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The pandemic has taught us many things, and one of them is the importance of sustaining a home yoga practice. This demands more than a sequence of poses. It demands discipline, dedication, creativity, and surrender to the present moment. And, sometimes, it demands that we allow ourselves to receive support.
Most of us aren’t outfitted with the yoga props that a studio provides, yet we can improvise with everyday items in order to make the most of our practice. This allows us to practice in a way that honors our changing energy levels and our responsibilities, in a way that nourishes us rather than depletes us.
Sometimes a home yoga practice is a few Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A) and some deep breathing. Sometimes it’s a variety of postures we have in our asana vocabulary, such as forward folds, twists, backbends, and inversions, using blocks or straps or the wall as props. Sometimes we may need to rest and restore, giving our bodies the opportunity to let go rather than work harder by draping ourselves over a bolster.
We must be honest with ourselves about how we’re feeling day to day, moment by moment, and rely on the practice to give us what we need. Whatever form your practice takes— rigorous or gentle, energizing or restorative—you can find the support you need.
6 best yoga prop hacks for at home
Following are some tricks you can rely on to make your home practice more accessible without purchasing anything. Improvise as you need.
Instead of a strap…try a scarf
Anytime you would normally use a strap in your asana practice, reach for a nice cotton scarf. I’ve actually come to prefer using scarves over straps for most postures in my own practice and in my teaching. At our shala, cotton scarves double as thin towels that can be draped over sweaty bodies before I use my hands to adjust students. They’re also more aesthetically pleasing than straps and an easy way to bring some physical beauty into your practice.
Instead of blocks…try books
If you don’t have foam or cork blocks at home, use a stack of thick hardcover books. This hack works best for postures in which the “block” needs to be placed on the ground, such as underneath your hand for Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) or Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose). You could even place a towel over the books to make the edges more pleasing to the touch.
Instead of a bolster…try blankets
Most of us (including me!) don’t have a bolster lying around at home. Instead, I recommend folding or rolling up a thick blanket or quilt. You want something that has heft and isn’t too pillowy. This ensures you’ll get adequate support, for example, when you place it underneath your knees in Savasana.
Instead of a meditation cushion…try a couch cushion
You might find yourself wanting to practice pranayama or meditation at home but feeling uncomfortable without a proper meditation cushion. I find that bed pillows usually deflate underneath the hips and don’t provide enough support. Instead, try using a sofa cushion, a folded blanket or two, or anything that will give you a firm yet comfortable seat.
Instead of a studio wall…try a wall at home
At our shala, I rely on the wall as a prop to help students with inversions. But when I’m practicing at home, I tend to regard the wall as a hindrance each time I run into the confines of my small laundry room, which is my home practice space. Lately, I’ve been trying to reframe my perspective and regard the wall as a tool. For example, when I’m lying flat on my back and lifting one leg in Supta Padangusthasana, I’ll press my lowered foot firmly against the wall to help root that leg. I’ll do the same with both feet while lying down before lifting up into shoulder stand. The wall can be a powerful physical reminder of stability.
Instead of silence…try white noise
Practicing at home, especially if you have children, often means lots of noise. Try swapping the silence of a studio for the steadiness of white noise. There are plenty of white noise machines out there and you can also find rain or ocean sounds through apps on your phone. These are great because they provide a hint of variability by mimicking nature, and they’re perfect for pretending like your toddler isn’t screaming in the other room.
About our contributor
Pranidhi Varshney is the founder of Yoga Shala West, a community-supported Ashtanga Yoga studio in West Los Angeles. She is also mother to two children who she describes as “courageous and wise little beings.” The thread that runs through all her work is the desire to build community and live from the heart.