At-Home Yoga Prop Alternatives
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
By Ashley Nichols, 500RYT
Yoga props are GREAT. They allow our practice to become more attainable and sustainable while providing support and ease. I highly recommend using props whether you’re a beginner or an advanced yogi.
The benefits of incorporating props into your practice are:
An increased range of motion, flexibility, and strength
Assistance with reaching proper alignment in poses
Stabilization of joints & prevention of injuries
Making poses more attainable and sustainable by removing the unnecessary struggle
Allowing poses to be held for longer periods
Helping create space where you need it
Deepening tension release
The great thing about yoga props is that you don’t necessarily need to buy
them! They can be easily substituted with at home alternatives:
Blocks are generally used to bring you closer to the floor (or to build the ground up to you). When using blocks, it can help create the space needed so that the yogi can lengthen, extend, deepen, and soften in poses.
Alternatives to yoga blocks
I remember back in college before I had blocks, I used wedge high heels!
Although that worked temporarily, I wouldn’t suggest it. Try using a thick book or a textbooks instead, stacking a few together. A sturdy shoe box can also work. In the long run a set of sturdy yoga blocks is a good investment in your yoga practice. You will find them useful in all classes and will be happy to have them by your mat! You can find similar blocks from Gaiam on Amazon.
How to use yoga blocks
When using standard yoga blocks, they typically can be used in 3 ways, the tall, medium, and low height. I find myself using my blocks on every height, from start to finish in my practice.
My favorite poses to use blocks in
Easy seat (sukhasana), pigeon (one under my hip, one under forehead), supported bridge pose (under the sacrum) and triangle (bringing my hand closer to the floor)
Yoga straps, or yoga belts are great to increase flexibility, and length. I find the strap especially helpful when in a pose that reaches for the foot.
Alternatives to a strap
There are SO many alternatives for a strap. Sometimes I use one of my scarfs, or a belt, or even a towel. Or if you have a straps that wrap around your yoga mat for transport, you
can even use that!
How to use a yoga strap
Straps act as an extension of your arms or hands. It creates just enough space so that you can still do the pose and feel supported and find length and space. For example, in seated forward fold you can wrap the strap around the balls of your feet, and fold forward while keeping length in the spine. Straps can also help with balance and strength, for example you can wrap them around your upper arms in a forearm stand, or in chaturanga.
My favorite poses using a strap
Reclining hand to big toe pose, Dancer, Crow, Seated forward fold, Warrior 3
A blanket can provide support, cushion, and comfort where you need it.
Alternative to a yoga blanket
Substitute a yoga blanket with a thick blanket or towel around the house such as a big beach towel that you can fold a few times, or a big puffy blanket that has lots of cushion.
How to use your blanket
For restorative classes, sometimes I lay a blanket flat, unfolded over my yoga mat just as another layer of cushion. Or I will fold and slide it under a hip in pigeon. You can use it as a seat, or under the knees for more support and cushion. You can also roll your blanket up like a burrito and use it for a number of poses.
My favorite poses using a blanket
Seated (Sukhasana), Reclining Bound angle, Head to knee pose, under the knees in Table top, and under the knees in Low Lunge
Bolsters are typically used in restorative classes or gentle yoga. They provide comfort and support when poses are held for a long time. They are generally pretty firm and allow the yogi to soften into the pose and relax more into the body.
Alternatives for a bolster
You can use a pillow or two stacked depending on the thickness and firmness. Narrow couch cushions and pillows also work well!
How to use a bolster
Bolsters can be used in seated poses or reclined poses to support the body and bring the ground closer to you.
My favorite poses using a bolster
Supported fish, Supported reclined bound angle, Seated pose (sukhasana), under the hips for Legs up the wall or for a Supported bridge
I inivite you to try these alternative props in your next class. I promise it will change the way you practice. And always feel free to ask your instructors for tips and suggestions about how to use your props to best benefit your practice!
Be well yogis and practice on.
Wednesday @ 930a for Vinyasa Flow
Thursday @ 6p for Restorative Yoga
Sunday @ 9a for an All Levels Flow