I say king-sized pillow because you want it to be able to support the length of your spine and your head, so length is important. A rolled-up blanket can do the trick as well – a woven one (compared to a fluffy duvet) is a better choice if you have one because it is firmer and will stay rolled up with minimal lumpiness.
A towel will do the trick too – try to find the biggest one you have, such as a bath sheet or a beach towel.
FOAM/CHIP BLOCK = THROW CUSHION, SEAT CUSHION, GARDENING KNEE PAD
We often use foam/chip blocks as a support for the head or knees, so any cushion will stand in well. Foam cushions, like ones you would put on a chair seat or a gardening knee pad are light and portable if you are carting your props from home to studio and back.
STRAP = BELT, SCARF, EXERCISE BANDS
BLOCKS = CANS, JARS, CHAIR, BOOK, STEP STOOL
Depending on what you need blocks for (whether wooden, foam or cork) you can substitute a variety of household items. If you like to sit on a block to elevate your seat, try a big book (like a telephone book-sized one – who has telephone books anymore??) or a small step stool. Even a simple chair will do.
If you use blocks to create extra length in your arms, I suggest a couple of big cans (500ml and bigger) or jars of pasta sauce. Mason jars will do in a pinch too, but the weight of the product inside the full containers will provide added stability.
SANDBAG = BAG OF RICE, BLANKET
If you love the feeling of added weight on your belly or lower back during a Yin or Restorative practice, wrap a towel around a bag of rice (or other weighty grain). You can also use a woven blanket, folded into a rectangle.
My wee pups love to practice with me, and sometimes they will come and lie on my belly 🙂 That is my Hugo in the photo. Perhaps yours can be convinced too?
EYE PILLOW = SMALL BAG OF RICE, SCARF, HAND TOWEL, SLEEP MASK
Similar to the substitute sandbag, fill a Ziploc bag with rice and wrap it up in a small towel or scarf to place over your eyes. A simple sleep mask, scarf or small towel will block the light, but won’t offer the weight.
ESSENTIAL BONUS PROP: A CHAIR
I highly recommend having a dining chair nearby when you are practicing Yin or Restorative. It is an ideal height for resting your legs on when you are on your back. You can use it to support a gentle forward fold, and you can sit in it for seated twists and other leg stretches.
Making do with what we have can make all the difference in our yoga practice. However, if you do get the craving to invest in some “formal” yoga props, I recommend ordering directly online from Halfmoon. I love Halfmoon because they are made locally, ethically and sustainably in Vancouver BC, and their products are of exquisite quality and are simply beautiful. They are also the official supplier of BYoga Mats, my ultimate favourite yoga mat – sticky, lightweight, great colours, and long-lasting.
If you decide to purchase mats and props via Halfmoon or BYoga, this code will give you 15% off at checkout:
>>> Shop for yoga mats at B Yoga
>>> Shop for yoga props at Halfmoon
If you have any further questions, be sure to send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace, blessings, and joyful practice,