Yogi At Home? These Household Items Are Your New Props
Yoga props are a great way to help modify poses and deepen your personal practice. When you open up to the world of straps, blocks, and more, you open yourself up to doing poses correctly (and painlessly).
You may finally feel like you're doing pigeon correctly with a block to support your hips, or find you can stretch deeper in seated forward fold with a strap. But if you're not able to make it into your studio or you're on a tight budget, you may not have access to the usual props.
Fortunately, you've probably got some stuff lying around your house that will work just fine. With blankets and books on hand, there's no reason everyone can't get the benefits of a prop-supported practice.
Let's jump right in with the most quintessential yoga "prop": your mat.
Expensive mats can be great, but there is no rule that says you need a mat at all. You can practice directly on your floor or carpet—or better yet, outside on the bare earth. If you happen to have some of those socks with sticky grips on the bottom, they'll help you stay put if you practice on non-carpeted flooring. If you decide to go sans-mat, just be mindful of the surface you're practicing on (concrete with no mat will be really hard on your joints, but carpeting will feel fine). But, if you want the feeling of having a mat without having to buy one, a large towel may do the trick.
Blocks are a great tool to incorporate in so many poses; they help with balance and alignment and they're relatively easy to mimic. All you need is a nice, sturdy book, around the size of your typical yoga block (4 by 6 by 9 inches to be exact, but it's OK if it isn't). You could even stack a couple if you don't have a book that's big enough.
Wrap it up in a blanket or towel to provide cushioning in poses like fish pose, that may require you to lie on the block, or stand it up for extra balance in half-moon!
If you're looking to increase your flexibility, straps can be a godsend if you have tight hamstrings or shoulders. And as far as mimicking them, you probably already have three or four things you could use instead. A yoga strap is essentially just a strip of fabric with a buckle at one end, so for poses that don't require the buckle, you could use a jump rope, bathrobe tie, a thin-ish scarf, or a rolled-up towel. And for poses that do require a loop in the strap, a soft belt (perhaps a woven belt?) is your best bet.
Try looping the belt around your upper arms in crow pose to keep your elbows from splaying out or wrapping it around your foot to help "flip your grip" in dancer pose!
If you've ever done yin or restorative yoga, you know a bolster can make poses feel absolutely heavenly. And the best part? You can make your own "bolster" from a folded-up blanket, a pillow, a couch cushion—really anything cushiony that's around a bolster's standard size (roughly 2 feet long, 1 foot wide, and 6 inches tall). Place your cushion underneath you in reclined bound angle pose for extra support or under your knee in a supine twist if your knee doesn't reach the floor.
For more bolster inspo, check out these six poses to help you fall asleep that you can do right in your bed.
Despite what the Western world may want us to believe, yoga isn't all about swanky studios, expensive gear, or all the advanced, albeit beautiful, poses we see on Instagram. In fact, the poses are just a small part of the yogi's journey. Yoga is about inner work, and it should be accessible to everyone. With these household prop alternatives, anyone and everyone can get all the benefits of a yoga practice. Namaste!
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.