written by: Kyneret Azizo
These days, new kinds of trendy yoga props and other yoga paraphernalia are showing up everywhere.
The debate of whether or not to use these yoga props during practice arises frequently in conversation among yoga practitioners.
I’ve listened in on so many conversations and heard all kinds of justifications, both for and against the use of these yoga accessories. Some have a “yoga purist” point of view, opting for the use of only a yoga mat. Others incorporate more than one prop in their practice, claiming it’s the only way to accommodate individual needs.
Well, I say there’s no right or wrong. Because it really all depends on what your intentions are and what you desire to achieve out of your practice.
What are the best yoga props for your yoga practice?
There are many kinds of yoga props out there meant to do very different things. Some accessories, like yoga bolsters and yoga blocks, are meant for restorative yoga classes. Others are more geared towards hatha yoga – like yoga wheels and yoga straps.
Some props will add real merit to the practice while others will take away from it and act as diversions. Imagine trying to use a number of yoga props while doing sun salutations? Your yoga sequence would be choppy and it would break your concentration. So it’s important to choose wisely!
Here are a few points to consider, however, so that you don’t go overboard with prop consumerism.
These are the characteristics of the best yoga props to use:
- Safe to use
- Adds a level of safety to your practice (like using a strap in a seated forward fold to prevent overstretching)
- High-quality and durable
- Made from eco-friendly material
- Bulk-free and easy to store
That said, here are 4 awesome yoga props that can actually enrich your practice rather than take away from it. You can buy all of them online, and find a lot of them in retail. Oh, and if you do have a furbaby or two at home, expect that they’ll also put these props to good use 🙂
Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls for Myofascial Release
If you haven’t already worked with these genius accessories, you’re in for a real treat when you discover their therapeutic potential. There are plenty of different ways to use these therapy balls and each is guaranteed to lead to an ‘aha moment.’
There are some places where we hold more muscular tension than we know what to do with. It seems like no matter how much we stretch, these areas never seem to release. Quite frankly, sometimes it can feel like our own body locks us out and throws away the key. It’s a frustrating experience even for yogis with years of practice behind them.
But these Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls give us a way of accessing those areas with tailored manipulation that’s essential for releasing myofascial tension.
You can keep them in the net pouch they come in, placing them along either side of your spine. Or you can use them separately in order to isolate certain muscles.
Here are some great spots to get into with Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls:
- Upper back
- Lower back
- Soles of the feet
Check out this video featuring Yoga Tune Up® creator, Jill Miller, on how to do self-massage using these therapy balls. Want to use them at work for tense neck and shoulders muscles? Here’s another great video featuring the lovely YuMee Chung to guide you through the process.
Great news: You can purchase these at Modo Yoga Maple! They’ll serve you well in your practice. We highly recommend them. And keep an eye out for our Therapy Ball Workshops at Modo Yoga Maple. You’ll learn all the different ways to use therapy balls and how you’ll benefit.
Word of Caution: Expect your therapy balls to mysteriously vanish during your home yoga practice.
“This is so therapurrrtic…” (Photo by YuMee Chung)
FeetUp Headstand Chair for Safe Inversions
Headstand pose, or Sirsasana, is a favoured one among many yogis. Beginners and experts alike enjoy settling in different variations of this inversion.
Wonderful as it might be for our state of mind and physical health, the main concern with Sirsasana is that it’s far too weight-bearing a pose for many. The pressure that’s placed on the crown of the head can transfer a lot of stress to the delicate vertebrae of the cervical spine. This is especially true if proper alignment has not been achieved, or adequate strength has not been developed throughout the core and upper body.
We never want to compromise our safety in our practice. But this nifty device made for inversion lovers offers a solution to the problem and makes headstand a more fun and accessible experience. As can be observed in the image above, your head doesn’t actually make contact with the ground. Instead, you are cleverly held in place at the level of the shoulders, with firm arm handles to grip onto. It can be used against a wall or away from it. Whether you’re a beginner or expert level yogi, the FeetUp headstand chair comfortably bolsters you within the contraption, providing a safe and stable foundation to raise your legs up from.
You’ll also be pleased to know that not only is this prop useful for headstands, but it can also support a whole range of different yoga poses too. Check it out:
And of course, the FeetUp headstand chair doubles as a new throne for your cat! How majestic 🙂
“Night gathers, and now my watch begins…”
Yoga Wheels for Backbends and More
A yoga wheel’s got your back – literally. It’s great for fine-tuning your back-bends, or merely lounging around and rolling across (as I am quite fond of doing). But seriously, it develops your flexibility, enabling you to go deeper into backbends.
A yoga wheel isn’t just for backbends. It’s a novelty multi-use item! You can use it instead of a yoga block in Trikonasana (triangle pose), or carry it as a free weight in virabhadrasana (warrior pose), which will boost the strength-building capacity of your practice. Have you ever tried balancing on one of these yoga wheels? It’s definitely not easy, but you will improve your balance by strengthening stabilizer and core muscles.
Finally, your cat will be super stoked about their new feline fortress.
“Who dares to enter mylair and wake me from my slumber?”
Acupressure Mat for Therapeutic Benefits
Standing asanas feel especially energizing on an acupressure mat. Those tiny reflexology needles will send an invigorating rush of energy up your legs and into all your organs. Not only will an acupressure mat energize you; it will help you relax substantially in your final savasana. There are now plenty of brands offering their own version of an acupressure mat, in varying sizes. Most of them are portable and lightweight, making them easy to toat along with you to your yoga practice. Stand on, press your hands into, or lay onto these mats – either way, you’ll notice the effects immediately.
Guess who’s turn it is after you come down from Cloud Yoga?
“I can haz acupressure mat!?!?”
Remember to choose products that enhance your practice instead of taking away from it. Multi-use products will serve you better over the long run because you’ll have less to store away and they’ll keep your yoga practice interesting and appealing.
It’s important to ensure that your props do not jeopardize your safety in any way, but another thing to take into consideration is whether they add a level of safety as well. A Yoga for Beginners type of class often includes basic props like yoga blocks and straps to make certain yoga poses more accessible and mitigate the risk of injury due.
If you’re not sure what props to use, a great tip is to ask a few of our teachers at Modo Yoga Maple. They are very well educated and you’ll get a range of different opinions and yoga prop preferences from them. In my opinion, I think the Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls are one of the best yoga props to have. They’re super affordable and portable.
Lastly, don’t forget to consult with your cat first before making any costly purchases 🙂
Kyneret has been practicing and teaching yoga for over a decade. She began as a yoga teacher for Modo Yoga Maple in 2012, and has recently set off on a nomadic adventure to South East Asia. She remains active within our Modo community as a blog writer.
When not writing, she is fully immersed in the day-to-day adventures of travel life and actively seeks out as many foreign yoga experiences as possible to further her knowledge and skills! You can follow Kyneret’s travels on her instagram account @planes_trains_autoimmunity